Arizona rallies in second half to beat Utah Valley 80-69
TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) — As each 3-pointer dropped, Brandon Randolph seemed to grow more demonstrative and more willing to test his range.
By the time Randolph drained his fourth 3-pointer in the first two minutes of the second half, the Wildcats had overcome a 12-point halftime deficit and were on the way to a 51-point second half and an 80-69 victory over Utah Valley on Tuesday at McKale Center.
“We really moved the ball, and we had a player go unconscious,” Arizona coach Sean Miller said. “A lot of times I like to say ‘Aw, we did this.’ He came off screens and hit the shot. And they all mattered, every one of them.”
Randolph had 14 of his 16 points in the second half, his last three coming from about 26 feet out on the left wing, and freshman guard Brandon Williams had his first double-double for the Wildcats, who won their 52nd straight nonconference home game.
“I haven’t seen anybody do that for us in McKale since Gabe York in his senior day at Stanford,” said Miller, referring to York’s nine threes on March 5, 2016. “Those were four big, big shots. He gave everybody confidence.”
Williams had 15 points and a career-high 10 rebounds and added five assists for the Wildcats.
“That wasn’t necessarily the mindset,” Randolph said of his 3-point spree. “It was just that we were running plays, I definitely got going and my teammates found me. It hyped me up and it hyped the crowd up. Hyped our team up.”
The Wildcats, who trailed 41-29 at halftime, pulled away by shooting 61 percent in the second half. They were 8 of 14 from 3-point range in the second half.
Jake Toolson had 20 points and eight rebounds, brother Conner Toolson had 13 points and TJ Washington scored 11 for the Wolverines, who were the Wildcats’ 36th straight nonconference victim in the team’s only other meeting in December, 2014.
Arizona has not lost at home since San Diego State took a 61-57 victory on Nov. 23, 2011.
Justin Coleman added 15 points for Arizona, which had a 36-26 rebounding edge.
“Brandon Randolph stepped up and hit four straight threes, some really, really hard shots,” Utah Valley coach Mark Pope said. “They turned up the intensity (in the second half), and when they tuned up to another level, the ball got sticky for us, and that’s our Achilles heel.”
Utah Valley shot 7 of 22 from the field in the second half.
Williams, a 6-foot-2 guard, had seven of his 10 rebounds in the first half. He had 16 rebounds in the first eight games of the season.
“Anything I can do to help those bigs, take some load off them,” Williams said. “That’s how I play, just aggressive. I was shocked when they told me I had a double-double. As a guard, that goes a long way.”
Coleman and Williams made 3-pointers as Arizona took an 18-11 lead five minutes into the game before the Wolverines went on a 9-0 run that grew to 21-4 for a 32-22 advantage.
Washington had two 3-pointers and Jake Toolson had a 3-pointer and two free throws in that run, while Arizona made only one field goal in a 9-minute, 55-second span. Utah Valley took its biggest lead, 41-29, at halftime. Arizona shot 38.5 percent from the field in the first half.
Arizona: After losing all five starters, the Wildcats have played pretty much to expectations, falling to Top 10 teams Gonzaga and Auburn but recording a quality road win at UConn last Sunday. A winning record in the Pac-12 seems eminently reachable.
Southern Utah: The Arizona game was the latest in the Wolverines’ aggressive nonconference schedule that included early losses to BYU, Saint Mary’s and Utah State. The competition should serve them well in the Western Athletic Conference, where they are picked to finish in the first division of a conference traditionally dominated by New Mexico State.
Arizona: The schedule stiffens shortly — the Wildcats play at Alabama on Sunday before returning home to host Baylor on Dec. 15.
Southern Utah: The Wolverines will conclude a two-game trip down I-15 with a game against Northern Arizona on Saturday.