Arizona has won 31 straight at home and 10 in a row over Utah, but coach Sean Miller doesn’t think his team is the favorite in this weekend’s much-anticipated Pac-12 matchup.
The eighth-ranked Utes put their longest winning streak in 10 seasons on the line Saturday against the No. 10 Wildcats.
Arizona (15-2, 3-1) hasn’t fallen at home since a 77-69 loss to California on Feb. 10, 2013, and the Wildcats haven’t lost to Utah (14-2, 4-0) since a 76-51 defeat in a 1998 NCAA tournament regional final.
That hasn’t prevented Miller from claiming that his team, ranked No. 2 in the preseason, will be Saturday’s underdog.
"I told our guys in the locker room that Utah is the best team in the Pac-12," the coach said. "They’re the deepest, the most experienced, they believe in what they do the most and they execute the most on both sides of the ball.
"We’re going to have to upset them here in McKale (Center)."
Utah has won seven straight for its longest run since winning 18 in a row Dec. 17, 2004-Feb. 19, 2005. The Utes, allowing a conference-low 55.3 points per game, are the only unbeaten team in Pac-12 play.
This contest pits the conference’s leaders in rebound margin, with Utah at plus-8.7 and Arizona plus-7.0.
The Wildcats held a 41-26 edge on the glass in Thursday’s 68-54 home win over Colorado. Brandon Ashley had a season-high 11 boards on a night in which 7-footer Kaleb Tarczewski was limited to two.
”A big reason we won was because of his (Ashley’s) great efforts on the glass,” Miller said. ”If he can be more active on the glass, get us 10-11 rebounds, that’s a lot of good things for us. Get Kaleb rebounding, now you have something.”
Freshman Stanley Johnson scored a season-high 22 points.
Utah has won by an average of 24.5 points in conference play. The latest rout was Thursday’s 76-59 victory at Arizona State in the Utes’ first Pac-12 road game after going 2-7 in such contests a season ago.
”Last year we didn’t do a good job winning on the road,” top scorer Delon Wright said. ”So we’re trying to have a new mentality this year.”
Wright made all 12 free throws to overcome 4-of-11 shooting for a game-high 21 points.
"I just wanted to keep attacking, try to get to the free-throw line, get some layups going so I can get my game going," Wright said.
Jordan Loveridge scored 14 points and Brandon Taylor added 13 for Utah, which shot 53.7 percent and leads the Pac-12 at 50.3. Arizona is second at 48.9.
The Wildcats won three times last season over the Utes, including a 71-39 rout in the Pac-12 tournament quarterfinals. Wright averaged 12.0 points on 34.5 percent shooting in those games and Loveridge averaged 7.3 and shot 5 of 32.
Ashley missed the last two matchups after a season-ending foot injury.
The Wildcats are unsure of the status of reserve guard Gabe York, who sat out Thursday with an ankle injury. York started the first 13 games and is fourth on the team with 9.2 points per game.