UConn hangs tough, but falls at Arizona, 73-58

Arizona forward Keanu Pinder, top, fouls Connecticut guard Jalen Adams (4) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Thursday, Dec. 21, 2017, in Tucson, Ariz. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

TUCSON, Ariz. — Rawle Alkins scored 20 points, Dusan Ristic had 18 points and 10 rebounds, and No. 18 Arizona used a late run to pull away for a 73-58 victory over UConn on Thursday night.

Arizona (10-3) traded ugly possessions with the Huskies in the first half before both teams found an offensive rhythm in the second. The Wildcats took control behind their defense during a late 8-0 run that pushed their lead to 65-55 and on to their seventh straight win since an 0-3 trip to the Bahamas.

Arizona made 14 of 23 shots in the second half to win its 47th straight non-conference home game and beat UConn for the first time in six attempts all-time.

Wildcats guard Allonzo Trier scored 15 points after leaving in the second half of Monday’s game against North Dakota State with a sprained left knee.

UConn (7-4) started slow after an 11-day break for exams before coming alive in the second half behind the trio of Terry Larrier, Jalen Adams and Christian Vital.

The Huskies traded baskets with the Wildcats for most of the second half, but a scoreless drought of more than 3 minutes at the wrong time sent them to another loss against a power program.

Larrier finished with 18 points, Adams had 13 and Vital 11.

The Huskies have been criticized for not always playing hard while winning the games they were supposed and have mostly stumbled against how-we-measure-up opponents. UConn did beat Oregon, but lost to No. 2 Michigan State, Arkansas and Syracuse.

The Huskies faced a monumental task Thursday night, trying to earn a statement win at one of the most difficult road venues in college basketball.

They have been plagued by slow starts and did it again against Arizona, missing shots, losing the ball on self-caused turnovers and lots of fouling.

Good thing for UConn, the Wildcats were doing the same thing in an ugly first half that included nearly as many combined turnovers (19) and fouls (17) as made field goals (20).

Arizona led 30-23 at halftime in large part because UConn had trouble matching up with Ristic, who had 10 points and six rebounds at halftime. Deandre Ayton, the Wildcats’ other 7-footer, was limited to 7 minutes due to foul trouble.

Both teams weeded out most of the ugliness to start the second half. UConn scored the first seven points to tie it and the teams played with a fluidity that was missing in the first half.

Ristic kept getting the ball inside and scoring, while Alkins gave Arizona a lift, scoring eight quick points after a shoulder to the face sent him briefly to the bench.

Larrier, Adams and Vital kept the Huskies within reach, answering nearly every time Arizona tried to pull away.

Arizona made a late push and the Huskies had no answer, losing by 15 in a game that was still close with 5 minutes left.

BIG PICTURE

UConn played well in the second half, but is still searching for that signature win.

Arizona continues its roll with a big second half, doing it with Ayton limited to nine points.

UP NEXT

UConn plays at Auburn on Saturday.

Arizona hosts rival No. 3 Arizona State on Dec. 30.

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