Arizona's defense proved again why it's the best in the nation and wreaked havoc to beat the Buffaloes 63-43 in the Pac-12 Tournament semifinals Friday night. The game was very similar to the last time these two teams met with Arizona routing the Buffs in the second half as the they outscored Colorado 36-19 in the final 20 minutes. Colorado scored a season-low 43 points and only two Buffs were in double figures as Askia Booker scored 12 points and Xavier Johnson finished with 11.
Things the Buffaloes did well:
The Buffs hung around for as long as they could and only trailed 27-24 at halftime. Their defense held Arizona to 35 percent shooting in the first 20 minutes as Colorado dared Arizona to shoot and didn't let them get penetration into the lane. Colorado forced eight Arizona turnovers in the first half and 12 throughout the game. On offense, the Buffs only committed two turnovers in the first half and were getting out in transition as much as possible which led to some easy baskets.
Things the Buffaloes struggled with:
The Buffs just couldn't score against Arizona's amazing defense. They simply had to force up bad shots because nothing else was available. Colorado did grab 10 offensive rebounds, but couldn't secure anything on defense and allowed 13 offensive rebounds to Arizona. The Wildcats outrebounded the Buffs 41-25.
Colorado's defense slowly started crumbling as the second half went on. With the offense struggling, the defense couldn't hold its own and a variety of thunderous blocks and dunks from Arizona sapped the intensity from the Colorado players. The Buffs trailed 38-32 with 14:02 to go and they didn't score again until 7:58 to play in the second half. During that stretch, Arizona went on a 13-0 run to make the score 51-32. At that point, the game was over. Colorado only made 3 of its first 16 field goal attempts in the second half which helped contribute to a 29 percent shooting night from the field while Arizona ended the game shooting 46 percent.
When defenses force bad shots, the free-throw line can sometimes be the answer to help the scoring, but it wasn't there for the Buffs. When points were at a premium, Colorado went 9-of-14 from the free-throw line and didn't get to the charity stripe enough.
Selection Sunday is when the Buffs will find out who they will face in the NCAA Tournament. Colorado has locked up an at-large berth and will likely receive a double digit seed.