For the first time in this rivalry, the Colorado Buffaloes took on the Arizona Wildcats as favorites. The 5.5-line was because CU is the better team, straight up, in addition to the CU Events Center. Offensive struggles be damned, Colorado was the better team tonight, and they even covered the spread with a 67-60 win.
Offensive struggles were set to come, but in the first ten minutes, the Buffaloes were off to a scorching start. With Tyler Bey working inside, Lucas Siewert hitting shots and Evan Battey (now healthy) working in the post, they made their first 10 of 11 shots (plus 5/5 on FTs). Those looks weren’t exactly easy, either. Arizona’s litany of former blue chip recruits are all lengthy and quite athletic, and with Sean Miller preaching defense, they’re always going to be tough to score on.
Colorado built an early 11-point lead as their sweet shooting was combined with disruptive defense. Arizona isn’t exactly skilled and that showed. For a while, their only idea on offense was to let former 5-star Duke commit Chase Jeter work in the post, but, uh, he kinda sucks. It was quite entertaining to see him incessantly call for the ball in the post, badly miss every post attempt, then call for it again the very next possession. Otherwise, the only good offense Arizona produced came via Ryan Luther’s outside shooting.
After leading 25-14 after 10 minutes, CU finished the half leading just 34-28. Just before the halftime buzzer, the Buffs went through a six-minute scoring drought where they couldn’t create any clean look against Arizona’s forest of arms. During which, Arizona’s offense continued to scuffle, so the final 7 minutes of the half turned into an unwatchable mess of fouls, turnovers and clanked fadeaways.
Arizona tied the game at 36-36, but McKinley Wright soon realized that this Buffaloes offense doesn’t function without him making things happen. In the blink of an eye, he went on a 7-0 run by himself to get CU back into a rhythm. He was aided in his efforts by Bey and Siewert, most notably, and it was D’Shawn Schwartz’s corner three that gave CU a 51-39 lead with 10 minutes left.
Just as they did in the first half, however, Colorado’s offense soon collapsed, this time in a heap of turnovers stemming from a lack of focus. The Wildcats tried to capitalize on this offensive malaise, but with the CU’s defense contesting every shot and Bey and Co. dominating on the boards, they never went on a run.
Colorado effectively sealed this win with a pair of clutch threes from Wright and Siewert, which weren’t quite daggers, but they were enough to maintain their lead. It was after these makes that the Buffs dribbled out most of the clock. At the end of the day, this wasn’t the most impressive victory, but a win against Arizona is a fun win regardless of their seven game losing streak (lol).
Next up for the Buffs is a road trip to Washington to take on the Cougars (Wednesday, 8:00) and Huskies (Saturday, 8:30). The Buffs will likely drop Washington (they’re really good), but if they want to finish top 4 in the Pac-12, the game at Wazzu is close to a must-win.