After battling for the first 30 minutes in enemy territory on Thursday night, the University of Colorado Buffaloes fell to their Pac-12 foes, No. 10 ranked University of Arizona, 68-54. But the 14-point setback wasn’t all for loss, though.
Despite the strong, late second-half surge by the Wildcats that ultimately did the Buffs in, one bright spot highlighted Colorado’s loss—senior guard Askia Booker proved to be the only reason that the Buffs were even in the game, as he led all scorers with a career-high 30 points.
No other player on the team scored more than eight points. Although CU struggled to get much of anything going on offense in the second half, their offensive numbers actually topped those of the Wildcats.
For the night, they went 21-49 from the field (42.9 percent) and 7-18 from the three-point range (38.9 percent). Arizona, on the other hand, only made 23 of their 55 field goals (41.8 percent) and matched Colorado’s efficiency behind the arc with 7-18.
The difference, however, lied in their scoring distribution and rebounding margin. Unlike the Buffaloes, three Wildcats scored in double-digits, with freshman phenom Stanley Johnson highlighting their stats sheet with 22 points. They also outrebounded the Buffs 41-26.
Going into Thursday night’s matchup, the Buffs knew it wouldn’t be easy. Not only would they be playing a top-10 opponent on the road, but they were forced to play against their Pac-12 foe without two of their better players, junior forwards Josh Scott and Xavier Johnson.
Starting out, things were looking good for the Buffs after they gained an early 9-4 lead in the dreaded McKale Center. But that positivity for Colorado didn’t last long. Over the next three minutes, the Wildcats went on an 11-0 scoring tangent to regain a lead they wouldn’t lose for the rest of the half as well as the game.
The Buffs kept fighting, though, and managed to pull within one point with five minutes left in the half before Arizona went on yet another large, unanswered scoring run of 12 points. Despite Colorado’s best efforts, they only managed to cut their foes’ lead to just 10 points by halftime, the scoreline reading 35-25.
But if it weren’t for Booker, the Buffs wouldn’t have been in the game at all. Out of CU’s four scorers in the first half, Booker accounted for 18 of the team’s 25 points. Sophomore forward Wesley Gordon trailed directly behind him with three.
Throughout the first 20 minutes of play, the Buffs managed to sink 10 of their 22 field goals (45.5 percent) and shot 4-9 from the three point range (44.4 percent). Every single three-point shot came from Booker. They also only managed to accumulate 11 total rebounds.
Arizona’s players, on the other hand, shared the scoring a little more evenly. Johnson led the Wildcats with 12 points as four other players distributed the scoring responsibility.
Although Arizona’s shooting percentages weren’t much different from the Buffaloes, they fared much better on the offensive side of the ball. They shot 13-30 from the field (43.3 percent) and only 3-8 from downtown (37.5 percent) while grabbing ten more boards than Colorado with 21.
The Buffs started out strong in the second half as they outscored the Wildcats 7-2 in the opening minutes to pull within five, but that quickly spiraled out of control. Throughout a good chunk of the remainder of the game, the Buffs maintained Arizona’s fast-paced style of play and managed to stay within about five points.
But during the last 10 minutes of play, Arizona completely took over, amassing a 17-point lead with three minutes left in the game. By the time the final buzzer sounded, Arizona sealed their victory 68-54.
The Buffs fall to 9-7 on the season as they head to Tempe, AZ to take on the Arizona State Sun Devils on Saturday at 2:30 p.m.
Contact CU Independent staff writer Alissa Noe at firstname.lastname@example.org.