The University of Colorado Buffaloes went on the road for their first three games of Pac-12 conference play. They will return to Boulder with no wins to show for their efforts after falling to the No. 17 Arizona Wildcats 82-73 Saturday night.
It was a tough outing for the Buffs in Arizona. The team shot struggled to find consistency on either end of the court. A hot start saw Colorado up 10-1 with 16:30 left in the first half. By halftime, the Buffs were down 39-27.
Colorado’s slump after the strong start was noticeably frustrating to head coach Tad Boyle. Pac-12 Network television analysts mentioned multiple times how emotional the coach was on the sideline. That crescendoed when Boyle received a technical foul from the sideline.
After falling to a 12-point deficit at the half, the Buffs couldn’t fight back when play resumed. Colorado went down 59-39 with 11:35 left in the game.
But the team was able to rally from this low point in the game. A Colorado run led to a surprisingly close game as the Buffs came within five points — 69-64 — with 2:54 minutes left. However, it was too little too late for the visitors, and Arizona was able to close out the game strong.
For the first time in this season’s conference play, senior guard Derrick White looked mortal. White led the team in scoring in the team’s first two Pac-12 matchups, but failed to crack double digits on the score board on Saturday. He finished with seven points.
The Wildcats deserve credit for guarding White well. To compensate for his loss in productivity, CU senior guard Xavier Johnson tried to take charge.
Johnson chose to take a bold strategy on the offensive end. “Fire at will” was the plan when the ball was in his hands. He took 20 shots, half of those coming from behind the arc. The player with the next highest shots finished with eight. Johnson finished with 26 points.
Colorado as a team tried to find their shot from deep. No one could, with the team making only 31 percent of their attempts. Of the team’s 62 shots, 29 came from behind the arc, but the low accuracy was a big part of CU’s falling out of the game.
Another big reason for Colorado slipping was turnovers. The Buffs coughed it up 25 times. Arizona was efficient when that happened, scoring 24 of their points on takeaways compared to the Buffs’ 13.
The Buffs also couldn’t stop Arizona’s front court. The tandem of forward Lauri Markkanen and center Dusan Ristic led the attack on offense. They scored 22 and 17 points, respectively, while also leading the team in rebounds.
With the loss, the Buffs drop to 10-6 on the season and a startling 0-3 in conference play. They will look to improve in conference play Thursday in Boulder at 9 p.m. against No. 4 UCLA.
Contact CU Independent Copy Editor Jake Mauff at firstname.lastname@example.org.