On Monday Tad Boyle re-watched the film of Colorado's controversial 92-83 overtime loss on Jan. 3 in Tucson, Ariz.

There were a lot of tough moments to digest and correct long before Sabatino Chen's game-winning 3-pointer was taken away by the officials after a video review.

After a 3-pointer by Andre Roberson with 4:36 remaining in the first half, CU led 30-13.

After a 3-pointer by Chen with 12:41 remaining in the game, CU led 56-40.

The Buffs still led by 10 points with only 1:53 to play before missing five free throws down the stretch.

Clinging to an 80-78 lead with 18 seconds left, Jeremy Adams missed a pair of free throws. Mark Lyons then tied the game on the other end with 9.2 seconds left in regulation.

The good news for Boyle entering the rematch -- No. 9 Arizona visits the Coors Events Center on Thursday -- is that the Buffs have figured out how to close out games recently.

CU outscored Utah 28-9 over the final 12 minutes of a 58-55 loss in Salt Lake City.

During the sweep of the Oregon schools last week, the Buffs outscored the Ducks and Beavers by a combined 21-5 in the final 4:04 of the two comeback wins.

"We've finished games pretty well the last few weeks," Boyle said on Tuesday's Pac-12 coaches teleconference with the media. "Down the stretch, if you look at the last four to six minutes of every ball game, we've played well and we've finished well on both sides of the ball."


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Roberson and Spencer Dinwiddie seemed to make all of the key plays down the stretch in Eugene and Corvallis.

Josh Scott returned to form against the Beavers. Chen and Xavier Johnson seem more comfortable in their roles. Adams and Xavier Talton provided some quality minutes off the bench.

And Boyle believes it's only a matter of time until Askia Booker -- who was a dismal 8-for-41 (19.5 percent) from the field during the three consecutive road games -- gets out of his extreme shooting slump.

"We're a different team," Boyle said. "I think we're a better team than we were when we came down to Tucson in early January."

Parity bites the top

CU handed Oregon its third consecutive loss after the Ducks opened Pac-12 play 7-0 and climbed to No. 10 in the polls.

Arizona fell back into a first-place tie with Oregon and UCLA after losing 77-69 at home to Cal on Sunday.

The Bruins would be alone at the top if not for an overtime loss at Pauley Pavilion to inter-city rival USC.

"Part of what we're dealing with right now is we have a very good conference," Arizona coach Sean Miller said. "Other than the Big Ten, I'd like to think there isn't a difference in the Pac-12 and the other good conferences in the country."

Miller said the Pac-12, which had two teams make the NCAA Tournament last season, is a "lock" to get five teams into the field this March.

The three co-leaders are 8-3 in conference play with Arizona State (7-4) alone in fourth and CU, Stanford, Cal and USC all tied for fifth/eighth at 6-5.

"Two weeks ago people probably left us for dead," said Cal coach Mike Montgomery, whose team has also knocked off then-No. 10 Oregon. "If we won our last seven, (winning the conference) would have to be a possibility."

Walton tough on Howland

No one can accuse UCLA legend Bill Walton of being a homer during his broadcasts on ESPN and the Pac-12 Network.

In discussing the Bruins' head coaching situation with play-by-play partner Dave Pasch while calling one of his alma mater's recent games, Walton said: "I'm not in charge. If I were, things would be different."

Howland said Walton's criticism is so tough because he played for John Wooden, considered by most historians to be the greatest coach in college basketball history.

"Bill has been critical since he started doing our games against Missouri. He's an analyst and that's his job and he has the right to be critical and I understand that," Howland said. "His point of reference is 60-0 his first two years of eligibility."

Schedule tweaking?

Washington coach Lorenzo Romar said this week that the Pac-12 is exploring ways of improving the conference schedule format.

After losing at USC late Sunday night, the Huskies arrived back in Seattle at 3:30 a.m., took their mandatory day off on Monday, and then had only Tuesday's practice to prepare for Wednesday night's game against Oregon.

This week CU will have only Friday to prepare for Saturday's game against Arizona State. Meanwhile, the Sun Devils play at Utah Wednesday night before arriving in Boulder on Thursday and relaxing while the Buffs face Arizona.

The unbalanced schedule is designed to give the Pac-12's television partners the most programming possible.

"That comes as a result of TV. I don't think there's anything a team can do about that," Boyle said. "Unless you want to send that check back, you've got to live with that discomfort."

National numbers

Arizona slid down to No. 9 in the Associated Press and USA Today Coaches polls this week after the home loss to unranked Cal.

Oregon checked in at No. 23 in the AP poll after ending its three-game losing streak with a home win over Utah on Saturday. UCLA received votes in both polls.

My AP ballot this week: 1. Miami, 2. Duke, 3. Indiana, 4. Michigan State, 5. Michigan, 6. Gonzaga, 7. Syracuse, 8. Florida, 9. Arizona, 10. Butler, 11. Louisville, 12. Kansas State, 13. Kansas, 14. Ohio State, 15. New Mexico, 16. Pitt, 17. Oklahoma State, 18. Marquette, 19. Wisconsin, 20. Colorado State, 21. Memphis, 22. VCU, 23. Georgetown, 24. Notre Dame, 25. Akron.

CU's official NCAA RPI this week is 19 after the road sweep in Oregon. Arizona (7), UCLA (38) and Oregon (42) are also in the top 50.

Stanford (57), Cal (59) and Arizona State (66) appear to be classic bubble teams at this point.

Quotable

"When we went to the Diamond Head Classic we were under some criticism of our nonconference (schedule) at that time. I felt like that would play itself out," said Miller, whose Wildcats blew out Miami (now No. 3 in the AP poll) in the semifinals and edged San Diego State (now No. 22 in the coaches poll) in the title game in Honolulu. "For us to win that tournament gave us a lot of credibility and will as we move towards March. I also think it was great for our conference."

Notable

Arizona (20-3) has at least 20 wins for the 24th time in the last 26 seasons. ... Cal's Allen Crabbe is the Pac-12 player of the week and conference player of the year front-runner after scoring 31 points in the road win over the Wildcats.

Follow Ryan on Twitter: @RyanThorburn

Pac-12 Power Rankings

Ranking/previous (record) comment

1/1 Arizona (20-3, 8-3) -- Wildcats lose at home to Cal, rejoin Pac-12 parity party. Up next: Thursday at Colorado.

2/2 Oregon (19-5, 8-3) -- Huge win for the Buffs in Eugene over the Ducks, who are 15-1 at home. Up next: Wednesday at Washington.

3/4 UCLA (18-6, 8-3) -- Bay Area swing could make or break Bruins' regular-season title hopes. Up next: Thursday at Cal.

4/6 Colorado (16-7, 6-5) -- Road sweep of Oregon schools could lead to another fantastic finish for Tad Boyle. Up next: Thursday vs. Arizona.

5/3 Arizona State (18-6, 7-4) -- Sun Devils' visit to Boulder is just as important for CU as revenge game against Arizona. Up next: Wednesday at Utah.

6/5 Stanford (15-9, 6-5) -- Dwight Powell and Josh Huestis starting to dominate. Up next: Thursday vs. USC.

7/7 Cal (14-9, 6-5) -- Allen Crabbe making strong case for player of the year honors. Up next: Thursday vs. UCLA.

8/9 USC (11-13, 6-5) -- This is the talented and improving team the contenders don't want to see right now. Up next: Thursday at Stanford.

9/8 Washington (13-11, 5-6) -- Huskies will have to win the Pac-12 Tournament to save a disappointing season. Up next: Wednesday vs. Oregon.

10/12 Oregon State (12-12, 2-9) -- Turnover-prone Beavers are their own worst enemy. Up next: Wednesday at Washington State.

11/10 Utah (10-13, 2-9) -- Utes didn't exactly enjoy the Oregon trail as much as CU. Up next: Wednesday vs. Arizona State.

12/11 Washington State (11-13, 2-9) -- About time for a help wanted sign in Pullman. Up next: Host Oregon State on Wednesday.

-- Ryan Thorburn