So it wasn't surprising to see a loose and aggressive Johnson take it to Brandon Ashley and Solomon Hill during the first half of Colorado's 92-83 overtime loss on Thursday night at the McKale Center.
The 6-7 freshman from Los Angeles finished with 13 points and six rebounds in his first start for CU.
"All my life I've been starting basketball games," Johnson said. "I came out there, played my hardest, and did what I had to do."
Sabatino Chen, coming off the bench for the first time this season, played what he said was the greatest game of his career.
The senior from Monarch High School scored 15 points, but Buffs fans believe the total should have been 18.
Chen's game-winning 3-pointer at the end of regulation was waived off by officials after they viewed a replay of the shot.
"It just hurt," Chen said of the reversal. "Even before that shot we were up 10 (points) and should have had the game won. ... Then it came down to fingertips."
CU head coach Tad Boyle will try to make the best of a bad situation. The production from Johnson and Chen in different roles is a positive.
"It will be a game by game thing and a matchup thing," Boyle said of the starting lineup. "We have six starters."
Andre Roberson fouled out with just over a minute left in regulation after grabbing 11 rebounds.
"We've got to have him in the game to rebound the ball and defend. When you lose one of your best players for the overtime, it hurt," Boyle said. "The other players feed off of Andre and they believe in him."
CU was out-rebounded 44-33. Arizona had a 17-2 edge in second-chance points.
The Buffs also shot 58.6 percent (10-for-21) at the free-throw line while the Wildcats shot 77.8 percent (28-for-36).
After practicing today, the Buffs will have dinner and then take in the Phoenix Suns home game against Utah.
Former CU shooting guard Alec Burks is in his second season with the Jazz.
"I was going to be good with either call," Arizona head coach Sean Miller said of the ruling on Chen's basket at the end of regulation. "Obviously, I wanted to win. Colorado outplayed us most of the game. Sometimes it goes your way, sometimes it doesn't. Because it banked in and knowing they didn't call it, I felt like the basketball gods weigh in on something like that."
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