What went right: CU outrebounded Arizona 31-24 and shot a Pac-12-best .558 from the floor. The Buffs also were 14-for-16 at the free throw line.
What went wrong: The Buffs went without a field goal for the final 6 minutes, 20 seconds of the first half and finished with 15 turnovers, their most since suffering 17 turnovers at Arizona Jan. 3.
Star of the game: Lucas Siewert. The junior forward put together a solid all-around game, finishing with a team-best 15 points along with nien rebounds, three assists, and one steal. Siewert went 5-for-8 from the field and made all three of his free throws.
What's next: The Buffs begin the final regular-season road trip of the year Wednesday at Washington State (8 p.m. MT, Pac-12 Network).
Sure, Arizona is mired in a losing streak of historic proportions. And every player on the Colorado Buffaloes roster will say there remains much work to be done, no matter how impressive the winning streak they suddenly have put together.
Still, as the final seconds ticked away on the Buffs' fifth straight win, this time a 67-60 decision against the reeling Wildcats Sunday night at the CU Events Center, it probably was easy for CU fans to savor the view in the Pac-12 Conference standings.
The Buffs are well-positioned for a run at a top-four finish and the accompanying first-round bye at the league tournament next month in Las Vegas. And for once they're looking down at Arizona.
It was the seventh consecutive loss for the Wildcats, a stretch UA hasn't endured since the 1982-82 season, one year before Hall of Fame coach Lute Olson arrived in Tucson to transform Arizona into a national power. It also was UA's third straight loss at the Events Center.
"Another great team victory by the Buffaloes," CU head coach Tad Boyle said. "I thought we played with great toughness tonight. Arizona played well. They played well tonight. We took their best shot, certainly in the first half. We talked about that at halftime. I've said every time we play these guys that you have to go out and beat Arizona. Because they're not going to beat themselves.
"I felt like we beat them tonight with great toughness and resolve. Didn't play our best basketball, but we played well enough to win."
The Buffs' five-game winning streak is their first within the conference since joining the Pac-12 and their first such conference streak since the 2005-06 season.
The victory also put CU in a three-way tie for fifth-place in the league heading into the final regular-season road trip of the year this week in Washington. At 7-6, the Buffs have edged over the .500 mark after starting 2-6 in league play, and they are situated beside USC and Stanford while sitting just one game behind a pair of teams at 8-5 (Utah, Arizona State).
In CU's Pac-12 opener a month ago at Arizona, the Buffs managed to build an early lead but couldn't keep pace once the Wildcats made their charge. It was a completely different story Sunday, as the Buffs answered an Arizona surge after halftime with the sort of dominant second-half run that has become a matter of routine during CU's winning streak.
Arizona never led in the contest, but after CU took 34-28 halftime lead the Wildcats reeled off an 8-2 run to open the second half, tying the game at 36-36. CU point guard McKinley Wright immediately turned things around for the Buffs, scoring the first seven points in what became a 15-3 run. The Buffs remained in control the rest of the way.
"That just shows the growth of our team since January 3rd," CU junior guard Shane Gatling said. "We learned that basketball is a game of runs. They're going to go on a run and we've got to stay together. We can't put our heads down when they make a shot. It's basketball, they're going to make shots. We've just got to stay together."
The Buffs shot .558 from the field, their best mark in conference play and their third-best of the season. While there were several individual standouts for CU — junior forward Lucas Siewert recorded 15 points and nine rebounds while making several key hustle plays in the second half, and Wright posted 14 points — the Buffs continued showcasing the team play that has highlighted the winning streak.
CU outrebounded Arizona 31-24 and went 14-for-16 at the free throw line, giving the Buffs a stellar .854 mark (82-96) on free throws during the winning streak.
"It's the mental and the toughness in our hearts," Boyle said. "We did a better job in the second half of making them guard us. We wanted to have longer possessions on offense and let them expend the energy on defense."
COLORADO 67, ARIZONA 60
ARIZONA (14-12, 5-8)
Luther 6-13 1-2 17, Jeter 5-11 0-0 10, Randolph 4-11 1-4 9, Coleman 0-2 1-2 1, Smith 6-9 0-0 16, Lee 3-4 1-2 7, Barcello 0-2 0-0 0, Doutrive 0-2 0-0 0. Totals 24-54 4-10 60.
COLORADO (16-9, 7-6)
Siewert 5-8 3-3 15, M.Wright 5-10 3-3 14, Gatling 3-7 4-4 11, Bey 4-5 1-2 9, Schwartz 1-4 2-2 5, Battey 3-6 0-1 6, Parquet 0-0 0-0 0, Kountz 3-3 1-1 7. Totals 24-43 14-16 67.
Halftime — Colorado 34-28. 3-point goals — Arizona 8-21 (Smith 4-6, Luther 4-9, Coleman 0-1, Barcello 0-2, Randolph 0-3), Colorado 5-14 (Siewert 2-5, M.Wright 1-2, Schwartz 1-3, Gatling 1-4). Fouled out — Smith. Rebounds — Arizona 24 (Jeter 8), Colorado 31 (Bey 10). Assists — Arizona 14 (Coleman 9), Colorado 11 (Gatling, Siewert 3). Total fouls — Arizona 17, Colorado 11. A — 7,899.