TUCSON, Ariz. — The Colorado Buffaloes traveled to Arizona as the top rebounding team in the Pac-12 Conference, at least in terms of average rebounding margin.
They will return to Colorado in dire need of a remedial course in the simple art of boxing out.
While the 20th-ranked Buffs were able to get away with a poor rebounding night during Thursday’s win at Arizona State, they were unable to do so again on Saturday against a far more talented Arizona squad. The Wildcats dominated CU on the glass and never looked back after a lopsided first-half run that led to a 75-54 CU defeat at the McKale Center.
The loss dropped CU to 0-8 at the McKale Center since joining the Pac-12 Conference, and it was the Buffs’ ninth loss in a row overall at Arizona.
“We got their best shot,” CU head coach Tad Boyle said. “I’m disappointed because I don’t feel like we played as well as we’re capable of playing. Every time you feel like that as a coach, you’re disappointed in yourself. I have to look inwardly on that. But credit Arizona. They’re a tough team. When their shooters are making shots like they were tonight, they’re tough to guard. Those guys can shoot. When you let them get up threes and they make them, they’re going to be tough to beat.”
After surrendering 17 offensive rebounds against a weak-rebounding Arizona State team in a win Thursday, the Buffs allowed Arizona to grab 13 offensive rebounds, with seven from freshman Zeke Nnaji. Arizona turned those extra chances into 13 second-chance points, and overall Arizona outrebounded the Buffs 39-25, marking the largest rebounding deficit suffered by the Buffs since ASU outrebounded CU by 14 on Jan. 5, 2019 in Tempe.
Prior to the road trip, the Buffs had been outrebounded just three times in 16 games. But it has now occurred in consecutive games, with Arizona’s Ira Lee even recording a putback bucket on a missed free throw in the second half. Additionally, CU entered the game having held its previous eight opponents to a .226 mark on 3-pointers. Arizona shot .409 from the arc, going 9-for-22.
“It was obvious. Everybody in the country saw it today. We got our butts whooped on the rebounding,” CU point guard McKinley Wright IV said. “That was really it. Other than that, we played a decent game. The offense got stagnant at points. We weren’t prepared for them to switch one through five, but I don’t think our offense was the problem. I think it was the offensive rebounds. We cut the 13 to six, we’re in the game.”
On a day that saw the Buffs post a season-low scoring total, CU actually enjoyed a decent start and led 10-5 in the early stages. However, Arizona quickly caught fire, scoring nine consecutive points in what became a 24-5 run by the Wildcats. Arizona led 34-23 at halftime and gradually extended the lead throughout the second half.
“The biggest reason (rebounding) was a problem was Zeke Nnaji and Ira Lee. And our guards have to help us more,” Boyle said. “Those guys are loads down there. They go after every rebound. They’re tough. They’re strong. They’re athletic. I tip my hat to those kids, they kicked our tail. We gave up 30 offensive rebounds on this road trip. That’s a little bit of an alarm bell that goes off for me. So we have to get tougher on the boards. We’ve got to compete better rebounding the ball than we did. I thought we got out-toughed. You get outrebounded by 14, that doesn’t happen to Colorado very often.”
What went right: Not much, though a decent turnover total of 12 would have been even more impressive if not for three shot clock violations against the Buffs.
What went wrong: CU was outrebounded 39-25, with Arizona turning 13 offensive rebounds into 13 second-chance points.
Star of the game: McKinley Wright IV. It wasn’t Wright’s best game, but he matched a season-high with three 3-pointers and paced the Buffs with 15 points and five assists.
What’s next: The Buffs host the Washington schools, beginning with a date Thursday against a Washington State team coming off a home sweep of the Oregon teams.
Arizona 75, No. 20 Colorado 54
COLORADO (14-4, 3-2 Pac-12 )
Wright 5-11 2-2 15, Schwartz 4-8 2-4 12, Bey 2-4 5-7 9, Siewert 3-8 2-4 8, Battey 0-2 0-0 0, Daniels 0-3 0-0 0, Kountz 1-4 0-0 2, Gatling 0-5 0-0 0, Walton 1-2 0-0 2, Parquet 2-2 0-0 6, Strating 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 18-49 11-17 54.es
ARIZONA (13-5, 3-2)
Nnaji 4-10 3-4 12, Mannion 4-11 4-5 12, Smith 4-9 2-2 13, Green 6-13 1-2 13, Lee 3-5 0-0 6, Hazzard 3-6 0-0 9, Gettings 1-1 0-0 3, Baker 3-4 0-0 7, Koloko 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 28-59 10-13 75.
Halftime — Arizona 34-23. 3-point goals — Colorado 7-23 (Wright 3-6, Parquet 2-2, Schwartz 2-5, Daniels 0-1, Kountz 0-1, Gatling 0-4, Siewert 0-4), Arizona 9-22 (Hazzard 3-6, Smith 3-7, Gettings 1-1, Nnaji 1-1, Baker 1-2, Green 0-2, Mannion 0-3). Rebounds — Colorado 25 (Siewert 7), Arizona 39 (Nnaji 12). Assists — Colorado 9 (Wright 5), Arizona 13 (Mannion 6). Total fouls — Colorado 14, Arizona 15. A — 14,279.