TUCSON, Ariz. — Once again, the Colorado Buffaloes were undone by a 24-5 run.
It was almost exactly two weeks earlier that Oregon State blitzed the Buffs over the final seven-plus minutes of a Jan. 5 game in Boulder, turning a late 11-point CU lead into a bitter defeat. Arizona didn’t wait that long to pounce on the Buffs Saturday afternoon, using a 24-5 run during the middle stages of the first half to take control in what became a 75-54 CU defeat in a Pac-12 Conference battle at the McKale Center.
CU led early at 10-5 when Arizona scored the first nine points of the run that became a 24-5 advantage. The 20th-ranked Buffs never truly threatened the Wildcats the rest of the way.
“Transition defense for us wasn’t where it needs to be,” CU forward Evan Battey said. “And offensive rebounds. When those two things don’t go our way, we’re in for a long night.”
Freshman guard Nico Mannion began the decisive run with a long 2-pointer before Max Hazzard drained a 3-pointer that pulled UA even with the Buffs.
While CU head coach Tad Boyle was quick to credit Arizona for one of the Wildcats’ most complete performances of the season, he noted the Buffs also struggled against a defensive wrinkle from UA they didn’t see coming.
“I credit Arizona. I don’t want to take anything away from them because they were sound defensively. They were ready to play tonight,” Boyle said. “They were switching one through five on ball screens. Their bigs were guarding our guards and their little guys were fronting our posts. We’ve got to do a better job of exposing that. I thought when that happened, the ball stopped moving for us. And the ball can’t stop moving. It has to keep moving, because the only way you’re going to have success against Arizona is to get them in rotations. And then attack them. We did that a couple times, but with that switching, we didn’t handle it very well.”
CU senior Lucas Siewert made his first free throw attempt of the game Saturday to improve to 19-for-19 on the season before missing two of his next three…Battey was held to a season-low one rebound…Arizona’s Hazzard, a graduate transfer from UC Irvine, was shooting .333 on 3-pointers through the Wildcats’ first 15 games. But he went 3-for-6 against the Buffs and is 9-for-16 in the past two games…D’Shawn Schwartz had missed 13 consecutive 3-poiners before knocking down his final two attempts on Saturday…The Buffs recorded more turnovers (12) than assists (9) for just the first time in the past eight games…Siewert’s nine rebounds was his third-best total of the season and his best mark since he grabbed nine rebounds against Sacramento State on Nov. 30…Arizona’s top three bench players — Hazzard, Ira Lee, and Jemarl Baker — shot a combined 9-for-15.