Snapshot: No. 8 Arizona 78, CU Buffs MBB 68
Turning point: After CU jumped to an 18-6 lead, Arizona answered with a 12-0 run and never relinquished the momentum.
Buff of the game: Tristan da Silva. Despite sitting the final 11:33 of the first half after picking up his second foul, the junior forward still finished 7-for-13 with 18 points and five rebounds.
What’s next?: CU plays its final three regular season games at home, beginning Thursday against USC (7 p.m., ESPN2).
TUCSON, Ariz. — It was a fun start. Unfortunately for Colorado, the fun didn’t last long.
The CU men’s basketball team couldn’t have scripted a better start as it attempted to conjure an upset bid at No. 8 Arizona. The Wildcats quickly flipped that script, however, gradually pulling away to hand the Buffs a 78-68 defeat on Saturday night at the McKale Center.
CU remains winless at McKale (0-11) since joining the Pac-12 Conference, and the Buffs have lost 13 consecutive road games overall at Arizona.
“We got thinking that scoring was going to be easy, because we played so well offensively out of the chute,” CU head coach Tad Boyle said. “And then we came down and we took four or five quick jump shots. Those jump shots turned into transition points for them because they didn’t go in. The one thing you have to be careful of in this building when you’re playing Arizona is if you shoot the ball in five seconds, and you don’t make it, it’s the first pass of their fast break. Their offense got going off of our bad offense.”
It was a sloppy start for the Wildcats, who committed four turnovers in the game’s first 1 minute, 46 seconds. The Buffaloes took advantage, hitting six of their first nine shots while jumping to a quick 18-6 lead.
Yet that opening burst basically summed up the highlights for CU.
The Wildcats abruptly came alive and buried the Buffs in a hurry, outscoring CU 40-16 over the remainder of the first half to take a 46-34 lead at halftime. After the opening flurry of miscues, Arizona committed just one more turnover during the rest of the first half.
One of the early sparks for CU was provided by junior forward Tristan da Silva, who made three of his first four shots to post nine early points. But he picked up his second foul with 11:33 still to play in the first half, and Boyle opted to keep da Silva on the bench until the second half. While da Silva sat, Arizona outscored the Buffs 28-14.
“When we went to our bench, it was a feeding frenzy offensively for them,” Boyle said. “Which was disappointing, because I thought they played so well for us on Thursday (at Arizona State). Our starters got us off to a good start. They made their run when we subbed. I thought our impatience really, really hurt us in the first half.”
CU scored the first five points of the second half to pull within 46-39, but the Wildcats scored the next five and maintained a double-digit lead the rest of the way.
Da Silva finished with 18 points and five rebounds, and Luke O’Brien was a bright spot in his second consecutive start, recording another near-double-double with nine points and nine rebounds. Javon Ruffin added 13 points, which accounted for all of CU’s bench points.
Overall, though, the Buffs struggled offensively, recording a .387 field goal percentage while going 7-for-24 on 3-pointers.
Arizona forward Oumar Ballo recorded his 10th double-double of the season, posting 18 points with a career-high 16 rebounds.
“We got off to a good start and were moving the ball really well, playing inside-out and getting the shots that we wanted,” O’Brien said. “And then we kind of got a little selfish, I felt like, towards the middle part of the first half and we were jacking up shots that we shouldn’t have. And then the second half I thought we got back to what we were doing, inside-out and good looks. They just weren’t falling tonight.”
No. 8 Arizona 78, Colorado 68
Colorado (15-13, 7-10 Pac-12)
da Silva 7-13 3-3 18, Lovering 4-7 0-2 8, O’Brien 3-8 2-2 9, Simpson 3-13 5-7 12, Clifford 2-5 3-4 8, Hammond III 0-6 0-0 0, Gabbidon 0-0 0-0 0, Wright 0-0 0-0 0, Ruffin 5-10 0-0 13. Totals 24-62 13-18 68.
Arizona (24-4, 13-4 Pac-12)
Tubelis 5-10 3-4 13, Henderson Jr. 6-8 2-3 15, Ballo 8-13 2-4 18, Ramey 2-10 3-4 9, Kriisa 2-7 0-0 6, Larsson 1-2 9-11 11, Boswell 3-5 0-0 6. Totals 27-5519-26 78.
Halftime — Arizona 46-34. 3-point field goals — Colorado 7-24 (da Silva 1-4, O’Brien 1-4, Simpson 1-6, Clifford 1-2, Hammond III 0-1, Ruffin 3-7); Arizona 5-13 (Henderson Jr. 1-1, Ramey 2-7, Kriisa 2-4, Boswell 0-1). Rebounds — Colorado 36 (O’Brien 9); Arizona 37 (Ballo 16). Assists — Colorado 14 (Simpson 7); Arizona 16 (Ramey 5). Total fouls — Colorado 18, Arizona 16. Fouled out — O’Brien. A — 14,688.