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Buffs Keying in on Identity

Dec 17, 2020

Game Notes

BOULDER – February of 2020 seems like it was ages ago, but in reality, it has been 10 long months. When the Colorado women's basketball takes the court against No. 6 Arizona on Friday (5 p.m. MT), it will have been almost 10 months to the date of the last meeting in Boulder.   

That last meeting was a 50-38 Colorado win over the No. 11 team in the nation. That win, marked the Buffaloes' first over an AP-ranked opponent since game three of the 2016-17 season (No. 15 Kentucky). That win was a mark that solidified a likely WNIT bid before the tournament was called off. 

Almost 10 months later and that game is now cemented in the past. 

"Honestly, we haven't even talked about it with our team," head coach JR Payne explained. "They [the team] knows we beat Arizona. They also know Aari McDonald didn't play. They [Arizona] are a different ballclub with McDonald. She's one of the best players in America. She adds a different dynamic to their team."

Colorado (3-3, 1-2 Pac-12) has already experienced a roller-coaster of emotion in this young season. From having the season postponed and then brought back earlier than expected, to the ups of starting the season 2-0 and the downs of a three-game losing streak. And now the latest thrill of the ride, Monday's 80-50 win over Utah.

It has all been a part of a larger focus, finding the Buffs' identity. 

"After a great two weeks of practice and a great game against Utah, I think we're feeling really confident in who we are," Payne expressed. "After the Oregon trip, and even the Denver game, we met as a staff and talked about how we needed to prioritize us more than our opponents. We need to have an identity before we can start adjusting to every team that we're playing. I think our team has responded to that."

The response was evident on the court against Utah. CU dominated the Utes from the opening tip, leading for all but the first 24 seconds of the game. Colorado forced early turnovers, hit early shots that weren't falling in previous games and just left no doubt. 

Monday's game was an entirely different feel from the previous three. 

"It all started after the Oregon trip," senior Mya Hollingshed said. "We had a discussion as a team about wanting to be better. Since that point, we've all made small changes to help us improve every day. The Denver game was kind of like the last game. We decided to really start turning it up at the beginning of the game instead of trying to wait until the end. I think that translated to the Utah game. We committed to each other that we were going to play 40 good minutes of basketball. We were going to play hard from the jump, hit them in the mouth and not wait for them to hit us first."

Arizona (4-0, 3-0 Pac-12) offers up another tall task on the Pac-12 schedule. The Buffs hold a 17-7 all-time advantage over the Wildcats but are just 1-4 in the last five meetings. McDonald landed on numerous preseason award watch lists and is the NCAA's active leading scorer with 1,846 career points. The Wildcats picked up Pac-12 wins against No. 9 UCLA, USC and Arizona State. Friday's game will be Arizona's first road contest of the season.   

Game time is scheduled for 5 p.m. MT. Thad Anderson and former Buff Kami Carmann Snyder will have the call on the Pac-12 Networks. The game will also be available on the TuneIn app and the Colorado Radio Network (