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Buffs Fall To Wildcats In Pac-12 Opener

Dec 28, 2020

Notes | WATCH: Tad Boyle Postgame | Stats (PDF) | Boxscore


TUCSON, Ariz. — Colorado's offense went cold in the second half Monday as the Buffaloes dropped an 88-74 decision to Arizona in their Pac-12 opener.

CU fell to 6-2 overall (0-1 Pac-12) while Arizona improved to 7-1, 1-1.

Tad Boyle's Buffs led, 44-42, with just two minutes left in the first half, only to see the Wildcats close with an 8-0 run for a 50-44 halftime lead. CU cut the deficit back to three early in the second half before Arizona used a 10-2 surge to take control and the Buffs could never climb back into striking range.

Evan Battey led the Buffs with 18 points — 14 in the first half — and Maddox Daniels added 12, all on 3-pointers. McKinley Wright IV had 10 points, five rebounds and four assists while Jeriah Horne grabbed a team-high eight rebounds.

James Akinjo led UA with 22 points.

The Buffs were outscored 38-18 in the paint and 18-0 in fastbreak points. CU also shot just 33% from the field in the second half after hitting 51.6% of its shots in the first 20 minutes. Arizona shot 52.6 percent for the game.

"Arizona was better tonight," said Boyle, whose Buffs dropped to 0-9 on the Wildcats' home floor since joining the Pac-12. "They deserved to win the game … We had some good individual performances but as a team we didn't get things going, especially in the second half. That's on me. I take responsibility for that. We hang our hat on defense and that's the second team in a row that's shot 52 percent or higher on us."

HOW IT HAPPENED: After a see-saw first 18 minutes that featured 13 lead changes, Colorado held a 44-42 lead following a Maddox Daniels 3-pointer with 2:09 left in the half.

But the Buffs then went scoreless down the stretch — including missing the front end of a one-and-one free throw opportunity — while the Wildcats scored the final eight points of the half for a 50-44 halftime edge. The UA run included six points in the final 35 seconds, with James Akinjo hitting a running 3-pointer at the buzzer.

The Buffs did manage to cut the deficit back to three early in the second half after D'Shawn Schwartz's second 3-pointer of the half pulled CU to within 53-50. But the Wildcats answered with a 10-2 run to take control and the Buffs were never able to pull closer than eight again.

"You give up 38 points in the paint to 18, so you're down 20 there," Boyle said. "Then you have fastbreak points where you get zero and they get 18 — that's 38 points. In a 14-point game, if we even those tides a little bit it's anybody's game. But we didn't do that."

The Buffs were hurt by foul troubles in the second half, with Battey — who had 14 points in the first half — drawing his second and third fouls early in the period, then getting whistled for his fourth midway through the half.

CU also struggled to find any offensive rhythm in the second half.

"That comes from lack of patience, lack of understanding that against Arizona it's not going to be one pass, jump shot and get back in the game," Boyle said. "We're a veteran group. We've got to be more mature and more patient, understanding that against a good defensive team you're not going to score right away."

Colorado took a 13-10 six minutes in after the Buffs converted four offensive rebounds into nine points. UA rallied midway through the half with a 9-3 run to take a 37-32 lead before the Buffs answered with their own 9-3 surge after a timeout to regain the lead, 41-40.

TURNING POINT: Arizona's 8-0 run over the final two minutes of the first half — including six points in the final 35 seconds — turned momentum in UA's favor and the Buffs never recovered.

WHAT IT MEANS: The Buffs don't have much time to lick their wounds, as they continue their road trip with games at USC on Thursday and UCLA on Saturday. CU needs at least one win in Los Angeles to salvage the road trip before returning home for a four-game homestand,

KEY STATISTICS: The Buffs were outscored 38-18 in the paint … CU gave up 18 fastbreak points and did not have a transition basket of its own … Colorado allowed a second straight opponent to shoot at least 52 percent from the field.

NEXT UP: The Buffs continue their three-game road trip with a Thursday stop at USC (7 p.m., ESPN2) before wrapping it up Saturday in a 6 p.m game at UCLA.