No. 6 Arizona Pulls Away to Beat Colorado 76-55
TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) Azoulas Tubelis and Justin Kier scored 14 points, and No. 6 Arizona overwhelmed Colorado in the second half for a 76-55 win Thursday night.
The Wildcats (13-1, 3-0 Pac-12) dominated early, let the Buffaloes back in it and used a big run to start the second half to pull away. Arizona shot 51% and had 20 assists on 29 field goals to match its best start since 2015-16.
Colorado (11-4, 3-12) recovered from its slow start in the first half, but couldn't bounce back from one in the second to remain winless in 11 all-time games at McKale Center. The Buffaloes had another rough shooting night from the perimeter, finishing 4 for 20 from 3. Colorado is shooting 28% from the arc the past six games.
Former Arizona signee K.J. Simpson led Colorado with 17 points.
Arizona had a bit of trouble with Washington's zone defense in its first game back from a 16-day break, turning it over 21 times. The Wildcats made up for it in all other aspects on offense, shooting 55% while assisting on 28 of 33 field goals in the 95-79 win.
Arizona got off to a great start against Colorado, holding the Buffaloes without a field for nearly six minutes to start and forcing seven early turnovers while building a 15-point lead.
Then the Wildcats' turnover issues returned.
Good with the ball early, Arizona started giving it away. Colorado took advantage, going on a 12-2 run to cut the lead to 29-26. The Buffaloes scored 10 points off the Wildcats' eight first-half turnovers, turning what appeared to be headed toward a rout into a manageable 32-28 halftime deficit.
Arizona quickly made it unmanageable by taking better care of the ball and making 7 of their first 12 shots. The Wildcats opened the second half on a 15-4 run to go up 49-34 and made sure there was no second-half comeback.
Arizona beat the Buffaloes on several backdoor cuts and took advantage of slow defensive rotations to hit 17 of 30 shots in the second half. Colorado continued to misfire from the 3-point arc, shooting () of () in the second half.
Slow starts in both halves put Colorado in a tough spot. The Buffaloes fought back in the first half, but couldn't in the second for a rough start to a stretch of games against the Pac-12's top teams.
Arizona shook off its first-half turnover problems with a dominating second half to beat Colorado yet again at McKale Center.
Colorado plays at Arizona State on Saturday.
Arizona hosts Utah Saturday.
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Colorado head coach Tad Boyle
"I was really proud of our guys for fighting through the first half. We didn't come out very good. Some of our lack of offense led to transition baskets for them. But once we kind of settled in, our guys fought back. We guarded and we started moving the ball. This crowd can speed guys up. We only have two guys on our team that have played in front of this crowd – Evan and Eli – so the rest of those guys were a little sped up and it wasn't clicking early. But we fought our way back.
In the second half, number one, I did an awful job. We gave up way too many layups and transition baskets obviously. And then on offense, we got selfish. We all want to try to do it ourselves after one pass and we really went our separate ways on offense. That can't happen and that's my fault.
"I told our team after the game, the two things that are driving me crazy are: we did not want Arizona to beat us with layups. If they are going to beat us, beat us with the jump shot. And we gave up layup after layup after layup. So I told them I was going to take them out when they give up a layup. And then I said I was going to take them out when they take bad shots."
- Arizona's 32 points at halftime marked its second-lowest scoring first half this season following its 21 points at halftime at Tennessee.
- The Wildcats' scoring was split evenly in the first half with 16 bench points and 16 points from the starting five.
- Arizona tallied nine assists on 12 made baskets in the first half against Colorado with point guard Kerr Kriisa accounting for six of the nine assists.
- Kriisa's six assists in the first half of Thursdays game tied his career best for a half when he also had six in the first half versus Sacramento State earlier this season.
- After shooting 12 of 27 for 44.4% in the first half, the Wildcats offense picked up its efficiency in the first 12 minutes of the second half with 12-of-19 shooting for 63.2%
- Kerr Kriisa finished the game with 10 assists for a new career high, surpassing his previous high of nine versus Sacramento State earlier this season.
- Kriisa becomes the first Wildcat to tally double-digit assists in a game since Nico Mannion record 10 versus Gonzaga on Dec. 14, 2019.
- The Arizona bench eclipsed 20 points on Saturday night for the ninth time this season.
- Justin Kier finished Thursday's win over Colorado with a season-high 14 points.
- Thursday's 21-point victory over the Buffaloes matched its largest margin of victory over CU in a game since defeating the Buffs 75-54 on Jan. 18, 2020. It was also the Wildcats' 12 consecutive win over CU in McKale Center and 15 wins in the last 19 head-to-head meetings.