Arizona defeated Colorado on Thursday for numerous reason. Read on to see news and notes on how the Wildcats got it done.
After being in control for most of the contest, Arizona
was forced to resist a second-half run by Colorado
that cut the Wildcats lead all the way down to two points.
UA was able to fend off CU with a couple of big shots and six clutch free throws down the stretch to defeat the Buffaloes 79-69 on Thursday afternoon.
The victory extends Arizona's Pac-12 Tournament stay for at least one more contest and sends Colorado home with its NCAA Tournament chances now in the hands of the selection committee.
The Wildcats performed well as a team on both ends of the floor with everyone chipping in points and bringing a strong effort defensively. With everyone contributing, UA was able to advance against a very tough opponent.
After weeks of struggle, sophomore Nick Johnson put forth the strongest effort out of any Wildcat player for the second straight contest. The guard concluded the contest with 18 points on a very efficient 6-for-7 from the floor, including a perfect 2-for-2 from beyond the arc.
He also connected on four out of his five attempts from the charity stripe, while finding ways to make an impact in other areas. Johnson added three assists and brought the defense with a steal and a block on the afternoon.
Solomon Hill's impact in the game was felt all around. The senior finished with 13 points and brought the energy as he made his impression in a variety of ways. Hill grabbed a team-high seven rebounds, dished out four assists, and collected a steal.
His impact on the glass was very important with four of his rebounds coming on the offensive end of the floor. Hill's extra effort allowed UA to keep possessions alive and obtain several crucial second-chance opportunities.
Senior Mark Lyons struggled shooting the ball (4-for-13 overall, 2-for-9 from three-point range) but he hit a clutch three-pointer to beat the shot-clock late in the contest and connected on four important free throws in the final minute.
He was struggling mightily up until that point, but the way he came through in the final two minutes was exactly what the Wildcats needed at the time.
Arizona's bench left its mark on the game and outplayed its Colorado counterparts. UA's reserves out-scored Colorado's 25-11 and held advantages in virtually every other statistical category as well.
The play of Jordin Mayes off the bench was one of Arizona's most welcomed bright spots of the afternoon. After struggling for much of the regular season, Mayes seems to be finding a little bit of a comfort level at the right time.
The junior guard finished with eight points on 3-for-7 shooting including 2-for-3 from long range. Mayes' long distance shooting is supposed to be his specialty, so if he is able to build off his last two games, UA becomes a whole lot more dangerous going forward.
Another bench player that made a huge impact was freshman Grant Jerrett. The big man scored seven points on 2-for-5 shooting and grabbed six rebounds to lead all reserves. His real impact, however, was on the defensive end of the floor.
Jerrett was a menace in the paint, where he blocked four shots and he also disrupted the Buffs' offensive flow by picking up a pair of steals.
Fellow freshman Brandon Ashley also came a bit alive. He didn't shoot particularly well overall (just 3-for-9 from the floor), but he did score eight points, dish out three assists, and was right behind Jerrett in the rebounding department with five boards.
Like Jerrett, Ashley made his presence felt on the defensive end of the floor by blocking a pair of shots and collecting a steal.
Arizona's team defense was very disruptive and got under Colorado's skin all afternoon. As a team, the Wildcats blocked seven shots, collected seven steals, and forced the Buffaloes into committing 13 turnovers.
CU was able to shoot the ball well when it found open looks, but the problem for Colorado was that those good looks were few and far between.
Perhaps the biggest difference in Thursday's affair was the Wildcats' ability to take care of the ball while getting everyone on the court involved. Arizona dished out 16 assists as a team while committing just 10 turnovers in the process.
Meanwhile, Colorado struggled in this area. The Buffaloes were hounded by an aggressive UA defense and committed 13 turnovers. What may have set them back even further was their inability to move the ball around effectively. Throughout 40 minutes of basketball, CU totaled just six assists as a team.