Arizona defeated Colorado 92-78 to move on to the semi-finals of the PAC-12 Tournament. Here’s a closer look at what happened:
Player of the Game:
Dusan Ristic - The junior center played one of his best games in weeks against Colorado. Ristic just missed out on a double-double as he finished with 15 points and eight rebounds. He was efficient, hitting seven of his eight shots in the game. Ristic was active early and was big in Arizona's runs to get some space on the scoreboard.
* Arizona fell behind early, but was able to get back into the game with a solid effort on both ends of the floor. The Wildcats trailed 13-9 before going on a 10-2 run that started with a Parker Jackson-Cartwright three ball as the shot clock buzzer went off. Derrick White answered with a layup almost immediately, but Kobi Simmons got a layup before a Chance Comanche dunk gave the Wildcats the lead.
* It was close at halftime with the Wildcats leading by one, but Arizona came out fired up in the second half. Lauri Markkanen hit a three-pointer and then hit two free throws before a Ristic hook shot gave the Wildcats a 45-37 lead in just over two minutes. Rawle Alkins added a bucket of his own and forced Colorado to call a timeout.
* Just when it looked like Colorado was about to make a big run, Arizona flipped the script. With under 12 minutes to go in the game, the Buffs had hit a three to cut Arizona's lead to just seven. After a timeout from Sean Miller, Alkins and Markkanen hit back-to-back three pointers to break Colorado's back.
Despite having some slow moments, Arizona played pretty well. Kadeem Allen played solid defense when he was on the court, but had a few plays get away from him and it caused him some foul trouble. The Wildcats did have a stretch where it struggled to score, but shot 48-percent in the first half and 56-percent for the game, so the offense was not bad as it may have seemed.
One of the biggest positives in the game for the Wildcats was the return of Lauri Markkanen's outside shot. The big man hit a three-pointer early on and then a huge long ball to start the second half when Arizona needed a pick me up the most. Markkanen finished with 20 points on five of nine shooting, including hitting four three pointers. The Wildcats desperately needed Markkanen to get back to his old self after he had struggled from deep lately. If he is back on track, Arizona becomes that much more dangerous.
Sean Miller Quotable:
"Whether we win or not, it's not going to be because of lack of effort or passion," Miller said. "These guys have been there from the first day in late August until now. They've given us every single thing that you can give as a team. Hopefully we can keep this going, whether it's this week or next week."
"I think early on we struggled defensively, but I think we did some good things to make minor changes that helped pick it up in the second half," Trier said. "I think it was good for us."