After trying to battle back from a 15-point deficit at the half, the Buffs fell to No. 1 Arizona 69-57 for their fifth loss of the season (15-5, 4-3).
"We were playing the No. 1 team in the nation, but they're not that good," sophomore forward Xavier Johnson said. "We just didn't come in with the right mindset, and it's just hard playing in a different atmosphere. But that's no excuse for not being able to win. We just got to brush it off and worry about the next game."
Despite the big loss, the Buffs had a few bright spots to boast about during the game. Sophomore forward Josh Scott picked up his 18th game scoring in double-digits this season after putting up 15 points, 11 of which came in the first half. On top of that, Scott added 11 rebounds to pick up his ninth double-double of the season.
Two more Buffs stepped up to score in double-figures on offense, with Xavier Johnson leading with a game-high and season-high 21 points and Askia Booker adding 11 to that total.
For the night, the Buffs struggled on offense. They shot 20-52 (38.5%) from the field, 4-11 from the three-point range (36.4%), and were saved by their free throw shooting after making 13-14 (92.9%).
Their rebounding, however, was what kept them from disaster. They tied Arizona's rebound total at 32 by the end of the night after grabbing 19 in the first half compared to the Wildcats' 21.
Surprisingly, the Wildcats only outshot the Buffs from the field, going 29-59 (49.2%). They may have taken more shots throughout the night, but they certainly were not as efficient as the Buffs were.
Additionally, the Wildcats made 3-15 of their shots from downtown (20.0%) and only made 8-14 from the charity stripe (57.1%).
The Buffaloes' flow on offense, head coach Tad Boyle said, was the main game-changer.
"We didn't have an offensive rhythm all night," Boyle said. "They're so explosive. And we turned the ball over 16 times and had six assists. They had 16 assists and seven turnovers. That's the difference between the two offensive teams right there."
The game got off to a slow start for the Buffs, with the Wildcats going up by as much as nine points before the Buffs would score off of a pair of free throws from Scott four minutes in. After that, the Buffs went on a downward spiral.
Six minutes in, the Buffs went down by as much as 14 points before responding with a 10-2 streak to cut Arizona's lead to six. But the worst was yet to come in the half.
With four minutes left in the first, Arizona gained as much as a16-point lead on the Buffs. They tried to fight back, but only managed to cut the deficit down to 15 by the half. Going into the break, the score read 39-24 with Arizona leading.
Throughout the first, the Buffs had trouble getting the ball to the basket. They only shot 8-27 from the field (29.6%), 1-3 from the three-point range (33.3%), and went 100% from the free throw line after making all seven shots. Scott accounted for five of the free throws alone.
Scott was the only player to really produce on offense for Colorado after scoring 11 points in the first half. Additionally, he and Wesley Gordon combined for nine of their 19 rebounds.
The Wildcats, however, bested the Buffs in nearly every aspect. They shot 17-37 (45.9%) from the field, 3-11 from beyond the arc (27.3%), and 2-4 from the free throw line (50.0%).
Nick Johnson shined for the Wildcats in the first half, scoring 12 points and dishing out two assists. Brandon Ashley was right behind him with nine points and three rebounds.
The second half was only slightly better for the Buffaloes. Throughout the entire 20 minutes, the Buffs never escaped the double-digit deficit hole that they dug themselves into during the first half.
They went down by as much as 20 two separate times before they started to cut away at Arizona's lead. With 1:15 left on the clock, they cut it down to 11 points at 66-55, but that was as close as they would get.
"We actually beat them the second half," Johnson said."So we're able to show that we can win and we can beat the No. 1 team, we just got to put two halves together."
By the end of the game, the Buffs fell in an ugly loss to the top-ranked Wildcats 69-57, but Boyle looked at the optimistic side after the game.
"We have to use the positives of this," Boyle said. "In the second half, we continued to battle, we stuck together, we didn't fall apart."
Next, the Buffaloes head to Tempe, AZ to take on the Arizona State Sun Devils at 5:00 p.m. for a chance at redemption.
"It's a different game," Johnson said. "We just got to play hard and keep our heads up."