After hosting Arizona for ESPN's College GameDay, the Wildcats' pressure and the lack of Colorado defense led to a rout and the Buffs' biggest loss of the season, 88-61. It was the first time that the Wildcats had won at the Coors Events Center in Boulder since 1973.
Said sophomore forward Josh Scott, "This is really disappointing. In the end, it's more disappointing for our seniors. We love those guys and we don't want to send them off that way so, I think that's the most disappointing part."
From the start, the Wildcats pressure was nearly impenetrable. They didn't allow the Buffs to score from the field at all for the first ten minutes of the game and were relentless from start to finish.
But Boyle attributes Saturday's loss to a number of factors.
"Our ball-screen defense was pathetic, we got no pressure on the ball, our rotations weren't where they needed to be, we didn't get screens," Boyle said.
The Wildcats outplayed the Buffaloes on every aspect of the court. Along with their intense defense, they outshot, out-rebounded, and out-assisted Colorado. For the game, Arizona had 38 rebounds to Colorado's 30 and 24 assists to Colorado's six.
"My hat goes off to Arizona," head coach Tad Boyle said. "They whipped us in every which way you can whip a team. Our fans and our seniors deserved better than they got tonight, and for that I'm truly sorry, I'm disappointed, I'm angry, you name it."
All night long, the Buffs struggled to get anything going on offense. They finished 17-52 from the field (32.7%), 2-10 from downtown (20.0%), but improved their free-throw shooting to 25-33 (75.8%).
Sophomore forward Josh Scott led the Buffs 18 points and eight rebounds, and was complemented by junior guard Askia Booker who added 10 points of his own.
The Wildcats, on the other hand, played phenomenally on offense. They finished the game shooting 35-58 from the field (60.3%), 8-17 from the three-point range (47.1%), and 10-19 from the line (52.6%).
Three Wildcats shined for Arizona on offense on Saturday night. Freshman superstar Aaron Gordon led the way with 23 points and was followed closely by Nick Johnson and Caleb Tarczewski who added 20 and 13 points respectively.
The first half got off to a bit of an ugly start for the Buffaloes after they went down by as much as 17 points when the clock read 10:11, 22-5. Arizona's defense wouldn't allow Colorado to score from the field at all until twenty seconds later, when freshman Jaron Hopkins sunk a three-pointer, 22-8.
Over the next five minutes, the Buffs kicked it into gear and outscored the Wildcats 13-4 to get within five, 26-21. For the remainder of the first, the Buffs managed to stay within single digits and finished out the half 31-25 with the Wildcats on top.
Throughout the first, the Buffs struggled on offense. They shot 6-27 from the field (22.2%), 1-6 from the three-point range (16.7%) and only made 12 of their 18 free throws (66.7%). Colorado's bench lit up to score 19 of their 25 points in the first half alone.
The Wildcats fared much better offensively, going 13-32 from the field (40.6%), 2-8 from behind the arc (25.0%), and went 3-10 from the line (30.0%).
Sophomore forward Josh Scott was a major factor in keeping the Buffs in the game in the first, leading the team with 10 points and six rebounds. On the other side of the ball, Nick Johnson led Arizona with nine points and three rebounds.
Although the Buffs managed to cut it close by the end of the first, they fell apart in the second half.
"We were giving up layup after layup and they hit some tough shots but I think we got ourselves back into the game," Booker said. "We cut it to six at the half and that's not a bad spot to be at half time. We just gave it away in the second half."
The Buffaloes started out the second half fairly strong by keeping within single digits of the Wildcats for the first five minutes, but then it went south quickly. After the score read 46-39 with 14:51 left on the clock, the Wildcats went on an 20-4 run to gain a 23-point lead on the Buffaloes with eight minutes to go, 66-43.
But things were about to get much worse for the Buffaloes. In the second half, the Wildcats only missed seven shots overall. They went 22-26 (84.6%) from the field and 6-9 from the three-point range.
Their offense was absolutely electric in the final 20 minutes of the game.
"They contested almost every shot and some defenses you can break down and get to the paint and kick it out but every time we kicked the ball out it seems like they were right on you," Booker said. "It's tough to get shots off when they're right there."
Before the buzzer sounded, the Buffs went down by as much as 30 points with 1:22 left in the game, 86-56. By the end of the game, the Buffs fell by their biggest margin of lost this season, 88-61.
Concerning Arizona's level of defense, Boyle said, "There's 11 other teams in the Pac-12 and then there's Arizona. It's not even close on the defensive end of the floor. Our frustrations on offense led to a dunk fest tonight."
The Buffaloes will travel to Utah next on Saturday, March 1 to take on the Utes at 12:00 p.m.
"Our fans were so ready for this game, for this win, and we gave them nothing," Boyle said. "That's a sick feeling to go home with and to live with. I haven't been embarrassed many times as a coach, but I was embarrassed tonight, at the way our team played."