BOULDER, Colo. (AP) - The Colorado Buffaloes didn’t make a basket for the game’s first 10 minutes, 10 seconds - and that was part of the “good” half of basketball they played against fourth-ranked Arizona.
The Buffaloes recovered from their slow start and trailed by just four points early in the second half before the red-hot Wildcats ran away with an 88-61 rout on Saturday night.
“This loss is on me,” Colorado coach Tad Boyle told what remained of the sellout crowd after Arizona’s first win in Boulder since 1973.
For a team that built its reputation on stifling defense, the Wildcats sure showed off some offensive prowess by making 22 of 26 shots after halftime - 84.6 percent.
“They whipped us tonight every which way you can whip a team,” Boyle said.
Freshman Aaron Gordon shook off a poor performance at Utah last week by scoring 21 of his season-best 23 points in the second half. Nick Johnson added 20 points for the Wildcats.
“We’ve had a few shootarounds here, we felt comfortable in their gym, it all just clicked for us,” Johnson said.
It was a rare breather for the Wildcats (25-2, 12-2 Pac-12), who scrapped their way through a series of close games since beating Colorado by 12 in Tucson, Ariz., on Jan. 23. A pair of close losses at Cal and archrival Arizona State dropped them from atop the college basketball standings.
After that first game in Tucson, Buffaloes forward Xavier Johnson dissed the ‘Cats, saying, “They’re not that good.” He also said that even without injured star Spencer Dinwiddie, the Buffaloes were the more talented team and he suggested the rematch in Boulder would be a blowout.
He was right, but it was the Wildcats who made this one a laugher, not the Buffaloes, who were throttled by Arizona’s suffocating defense and their hot shooting hands.
“I don’t think you have any of our players saying anything negative about Colorado, saying, ‘We’re going to win by 20,’” Arizona coach Sean Miller said. “We don’t do that. For us, we have to play the right way. We have to compete hard. And certainly we respect Colorado.”
Coming off an emotionally draining win over the Sun Devils on Wednesday night that burnished their NCAA tournament credentials, the Buffaloes (20-8, 9-6) came out ice cold, missing their first 14 shots.
They trailed 22-5 before Jaron Hopkins sank a 3-pointer from the left side 10 minutes, 10 seconds in the game.
That sparked a 16-4 run by Colorado - with seven points coming from the free throw line - to make it 26-21 and force an Arizona timeout. The Wildcats settled down thanks to a baseline drive by Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and a pull-up jumper by T.J. McConnell.
The only field goal by a Buffaloes starter before halftime came on Askia Booker’s jumper with 2 seconds left in the first half.