Colorado falls to No. 1 Arizona 69-57

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TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) - Colorado nearly pulled out a victory at Arizona’s McKale Center last season, coming within a disputed 3-pointer of beating the Wildcats.

The Buffaloes had little chance of a repeat performance after getting off to a slow start against the nation’s No. 1 team.

Colorado started flat and had no rhythm offensively until late, unable to overcome a big early deficit in a 69-57 loss to top-ranked Arizona on Thursday night.

“We were playing the No. 1 team in the nation, but they weren’t that good,” Xavier Johnson said. “We didn’t come in here with the (right) mindset and it’s hard coming into this atmosphere.”

Arizona (19-0, 6-0 Pac-12) had a week off after blowing out rival Arizona State and was still in a groove early, building a 14-point lead in the opening six minutes.

The big lead allowed the Wildcats some leeway in the second half when things didn’t go quite as well.

Arizona struggled from the perimeter, making 3 of 15 from 3-point range, had a rare night when it didn’t outrebound the opposition (32-32) and missed three free throws in the closing 72 seconds to keep the game from becoming a rout.

The Wildcats pulled it out thanks to the big start and 44 points in the paint, allowing them to tie - with the 1992-93 and 1997-98 teams - for the longest winning streak in school history.

Nick Johnson led Arizona with 18 points and Aaron Gordon added 12.

“This is why we love McKale; we feel like it’s like this all the time,” said Arizona forward Brandon Ashley, who had 15 points.

Colorado nearly beat the Wildcats at McKale Center last season, losing in overtime after the officials waved off Sabatino Chen’s banked-in 3-pointer at the buzzer in regulation.

The Buffaloes (15-5, 4-3) had no chance for late-game heroics in its third game without leading scorer Spencer Dinwiddie.

Colorado struggled to slow Arizona’s bevy of scorers and couldn’t shoot its way out of the big early hole, falling to 0-16 all-time against No. 1 teams.

Xavier Johnson led the Buffaloes with 21 points and Josh Scott added 15 with 11 rebounds.

“We dug ourselves a hole,” Colorado coach Tad Boyle said. “We had trouble scoring the ball and they made shots. We didn’t have an offensive rhythm all night.”

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