- Associated Press - Saturday, March 15, 2014

LAS VEGAS (AP) - Colorado had seen Arizona’s defense at work before, in person and in the Pac-12 tournament quarterfinals.

Even knowing what was coming, the Buffaloes didn’t stand much of a chance.

Unable to match Arizona after a close first half, Colorado lost to the fourth-ranked Wildcats 63-43 in the Pac-12 semifinals on Friday night.

“We knew they were good defensively and we knew we were going to have to make some shots to beat them. We couldn’t get going,” Colorado coach Tad Boyle said. “Their defense had something to do with that. Our offense had something to do with that.”

Arizona (30-3) crushed Utah in its tournament opener behind a record-setting defensive show.

The Wildcats didn’t peel open the record book against Colorado, but they sure gave the Buffaloes fits.

Unlike its previous win over Colorado, Arizona started slow, allowing the Buffaloes to keep it close at halftime.

Once they got rolling, Colorado had no answer for the Wildcats’ defensive pressure and string of highlight-reel plays that had MGM Grand Garden Arena feeling like McKale Center West.

Arizona shot 60 percent in the second half and held Colorado (23-11) to 5-of-22 shooting in the final 20 minutes to earn a spot Saturday’s championship game against UCLA or Stanford.

Nick Johnson scored 16 points, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson added 12 and eight rebounds for Arizona. T.J. McConnell facilitated the Wildcats’ offense and spearheaded the top of the D, finishing with 12 points, five assists and four rebounds

“Our defense became great in the second half, but our offense found its flow,” Arizona coach Sean Miller said. “We shared the ball. We were more ourselves. It was that combination that really broke the game open.”

Colorado was able to hang with Arizona behind its defense in the first half.

But playing their third game in as many days took its toll on the Buffaloes in the second half and they had no pushback when the Wildcats started to race away.

Askia Booker had 20 points to lead Colorado, which shot 29 percent overall and was outrebounded 41-25.

Now the Buffaloes have a two-day wait to see if the NCAA tournament selection committee deems them worthy of the bracket.

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