- Associated Press - Saturday, March 15, 2014

LAS VEGAS (AP) - Aaron Gordon slid across the lane, sprang off the floor and blocked Xavier Johnson’s one-handed dunk at the top of its arc.

No chance.

Now that one of the nation’s best defenses is reaching its peak, it’s hard to imagine anyone having much of a chance against No. 4 Arizona.

Arizona backed up a strong opening performance in the Pac-12 tournament with another defensive gem, turning a close game into a second straight rout, 63-43 over Colorado Friday night to earn a spot in the title game.


“If Arizona makes shots and the way they guard consistently, they’ve got a chance to win a national championship,” Colorado coach Tad Boyle said.

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 Stanford, which beat UCLA 84-59 in the second semifinal.

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.

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