TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) - On offense and defense, Arizona’s Kadeem Allen was the difference in the No. 17 Wildcats’ 82-73 victory over Colorado on Saturday night.
“Tonight was about Kadeem Allen,” Arizona coach Sean Miller said. “He was an amazing player. That was one of the best games I’ve seen a guard play since I’ve been at Arizona.”
The senior scored a career-high 18 points, including 3-of-3 shooting from 3-point range, and turned in a strong defensive performance against Colorado’s Derrick White, who had 35 points two nights earlier in the Buffaloes’ one-point loss at Arizona State.
White scored seven points on 3-of-7 shooting against Arizona.
Allen, meanwhile, made nine of 11 free throws, grabbed five rebounds and had four assists with no turnovers in 32 minutes.
“He was the best player on the court and to me he was the biggest story on our side,” Miller said. “Some guys did a good job, but from start to finish he was the constant.”
Allen said the increased scoring is all due to confidence.
“I just came out and when I shot my first two 3s, I just knew I was going to have a good night,” he said.
Lauri Markkanen scored 22 points, shooting 4 of 5 on 3s, and Dusan Ristic added 17 for the Wildcats (15-2, 4-0 Pac-12), who led by 20 points early in the second half before the Buffaloes (10-6, 0-3) rallied to cut it to five late.
Xavier Johnson, ejected Thursday night in the first half of Colorado’s 78-77 loss at Arizona State, led the Buffaloes with 26 points, one shy of his career high. Wesley Gordon added 16.
George King had 12 points and 11 rebounds for the Buffaloes, who outrebounded the bigger Wildcats 38-32.
“We lost this game in two areas,” Colorado coach Tad Boyle said. “We lost the game at the free throw line and by not taking care of the basketball. They got 24 points off our 15 turnovers. That’s too many, especially in this building. They shot 33 free throws to our 14.”
Arizona opened the second half with a 10-2 run to lead 59-39 after Kobi Simmons’ 12-footer.
Colorado, however, climbed back into it. Arizona went 4 1/2 minutes without a field goal and the Buffaloes used a 13-2 spurt to cut it to 69-64 on King’s rebound basket with three minutes to go.
Colorado was down 71-66 after Johnson’s jumper with 2:23 left, but Ristic scored inside and Parker Jackson-Cartwright sank an 18-footer to lift the Wildcats out of trouble.
Colorado jumped out to a 10-1 lead and was up 18-10 when Gordon scored on a rebound basket, but the Buffaloes went cold and Arizona was off on a 19-2 run, capped by Allen’s two free throws that put the Wildcats up 29-20 with 5:03 left in the first half.
Another 10-0 outburst gave Arizona its biggest lead of the half, 39-24, when Ristic grabbed a rebound and scored on a short hook shot with 1:24 to play. Johnson sank a 3-pointer just before the halftime buzzer to slice Arizona’s lead to 39-27 at the break.
Colorado scored 46 points in the second half and became the first team to top 70 against the Wildcats this season.
STILL NO TRIER
Allonzo Trier had his familiar spot sitting in University of Arizona sweats on the Wildcats’ bench.
There had been speculation that Trier, who has not played all season, would be able to suit up and play Saturday night because it was the start of the second half of Arizona’s regular season.
The thinking went that whatever NCAA punishment Trier is receiving for whatever offense - no one is talking - would cover half a season.
Trier, a member of the Pac-12 all-freshman team last season, went through rigorous warmups before the game but was in sweat pants when it began, leading someone to start a Twitter account @triersweatpants.
Colorado: After a competitive but winless trip to Arizona, the Buffaloes finally get to play a Pac-12 home game - and it’s against No. 4 UCLA.
Arizona: The Wildcats blew most of a big lead but held on and are tied with Oregon atop the Pac-12 standings. “And that’s all that matters,” Allen said.
Colorado: The Buffaloes play their conference home opener Thursday night against the Bruins.
Arizona: The Wildcats have one game next week, at home against rival Arizona State on Thursday night.
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