No time to rest as No. 8 Arizona visits dangerous Colorado
League: NCAA Basketball
Posted on: 09 Feb, 2024 at 05:50 PM
Credit: Zachary BonDurant-USA TODAY Sports
No. 8 Arizona will see how much it has left in the tank when it plays a dangerous Colorado team on Saturday night in Boulder, Colo.
The Wildcats (18-5, 9-3 Pac-12) are coming off a wild 105-99 triple-overtime victory at Utah on Thursday night, handing the Utes their first home loss of the season.
Now, Arizona will try to do the same to the Buffaloes (16-7, 7-5), who improved to 13-0 at home with their 82-70 win over Arizona State on Thursday.
Four Arizona players played at least 43 minutes against Utah, including 48 each from Caleb Love and Pelle Larsson, a senior who scored a career-high 27 points.
The Wildcats expended a lot of energy as the Utes roared back from a 16-point halftime deficit and took a late one-point lead in regulation. Arizona failed to convert final-possession shots from the field at the end of regulation and the first and second overtimes.
But with Larsson contributing six points in the third overtime, Arizona finally separated from Utah for its fourth consecutive victory.
"I think we're playing better basketball now," coach Tommy Lloyd said.
"I think that we're building. I think that all these experiences are accumulating. We're going into another place on Saturday where they haven't lost at home. They have really good players and a good coach. It's going to be tough. But we just need to dig down to see if we can find a way."
Expect this matchup to be much more competitive than the teams' first meeting on Jan. 4, and not just because of the venue.
Back then, the Buffaloes were without standouts Tristan da Silva and Cody Williams due to injury, and the Wildcats showed no mercy, rolling to a 50-23 halftime lead and pouring it on for a 97-50 victory.
Both players are back to help Colorado get some revenge in Boulder, where the Buffs have won five consecutive games against Arizona.
Williams, one of the top freshmen in the country and being mentioned as a potential high pick in the 2024 NBA Draft, averages 14.4 points per game. da Silva is second on the team in scoring at 15.3 points. KJ Simpson is making a bid for Pac-12 Player of the Year honors with a 19.4 scoring average and a 44.7 3-point shooting percentage (42 of 94).
Williams, who missed five weeks earlier in the season due to a wrist injury, returned to the starting lineup in Thursday night's win over Arizona State after sitting out last week's game against Utah.
"Everybody thinks when you come back, hey, you're 100 percent," Colorado coach Tad Boyle said.
"Sometimes it takes a while, especially for freshmen like Cody who's had a start, stop, start, stop kind of year. It's difficult. ... I think we're going to need him on Saturday. He's an important part of this team. He gives us size on the wing."
Love leads Arizona at 18.9 points per game and is the shot-taker the Wildcats look to late in games. Larsson averages 13.2 points. Oumar Ballo, a 7-footer who played 45 minutes on Thursday night, has five double-doubles in the past eight games.
--Field Level Media