Photo Courtesy of University of Arizona Athletics
No. 14 Arizona saw its nine-game winning streak come to an end Saturday at Colorado.
Originally published Saturday, January 6, 2018 at 12:00p.m.
BOULDER, Colo. (AP) – McKinley Wright IV didn't even realize it was his coach's birthday Saturday. Still, he gave him the perfect gift – another big win.
Wright scored 16 points to lead five Colorado players in double figures, and the Buffaloes held off No. 14 Arizona 80-77 to end the Wildcats' nine-game winning streak.
It's the second straight game in which the Buffaloes (10-6, 2-2 Pac-12) have knocked off a ranked team. They defeated No. 4 Arizona State 90-81 in overtime Thursday. The Buffaloes are now 17-29 against ranked teams under coach Tad Boyle, who celebrated his 55th birthday in grand fashion.
"I'm glad we could do this for him today," Wright said. "It's a great birthday present for him."
It's the first time Colorado has beaten ranked teams in back-to-back games since 2011.
Colorado went up by 20 in the first half only to see the Wildcats (12-4, 2-1) pull within three. Dominique Collier came up big down the stretch with one big shot after another. Dallas Walton finished with a career-high 15 points on 7-for-7 shooting as the Buffaloes overcame 13 turnovers in the second half.
Wright all but sealed the win with a steal and a dunk with 1:01 remaining. Colorado made six straight free throws over the final 40 seconds as fans celebrated on the court for a second straight game after the final buzzer.
"It's crazy," said Wright, Colorado's point guard who also had with 10 assists, four rebounds and seven turnovers. "Nobody expected us to win this except the guys in our locker room and our fans. Probably all of our fans didn't believe we could do this. All that matters is that we believe. We don't care what none of the outsiders think. We're trying to prove people wrong."
Deandre Ayton scored 21 of his 26 points in the second half for the Wildcats. Arizona's leading scorer, Allonzo Trier, was held to eight. The 1-2 scoring punch was averaging a combined 40.3 points before Saturday.
"You always want your team to play for you as the coach and our guys, they really struggled playing for me — they really do," Arizona coach Sean Miller said. "I can't get them to play hard. We do it for a while. I know we've had a win streak.
"With our team, it's really hard to get our guys to run as fast as they can. That's not them. That's me. I have a hard time reaching our guys."
Arizona: The Wildcats never recovered from a sluggish start in a game they never led. They shot 30 percent in the first half.
Colorado: The Buffaloes shook things up in the Pac-12 with two big home wins.
This & That
Arizona C Dusan Ristic had 13 points and 11 rebounds. ... Colorado senior George King had five points and 11 rebounds. ... Arizona fell to 3-9 all-time in Boulder.
Boyle took a little extra satisfaction in beating Arizona given a federal recruiting probe that has cast a dark shadow over the Wildcats program.
"Absolutely. Absolutely there is," Boyle said. "I've got great respect for Sean Miller and the kind of coach he is. They recruit very, very well. ... Hell yes, there's extra satisfaction."
The Big Boys
Walton took it as a challenge going up against Ristic and Ayton, two of the best big men around.
"I can't describe in words how fired up I was," Walton said. "I mean, the opportunity to go against two pros is something you don't get to say every day."
A Little Clash
Things got a little heated late in the first half when Keanu Pinder and Collier got tangled up underneath the basket. They glared at each other as players from both teams stepped in. The officials went to the monitor and assessed a technical foul on Colorado's Tyler Bey and Arizon's Ira Lee.
Trier had the shot of the game, on a falling-to-the-ground layup with 12:17 remaining that made it 49-46. It's as close as the Wildcats would come until Ayton hit a jumper with a second remaining.
"We had a great second half making a push, but when you dig yourself that deep of a hole, it's really hard to come back and actually win the game," Trier said.
Arizona: Host Oregon State on Thursday.
Colorado: At USC on Wednesday.