Arizona shoots past CU defense to top Buffs in Tucson

With a veteran Colorado rotation going up against an Arizona squad comprised largely of youngsters and veterans, and with the Buffaloes relieved of the burden of playing in front of over 10,000 screaming Wildcats fans, there was a sense the time was right for the Buffs to pick up their elusive first win in Tucson in Pac-12 Conference play.

That win will have to wait for another day.

Unable to continue their offensive momentum after a torrid first half, and unable to contain Arizona’s James Akinjo, CU opened Pac-12 play with an 88-74 defeat against the Wildcats on Monday night. The defeat dropped the Buffs to 0-9 at UA’s McKale Center since joining the Pac-12. The loss also ended a four-game losing streak for CU, which continues a challenging opening week of league play this week at USC and UCLA.

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Arizona took a 50-44 lead at halftime after capping a wildly entertaining first half by scoring the final six points of the period in the final 35 seconds. Arizona guard Terrell Brown recorded a 3-point play and, after a missed jumper by CU’s Keeshawn Barthelemy, Akinjo raced down the floor for a buzzer-beating, pull-up  3-pointer that gave the Wildcats a six-point lead at the break.

Both teams shot over 50 percent over the first 20 minutes, with CU going 16-for-31 in the first half (.516) but still getting topped by Arizona’s .554 mark (19-for-34). The teams shot a combined 12-for-24 on 3-pointers in the first half while combining for just seven turnovers — three of which were committed by CU during the final three and a half minutes of the half.

After the offensive fireworks in the first half, neither team managed a field goal for nearly three minutes after halftime. Arizona took control with a 10-2 run early in the second half, eventually building a 13-point lead with seven minutes remaining.

The Buffs shot just .333 (8-for-24) after halftime while Arizona continued its hot shooting, finishing .526 overall while going 8-for-17 on 3-pointers. On the day he was named Pac-12 Player of the Week for the fourth time in his career, CU point guard McKinley Wright was held to 10 points on a 4-for-12 night. More ominously for the Buffs, Wright exited the game with 58.1 seconds remaining after suffering an apparent lower right leg injury.

CU forward Evan Battey led the Buffs with 18 points while going 5-for-7 from the floor, but his minutes were limited after halftime due to foul trouble.

Akinjo made his first five 3-point attempts before finishing with 21 points and eight assists for Arizona.

Arizona 88, Colorado 74

COLORADO (6-1, 0-1 Pac-12)

Battey 5-8 7-8 18, Walton 1-3 3-4 5, Parquet 1-3 2-2 5, Wright 4-12 2-3 10, Schwartz 3-10 0-0 9, Horne 3-6 0-0 7, Daniels 4-6 0-0 12, Barthelemy 0-3 0-0 0, Walker 3-4 0-0 8. Totals 24-55 14-17 74.

ARIZONA (6-1, 1-1 Pac-12iz)

J.Brown 4-6 2-4 10, A.Tubelis 3-8 3-5 9, Akinjo 5-11 7-8 22, Baker 4-11 5-7 14, Terry 2-3 0-0 5, T.Brown 4-5 3-3 12, Koloko 5-7 0-0 10, Lee 3-3 0-0 6, Mathurin 0-3 0-0 0. Totals 30-57 20-27 88.

Halftime – Arizona 50-44. 3-Point Goals_Colorado 12-26 (Daniels 4-6, Schwartz 3-5, Walker 2-3, Battey 1-2, Parquet 1-2, Horne 1-3, Barthelemy 0-1, Walton 0-1, Wright 0-3), Arizona 8-17 (Akinjo 5-7, T.Brown 1-1, Terry 1-2, Baker 1-4, A.Tubelis 0-1, Mathurin 0-2). Rebounds – Colorado 28 (Horne 8), Arizona 29 (Koloko 8). Assists – Colorado 14 (Wright 4), Arizona 20 (Akinjo 8). Total Fouls – Colorado 22, Arizona

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