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May 19, 2024

Arizona steamrolls Colorado 97-50 behind dominating defense

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Jan 5, 2024

The No. 10 Arizona Wildcats put on a defensive clinic Thursday night, dismantling the Colorado Buffaloes 97-50 at McKale Center in Tucson. The Wildcats held Colorado to just 28.3% shooting from the field while forcing 23 turnovers in their Pac-12 Conference opener.

Wildcats stifle Buffaloes offense

Arizona’s defense set the tone early, holding Colorado scoreless for over five minutes to start the game. The Wildcats quickly jumped out to a 13-0 lead and never looked back. Their suffocating defense made life miserable for the Buffaloes all night.

“Our defense was phenomenal tonight,” Arizona coach Tommy Lloyd said. “I think we wore them down with our pressure and athleticism. This is the kind of defensive effort I expect night in and night out.”

The Wildcats blocked 12 shots on the night, including 6 from center Oumar Ballo, while also tallying 13 steals. Their constant pressure disrupted Colorado’s offensive rhythm and forced them into plenty of rushed shots and turnovers. At one point in the first half, the Buffaloes had more turnovers (14) than points (11).

“We couldn’t get anything going on offense,” Colorado guard KJ Simpson said. “They were so quick to the ball and their length around the rim really affected us.”

Simpson scored 13 points but shot just 3-of-14 from the field. No Colorado player scored in double figures as Arizona’s defense locked down.

Ballo leads balanced Wildcats attack

While defense sparked Arizona’s domination, the offense did its part as well. Oumar Ballo scored a game-high 21 points on an efficient 8-of-10 shooting to lead four Wildcats in double figures.

“My teammates put me in great positions to score all night,” Ballo said. “It was just fun to be out there playing with so much energy on both ends of the court.”

Arizona shared the ball exceptionally well, dishing out 23 assists on 36 made field goals. Point guard Kerr Kriisa facilitated the offense with 10 assists while shooting an impressive 6-of-7 from 3-point range to finish with 20 points.

“When we move the ball like that, it’s hard to stop us,” Kriisa said. “We have so many weapons.”

Pelle Larsson provided a huge boost off the bench with 16 points, constantly attacking the basket against Colorado’s defense. The Wildcats shot 63.2% as a team and hit 14-of-24 shots from behind the arc in a sizzling offensive performance.

Arizona never trails in blowout victory

After jumping ahead 13-0 to start the game, Arizona maintained a comfortable double-digit lead for the entire contest. Their advantage ballooned to 29 points by halftime. The Wildcats’ largest lead reached 49 points midway through the second half.

Simpson finally hit a jumper with 9:44 left in the first half for Colorado’s first field goal after missing their first 12 shots. But Arizona quickly responded with a 9-0 run over the next two minutes to remove any building momentum for the Buffaloes. It exemplified the Wildcats’ dominance on the night.

“I loved how we never let up once we built that big lead,” Lloyd said. “We kept the intensity up for 40 minutes.”

Larsson scored 10 of his 16 points in the second half as Arizona’s bench maintained the huge lead while the starters got extended rest. The Wildcats continued applying full-court defensive pressure despite the lopsided score to prepare for upcoming Pac-12 games.

“It was good for some of our younger guys to play major minutes since we know every conference game will be a battle,” Lloyd said.

Key stats

Arizona Stat Colorado
63.2 FG percentage 28.3 FG percentage
14 3-pointers 3 3-pointers
23 assists 10 assists
13 steals 23 turnovers
12 blocks 2 blocks

Arizona looks to stay undefeated in Pac-12 play

At 13-1 overall, Arizona sits tied atop the Pac-12 standings after improving to 1-0 in conference games. Their next contest comes Saturday afternoon at home against Utah.

With their suffocating defense and wealth of offensive talent, the Wildcats established themselves as favorites to win the Pac-12 regular season title. After falling short in the Pac-12 Tournament last season, Arizona looks poised to return to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2018 behind third-year coach Tommy Lloyd.

“We have all the pieces to make a deep run this March,” Larsson said. “But we have to stay focused and take it one game at a time, especially in conference play.”

The schedule remains daunting, including two matchups apiece against UCLA and arch-rival Arizona State. But Arizona seems built to overcome any obstacle in their way with their balance and toughness at both ends of the court.

After steamrolling Colorado, the Wildcats served notice to the rest of the Pac-12. Thursday night showcased the terrifying potential of this Arizona team firing on all cylinders.

“I hope the other Pac-12 teams were watching tonight,” Lloyd said with a smile. “We plan on bringing that effort every single night.”

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AiBot scans breaking news and distills multiple news articles into a concise, easy-to-understand summary which reads just like a news story, saving users time while keeping them well-informed.

To err is human, but AI does it too. Whilst factual data is used in the production of these articles, the content is written entirely by AI. Double check any facts you intend to rely on with another source.

By AiBot

AiBot scans breaking news and distills multiple news articles into a concise, easy-to-understand summary which reads just like a news story, saving users time while keeping them well-informed.

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