Cats must regroup after ugly loss in Colorado

There was little to no offense and, well, little to no defense.

So, of course, there was no victory for No. 9 Arizona in Boulder, Colo., on Thursday night. In fact, getting win No. 21 has proved to be very difficult.

“No question we got their best shot,” coach Sean Miller said of host Colorado after Arizona’s 71-58 loss in front of a standing-room-only crowd that, when it was all over, stormed the court in celebration.

Colorado’s best shot meant Arizona had little to no shot. It started early, as UA went just 1 of 10 from beyond the 3-point line in the first half. The Cats finished 5 for 19 from beyond the arc and shot 42 percent from the floor.

And with that, Arizona is now 20-4 overall and has lost two consecutive games — also dropping a home game against Cal last weekend — for the first time this season. Colorado (17-7 overall, 7-5 Pac-12) has win six of its last seven games.

“You gotta make a shot,” Miller said on his postgame radio show. “Our shooting has really (hurt) us for some time … (need) to shoot the ball better.”

But first, Miller said there is a bigger issue that must be addressed. It’s his team’s defense.

Colorado shot 50 percent for the game (25 for 50), including 59 percent in the second half. Spencer Dinwiddie scored a game-high 21 points, and Xavier Johnson, perhaps the Pac-12’s best freshman, according to Miller, had 19 points.

Arizona got 12 points from Solomon Hill and 11 from Mark Lyons, but no other player scored in double figures.

And that performance, Miller said, came after three days of good practices and strong focus. It just didn’t translate Thursday night.

How bad was it? Arizona scored just one basket in the final seven and a half minutes
of the first half and went scoreless for nearly seven of those minutes.

The Wildcats added to their misery in the second half. Or at least the first
few minutes, when the Buffaloes opened with an 8-0 run and took their biggest
lead of the game to that point at 38-23. It was such a bad stretch that Miller
called two timeouts in the first 2 minutes, 10 seconds.

Arizona did make a mid-game run, cutting Colorado’s double-digit lead — it was as large as 15 points a couple times — to 45-39 with less than 10 minutes left.

“When we had it to six, there was plenty of time,” Miller said. “(But) they answered the bell with back-to-back 3s. Credit them. If you get a good shot or a shot and can knock it down, it changes the game.

“Once they extended (the lead) to 15 again, although we kept fighting, it was their game.”

Now, the Wildcats must figure out how to get back to their game and get back to the top of the Pac-12.

At the moment, Arizona is back in second place, tied with UCLA at 8-4. Oregon is alone in first at 9-3.

The Cats will have three days to figure things out; they don’t play again until Sunday, when they visit Utah.

“When you lose the first one, you can’t let the first game affect the next one,” Miller said. “Defensively, we have to get on it. The way Utah plays, they mix their defense, so we have to knock shots down and make sure we take good ones.”

NOTES

One bright spot was sophomore forward Angelo Chol, who had eight points and four rebounds in 20 minutes. Miller said Chol’s progress started a couple of weeks ago in practice.

“He gave us some good minutes,” Miller said. “It’s really good to see him have the confidence that he has.”