Arizona impressed the entire country with 12 weeks of undefeated play to start the season, but February has been a different story.
With two losses since the beginning of the month, the rest of the Pac-12 no longer seems to be intimidated, and a rejuvenated Colorado team will get a shot at dealing further doubt to the fourth-ranked Wildcats' conference title plans Saturday night in Boulder.
Arizona (24-2, 11-2) narrowly retained its one-game lead over UCLA on Wednesday with a 67-63 overtime win at Utah.
"Playing on the road is hard, especially on the road in this conference because you never go and do one," coach Sean Miller said. "Unless it's (Arizona State), you do both, so you're out here for four or five days. That doesn't mean we're going to play well against Colorado, but ... it feels good to win this, and hopefully we can go up there on Saturday and play at our best."
Colorado (20-7, 9-5) lost four of five when Spencer Dinwiddie went down on Jan. 12 with a torn ACL, but it seems to have figured out how to play without its top scorer, winning five of six since the bottom seemingly fell out.
"A month ago when Spencer ... went down there was some worry and some non-belief, but our guys have gotten it back and I'm awful proud," coach Tad Boyle told the school's official website.
This will be the Buffaloes' final game in Boulder before concluding the Pac-12 regular season with three on the road.
On Wednesday, they climbed into third in the conference with a 61-52 home win over Arizona State, the team that last knocked off Arizona. There's no telling where the Buffaloes would be with Dinwiddie, but they aren't interested in slowing down to consider.
"I won't let myself think about what might have been with Spencer, but there's a lot of basketball to be played and we can win a lot of games down the stretch with this team," Boyle said. "And they know it. I think our fans are starting to understand that. And that's what building a program is all about. You've got to be bigger than one player or one person."
Askia Booker scored 18 against the Sun Devils while Josh Scott had 13 points and 13 rebounds. Booker is averaging 17.1 points since his backcourt mate went down while Scott has averaged 15.7.
The win came after Arizona State beat Colorado 72-51 in Tempe on Jan. 25.
"We had just lost Spencer and we were trying to find our mojo and you know, we were just discombobulated," Booker said. "But now I think we're back on our feet."
That game followed a 69-57 loss at then-No. 1 Arizona, Colorado's third defeat in four games against the Wildcats since the start of last season. Colorado's Xavier Johnson led everyone with 21 points, but Arizona jumped out a 15-point halftime lead.
"We had a great first half against Colorado," reserve guard Elliott Pitts recalled. "They came back in the second half. I know if we just put both halves together, it'll be a good game for us."
Arizona's win at Utah was its second straight overtime game after falling 69-66 in double OT at Arizona State on Feb. 14. Nick Johnson and Gabe York each scored 15 as the Wildcats dropped the Runnin' Utes to 16-2 at home.
They'll try to do the same to the Buffaloes, who are 16-1 on their own floor.
"We've been in so many of these," Miller said of his team's close games, which haven't come without injury issues.
Brandon Ashley (11.5 points per game), who scored 15 the last time out against Colorado, sustained a season-ending foot injury Feb. 1. at Cal, the loss that ended Arizona's 21-0 start.
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