Colorado shoots for another upset against No. 14 Arizona (Jan 06, 2018)
One thing is certain about No. 14 Arizona's game against Colorado at Coors Event Center in Boulder, Colo., Saturday afternoon: The Buffaloes won't be intimidated.
Colorado will be feeling good about itself after beating No. 4 Arizona State 90-81 in overtime on Thursday night. And that came after Colorado (9-6, 1-2 in Pac-12) appeared to be reeling from three straight losses and defeats in six of its eight previous.
Soon after Arizona (12-3, 3-0) finished off Utah 94-82, the Wildcats found out Colorado had pulled the big upset.
Arizona is just 2-3 against the Buffaloes since Colorado joined the Pac-12 . The three losses came in Pac-12 play inside Coors Event Center are tied for the most Wildcats losses at any Pac-12 venue since 2011.
"It's tough," said Arizona's Rawle Alkins, who had 22 points in Arizona's win Thursday. "I think we just found out that ASU lost. So winning on the road is a hard thing. We got Colorado next so we know they're coming off a lot of confidence so we're just gonna have to play our best."
Arizona has confidence too, even though it hasn't played its best through much of its nine-game win streak.
Arizona has been aided by the return of Alkins, who will be playing in his sixth game since returning from a foot injury that kept him out since the beginning of the season.
More significant perhaps has been the play of freshman Deandre Ayton, a 7-foot-1 center/forward who had his 11th double-double (24 points, 14 rebounds) on Thursday. It was his fifth game with at least 20 points and 10 rebounds.
Meanwhile, guard Allonzo Trier, Arizona's leading scorer (20.3) who has become a gifted passer. He led Arizona in assists on Thursday with five.
Colorado coach Tad Boyle said despite the quick turnaround -- the teams play at noon on Saturday - his squad will be ready. His team has experience playing games with little rest time. The Buffaloes beat Quinnipiac and Drake on consecutive days in the Paradise Jam, then topped Mercer with just one day of rest after that.
"We're built for that," Boyle said of the quick turnaround. "We can turn around this thing quick. But we're not playing Drake or Mercer. We're playing Arizona, That's a little different animal. Still, a game plan is a game plan and we have to put it in and execute it. That presents a whole different challenge because Arizona comes with completely different problems than Arizona State does."
Boyle's young team will once again have to rely on its upper classmen -- seniors Dom Collier and George King and junior Namon Wright -- the ones who helped orchestrate the win against ASU on Thursday.
The Buffaloes also have McKinley Wright, a freshman who is averaging 16.2 points per game.
"McKinley (Wright) is unquestionably our engine," Boyle said. "Our guys feed off of him. I've been coaching for 30 years and I've never had a freshman have the role emotionally the way he does on this team. He commands their respect and they respect him. Usually it's the seniors that tell the freshmen what to do, but he is our engine, emotionally and mentally."