BOULDER, Colo. (AP) — Caleb Love scored 19 points, Pelle Larson had 18 and No. 8 Arizona pulled away in the second half to hand Colorado its first home loss of the season, 99-79 on Saturday night.
Oumar Ballo added 16 points and 13 rebounds, recording a double-double in his fourth straight game. Kylan Boswell scored 15 for Arizona (19-5, 10-3 Pac 12) in its fifth straight win. The Wildcats also ended a five-game losing streak at Colorado with their first win at the CU Events Center since 2015. “We came out here with a lot of energy, not to make any excuses about us playing three overtimes and, just kind of punched them in the mouth. And that’s what we did,” Love said.
Tristan da Silva and KJ Simpson had 20 points apiece to lead the Buffaloes (16-8, 7-6), who had entered with a 13-0 home record, the best stretch to start a season in the program’s history.
Leading by seven points at halftime, Arizona opened the second half with consecutive 3-pointers by Love and Keshad Johnson, starting an 18-5 run over a five-minute span that carried the Wildcats to a 65-45 lead. Colorado managed to cut it to 77-63 on a pair of free throws by J’Vonne Hadley with 7:48 to go but Love answered with a second-chance 3-pointer after an offensive rebound by Ballo, pushing Arizona’s lead back up to 17 points. “Earlier in the year we were struggling making that first push of the second half for whatever reason,” Arizona coach Tommy Lloyd said. “We couldn't quite pinpoint it. But today we made that first run run in the second half. We had a couple 3s right off the bat and then played some good defense. I think we won that segment by nine points, which is what championship teams do.”
Colorado trailed by double digits the rest of the way. “Sometimes, it’s necessary where you’ve just got to tip your cap to the other team,” Colorado coach Tad Boyle said. “I thought Arizona played great tonight. They deserved to win. They were the more aggressive team. They made shots and they were physical and we didn’t play well enough to win.” Arizona also forced Colorado to commit 16 turnovers, including 10 off steals and scored 23 points off the miscues. The Wildcats added 23 more points off second-chance shots. “I feel like we gave them too many buckets off turnovers, off second-chance points, especially on the glass,” da Silva said. “When you’re giving away possessions on offense and then on defense, if you don’t rebound, obviously their possession is not going to be over until you get that board.”
Ballo’s putback dunk had given Arizona an 11-point advantage late in the first half but Colorado got layups from Luke O’Brien and Simpson in the final minute of the period to pull the Buffaloes to 47-40 at the break.
Arizona: The Wildcats came through with a dominating performance in Colorado’s thin air despite their draining triple-overtime victory at Utah on Thursday night. Their shooting from 3-point range helped make the difference, going 10 for 22 from beyond the arc. Love led the way, converting 4 of 6 3s. Arizona also scored 23 points off turnovers in putting themselves in solid position for a strong finish as they gear up for the postseason.
Colorado: The Buffaloes had been especially sharp at home until running into the hot perimeter shooting of the Wildcats, who completed a two-game season sweep of Colorado. The Buffaloes simply could not keep up with Arizona’s 3-point shooting, going 5 for 17 from beyond the arc including 1 for 6 in the second half.
Arizona: Returns home to host intrastate rival Arizona State next Saturday night.
Colorado: Plays at UCLA on Thursday night.