It’s a battle of Pac-12 programs on the college hardwood down in the Valley of the Sun. The #20 Colorado Buffaloes are on the road as they face the Arizona Wildcats Saturday afternoon. Colorado downed Arizona State 68-61 on the road Thursday night in their previous contest. Arizona rolled to a 93-77 win at home over Utah Thursday night in their last game. The Wildcats own a 19-14 edge in the all-time series between the teams but it was the Buffaloes taking a 67-60 home win in the most recent matchup on February 17, 2019.
Colorado Buffaloes Looking for Sweep in the DesertColorado won their second straight and their seventh in the last eight games as they took care of business against Arizona State Thursday night. The Buffaloes are 3-1 in the Pac-12, leaving them behind only Stanford in conference play at this point of the season. Colorado has a couple of big wins on the ledger, knocking off Oregon and Dayton at home. They have no bad losses to speak of at this stage of the game as they fell at Kansas in addition to home defeats to Oregon State and Northern Iowa. The win over the Sun Devils was another solid one to put in the books.
Honor The Past ✊ pic.twitter.com/3nfDx4xT62— Colorado Men's Basketball (@CUBuffsMBB) January 12, 2020
The Buffaloes come into this game 156th in scoring offense as they put up 72.6 points per game this year. Colorado stands 87th in rebounding by collecting 38.8 boards a night while ranking 173rd in assists by dishing out 13.7 dimes a game. The Buffaloes are a stellar 28th in scoring defense as they allow only 61.2 points per game on the year. Tyler Bey is second on the team with 13.4 points and 9.6 rebounds per contest. McKinley Wright IV contributes 13.4 points, 5.4 rebounds plus five assists per game while D’Shawn Schwartz puts up 10.6 points a night. Evan Battey, Lucas Siewert, Shane Gatling and Daylen Kountz each average better than four points a night for coach Tad Boyle. Colorado shoots 43.8 percent from the floor as a team on the year. The Buffaloes splash an average of 7.5 three-pointers a night while shooting 36.6 percent from beyond the arc. Colorado has been decent at the free throw line as they shoot 73.4 percent at the stripe on the season.
According to KenPom.com, the Buffaloes’ defense has done a spectacular job to this point in the season. Colorado is 17th in the nation in defensive efficiency, 29th in effective field goal percentage defense (44.5 percent) and 81st in three-point field goal percentage defense (30.9 percent) this year. In addition, the Buffaloes are 70th in turnover percentage (21.5 percent), 27th in offensive rebounding percentage allowed (23.5 percent) and 30th in two-point field goal percentage defense (43.6 percent) on the year. Colorado is going to need that defense to hang in here.
Arizona Wildcats Hope to Put Something TogetherArizona started the year on a roll but hit a speed bump recently. The Wildcats hope that their win over Utah Thursday can help steer them back in the right direction. Arizona opened the year with nine straight wins but hit the skids after that. The Wildcats had dropped five of seven games before beating the Utes to even their conference mark at 2-2 on the year. Arizona faced quality foes and hung tough as they fell by five at Baylor, by four at home to Gonzaga, by three on a neutral floor against St. John’s and by one in overtime at Oregon before losing by 17 to Oregon State on the road. Returning home provided a much-needed win but they’ll need more of those as the season winds on.
The Wildcats average 82 points per game this season, putting them tied for 11th in the nation in scoring offense. Arizona grabs 37.5 rebounds per contest while they are tied for 14th in the nation by handing out 17 assists per contest. The Wildcats have been good on the defensive end of the floor as they are 111th in the nation by allowing 66.4 points a night. Zeke Nnaji puts up 16.9 points plus 8.5 rebounds per contest on the year. Nico Mannion (14.1 points, 6.2 assists) and Josh Green (12.7 points) each average in double figures for Arizona. The Wildcats also rely on Jemarl Baker Jr., Max Hazzard, Stone Gettings, Devonaire Doutrive, Dylan Smith, Chase Jeter and Ira Lee to contribute in the rotation for Sean Miller. Arizona shoots 48.3 percent from the field as a team this season. The Wildcats connect on 8.6 three pointers a night while shooting 38.1 percent from beyond the arc. Arizona has been decent at the free throw line as they sink 73.6 percent of their chances this season.
The Wildcats are explosive offensively according to KenPom.com and that has been the team’s calling card this season. Arizona is ninth in the nation in offensive efficiency this season. In addition, the Wildcats are 19th in the nation in effective field goal percentage (54.6 percent), stands 21st in three-point percentage and 48th in two-point field goals percentage this season. Arizona doesn’t beat themselves as they rank seventh in the nation in having the ball stolen on just 6.3 percent of their possessions.
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