Preview: Arizona Wildcats face a tall task against underrated Colorado Buffaloes

Time: 4:00 p.m. MST

TV: FSAZ/KWBA

Both the Arizona Wildcats and Colorado Buffaloes stand at 4-2 in the Pac-12 Conference play, which is 1.5 games out of the lead held by the California Golden Bears.

So it goes without saying the 4:00 p.m. game today is more than Arizona's first visit to Boulder, Colo., and more than the Buffaloes first chance at beating the Wildcats as a member of the Pac-12.

It'll be a difficult task for the Wildcats. More well-known as a football school, Colorado's basketball program has quietly been on the rise, and it hasn't fallen as far as some might have expected following guard Alec Burks' decision to enter the NBA Draft after a killer 2010-11 season.

The Buffs are reloaded and led by guard Carlon Brown's 13.3 points. The senior is taking a team-leading 9.4 shots per game in his first season with CU after transferring from Utah, and expect Kyle Fogg to get the defensive assignment on him.

In the paint, sophomore forward Andre Roberson, at 6-foot-7, 195 pounds, could present a good match-up with Arizona forward Jesse Perry. Like the UA senior, Roberson is a double-double waiting to happen, and his 11.6 points and 11.3 rebounds per game will likely make the clash with Perry an entertaining one to watch.

From Arizona's perspective, sweeping the Pac-12 newbies on the road is a much-needed cure for their hiccups against teams like Oregon and UCLA.

With leading scorer and rebounder Solomon Hill not receiving any suspension following head coach Sean Miller's review of his elbow to the back of Utah guard Cedric Martin's head, will the Wildcats look as they did before Hill was ejected -- blank stares and with little energy? Or will they play with the same sense of urgency as they did following Hill's exit to the locker room?

The play certainly woke up Arizona as Kevin Parrom, Nick Johnson and crew broke out of slumps to lead to a lengthy second-half run to put the Utes away. And that leads to ...

Three keys for Arizona

  1. Play with the speed of the second half at Utah. The Wildcats pushed the pace in the second half of the Utah game, and much of it was thanks to Parrom and Johnson running it off of rebounds. Johnson, who had four first-half turnovers, didn't commit one in the second half. Meanwhile, Parrom looked like his form of last season when he was a key catalyst off the bench.
  2. Keep up the strong assist-to-turnover ratio. After a couple game of turnovers, the Wildcats nearly pulled off a game with a 2:1 assist-to-turnover ratio against Utah. Now, much of that was due to the passing of shooting guards and forwards (Kyle Fogg had six assists), but what we've yet to see from Jordin Mayes and Josiah Turner is a strong ratio in this regard. Arizona Republic beat reporter Doug Haller pointed out on Twitter than the point guard duo has 56 assists to 55 turnovers on the season.
  3. Don't let the altitude become a mental obstacle. Look, I realize there really is a physical aspect to playing in Boulder, and I've exercised in northern Arizona to know that elevation can mean a BIG difference. Miller's club will be tested no doubt, and it'll be interesting to see if there are any signs of fatigue for the Wildcats. The Buffs do go at least nine deep -- Arizona will be tired, but will they let it overcome them mentally?
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