Colorado's Pac-12 opener against the Arizona Wildcats gave them enough confidence. A home crowd behind them in Boulder and a likely stolen game from the Pac-12 officials to begin the conference schedule gave them enough to shove any Wildcat run aside.
Spencer Dinwiddie scored 21 and the Buffs rolled the Wildcats 71-58 as Sean Miller's club dropped its second game in a row. That attacking mentality Miller had beaten into his teams was far from there on Thursday. Because of it, Arizona paid.
There would be no late rallies in this one. Tad Boyle's team used impossibly difficult shooting and buzzer-beaters throughout the game to chip away at the Wildcats' legs. Thirty-five second defensive efforts often ended with Dinwiddie or freshman Xavier Johnson hitting shots at the end of the clock.
More times than not, those makes were three-pointers. CU hit 9-of-17 from deep and kept an unassertive Arizona team from doing much more than chucking shots and failing to attack. Arizona took only four free throws in the first half, 13 for the game and shot 42 percent. For the game, UA hit 5-of-19 three-pointers, or 26 percent.
The Wildcats had just one field goal and four points in the final 7:36 of the first half, as Colorado took a 30-23 lead into the locker room.
Colorado came out of the halftime break energetically, scoring eight straight points and forcing Miller into two quick timeouts. A flatfooted Arizona squad finally responded with a three-pointer each from Lyons and Johnson, but the defense suffered and gave up 59 percent shooting in the second period.
The Buffs scored 23 points in the first 10 minutes of the second half, 15 coming from Dinwiddie. He finished with seven assists on the night and combined with Xavier Johnson's 12 first-half points to bridge the gap of success from both periods.
Johnson ended with 19 for the night.
The lead reached as many as 14, and the Wildcats never even had the juice to make a run as the Buffaloes continued to pour it in.
Counting the issues
Solomon Hill struggles: Hill struggling to score isn't a big deal if other players are getting looks. But nobody on Thursday night was getting or taking anything. Nick Johnson took just five shots and Hill's team-leading 14 ended with only 12 points. The senior added seven boards and two blocks, and he defended Andre Roberson decently, but on a night he was forced to produce, he didn't hit enough of his shots to help out.
Struggling guard play: Mark Lyons finished with 11 points on 4-of-10 shooting to go with four assists and one turnover. He got two assists late by attacking the paint and drawing the defense, but in the first half he struggled with reading plays. In transition situations with CU's big men not back on defense, he often would jog up the court rather than push the ball up for a quick strike. Meanwhile, Johnson turned the ball over four times and wasn't aggressive enough when Arizona needed someone to attack.
Beaten by athleticism: Outside of Angelo Chol, who put in eight points and four rebounds, the plodding UA freshmen big men were outmatched by an athletic and springy Colorado front line. It was much like the athletic and lanky Oregon frontcourt. The trio combined for 14 points and nine boards.
Three-point defense: The issue supposedly fixed in the last few weeks came back to haunt the Wildcats. Yes, many of CU's shots were at the buzzer, and Arizona's length -- or lack thereof -- in the backcourt hurt it once again, but UA must find a way to get better contests on deep balls.