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Colorado vs. Arizona: Buffs lose in overtime after nixed buzzer-beater

The Arizona Wildcats rally to inexplicably defeat Colorado after a Buffs' buzzer-beater was waved off.

Casey Sapio-USA TODAY Sports

Let's start with what we know.

The Colorado Buffaloes led for nearly the entirety of the Pac-12 opener in McKale Center against the Arizona Wildcats.

Mark Lyons tied the game at 80 apiece with nine seconds left. Sabatino Chen, already having a career night, appeared to have banked in a three-pointer off the glass, at the buzzer, to win 83-80. The officials waved it off, the game went to overtime, and the Wildcats (13-0) some how, some way, rallied to beat CU, 92-83, on Thursday to remain perfect on the year.

The officiating was nothing perfect -- not even close. Here's what's up in the air.

[Related: More on the officials' call, including referee reaction and how Miller's teams often get the benefit of the doubt]

Nick Johnson stole the ball with 1:20 in the game and had a clear path to the bucket; Andre Roberson fouled him by grabbing his non-dribbling hand, but no intentional foul was called. Later, Lyons was called for a foul on Colorado's Spencer Dinwiddie after it appeared the Buffs point guard fell down against pressure defense, and Dinwiddie hit one of two foul shots. Then came the kicker.


Now, if there's a side angle, it might've been hard to see. ESPN showed a replay, but their replay clock wasn't synced correctly with the actual clock (see this picture, and take a look at the actual clock and then ESPN's in the bottom right corner).

This looked inconclusive, too close to call. This might be the best bet.

But let's just go back to what we know -- for sure.

Colorado very well could have won, yet they allowed the cardiac 'Cats to once again show their resolve.

Colorado wilted. The facts back that up.

The Buffs led 73-63 with 3:20 to go but had three turnovers and five missed free throws thereafter as Arizona's press, like it did against the Florida Gators, created opportunities for the first time in the game.

Colorado shot 59 percent from the foul line, missing 12 foul shots.

Senior leaders Lyons and Solomon Hill combined for 24 points of Arizona's final 29 in the final nine minutes of the game after they had struggled with turnovers, foul trouble and contributed to poor transition defense. Lyons finished with 24 points, Hill with 15 and they didn't turn the ball over for the most part down the stretch, yet finished with eight combined.

The fact of the matter is the Buffs played out of their minds throughout. Chen scored a career-high 15, the Buffs hit 10-of-15 three-pointers before missing their final six -- all were in overtime as they appeared overwhemed -- and the Wildcats walked off with a victory despite their worst performance yet.

Arizona shot 43 percent, including a 26 percent first half in which they trailed only 34-27. They doubled up CU on the offensive glass, got the three best players in foul trouble and somehow came out with a victory.

And despite the slow start, Colorado came out of halftime (still) stomping on Arizona's throats.

The Wildcats looked lazy and tired after nine days off. Johnson struggled by hitting 2-of-11 shots which didn't go well with Lyons' 6-of-16 field goals made.

About the only consistent player was Arizona's Kevin Parrom, who had 16 points, eight rebounds, two assists, three steals and all of the energy he's brought off the bench this season. He was playing down the stretch with Hill and Grant Jerrett in the paint as Sean Miller finally relented, going with a small-ball group that has effectively caused havoc late in games on both ends, but especially on defense.

Jerrett scored 10 himself, looking more engaged and less of a defensive liability than any of the other big men.

On a grander scale, the Wildcats showed many flaws.

But on a night of many, many flaws that were more about circumstance than any strategy, Arizona remains flawless in the win column. Whether that's right or wrong after Chen's shot, we're still waiting for the Wildcats to have enough breakdowns to lose.