Colorado was well aware that it was walking into a road game environment as the MGM Grand Garden Arena was filled to the rafters with Arizona red. The first half certainly looked like a McKale Center performance for Arizona, as it completely dominated the first 20 minutes.
Colorado shot poorly when it had good looks but Arizona didn't allow it to have many of those. The Wildcats' rim-protection was phenomenal as seemingly every Wildcat on the floor got in on the block party. Even Parker Jackson-Cartwright was credited with a block. At the other end, 11 first half points from Gabe York and solid all-around shooting from deep got the Wildcats out to a 21-point lead. They would head into the tunnel listening to loud "U of A" chants, up 37-20. The fewest amount of points Arizona had allowed in a half all season.
During Sean Miller's interview right as the first half ended, he reminded everyone that Arizona has been an inconsistent team all year. That, even though, Arizona played great basketball in the first half, it didn't mean that Arizona would look that way in the second half, based on how it has played all year.
"We're a one half team," Miller said.
And unfortunately for Wildcat fans, Sean Miller was right.
The second half was a different story for the Buffaloes. They still had a lot of trouble hitting shots but they crashed the offensive glass and forced themselves back in the game with second-chance points -- the Buffs' calling card all year long. Colorado would finish with an outlandish 26 offensive rebounds and 52 rebounds overall. Arizona was the best rebounding team in the Pac-12 all season but ended up -17 in the rebound department against Colorado.
The Buffaloes gave Arizona their best shot in the second half but couldn't seem to get the deficit into single-digits. Excellent offensive play by Allonzo Trier and a great performance from the free throw line by Ryan Anderson held Colorado at bay. But the Wildcats could only do that so long. Colorado cracked the Wildcats' foundation in the final six minutes of the game, forcing the Wildcats to shoot nothing but free throws while the Buffaloes traded those for three pointers and easy second chance points at the other end.
At the end of the day, the hole Arizona put Colorado in early in the game was too much as the Buffs' comeback fell short.
Arizona avenges their loss from a few weeks ago to Colorado and tomorrow night, it has a chance to avenge another painful loss. The Pac-12 regular season champion Oregon Ducks are looming after a hard-fought victory over the Washington Huskies earlier today. Arizona and Oregon met once this year as the Ducks gave the Wildcats their lone home loss, ending Arizona's unprecedented 49-game winning streak at McKale Center.
If today is any indication, tomorrow's crowd could look a lot like that McKale Center crowd did a month and a half ago. While it may feel like a road game for the Ducks, the Wildcats know first-hand that Oregon will come prepared no matter what.