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Colorado vs. Arizona final score: Kadeem Allen scores career-high 18 points as Wildcats hold off Buffaloes

Arizona held a 20-point lead at one point, but the Buffaloes made it close at the end.

NCAA Basketball: Colorado at Arizona Casey Sapio-USA TODAY Sports

It’s a 4-0 start to Pac-12 play for the No. 17 Arizona Wildcats as they defeated the Colorado Buffaloes 82-73 in McKale Center on Saturday night.

It’s the Wildcats’ ninth win in a row and their 15th-straight victory at home, improving their record to 15-2 on the season.

Kadeem Allen poured in a career-high 18 points on six shots, while Lauri Markkanen led the Wildcats with 22 points on 12 shots, and Dusan Ristic added 17 points and a team-high eight rebounds.

Arizona held a 49-29 lead with 16 minutes left to play, but committed nine second half turnovers, allowing Colorado to get back in the game.

The Buffaloes were able to cut their deficit to 63-51 after hitting six of seven shots during one stretch, and to 67-60 after a 3 by Wesley Gordon with 4:27 left to play.

Colorado continued to chip away, and a putback by George King made it 69-64 with under three minutes to go.

Still, the 20-point deficit proved to be too deep of a hole for Colorado to dig out of, and the Wildcats were able to close the game out in front of an increasingly nervous sold-out crowd.

The Buffaloes did become the first team to score 70 points or more against Arizona, though.

Colorado got off to a hot start from behind the arc, making four of its first five 3-point attempts to take a 18-10 lead with just under 14 minutes left in the half.

Colorado continued to launch 3s, but the shots stopped falling and the Wildcats stormed back with 11 unanswered points to take a 21-18 lead, revving up the McKale Center crowd.

Arizona continued to build on its lead, eventually taking a 29-20 lead after two free throws by Rawle Alkins, who finished with 10 points.

Colorado started 8-11 from the field, but then hit a stretch where it went 2 for 16. Arizona’s first-half shooting percentage wasn’t much better, but the Wildcats got to the free throw line 16 times in the first 20 minutes, converting on 12 of them.

Thank CU coach Tad Boyle for one of those made free throws as he picked up a technical foul with about three minutes left in the half. Allen split the pair of free throws to put Arizona up 33-24.

Alkins then hit a 3 and Ristic scored on a putback to extend Arizona’s lead to 39-24, though Johnson would hit a 3 as time expired to make it a 39-27 game at the half.

Arizona was 11-29 from the field in the first half, while Colorado was 10-29.

Both teams ended up shooting 44 percent in the game.

Final box score

Here are some takeaways from the game:

Time for Parker to start?

Arizona’s offense got off to a slow start, and you can’t help but wonder if that would have been different if Parker Jackson-Cartwright was in the starting lineup.

Sean Miller has said he’ll “cross that bridge when we get there” in regards to reinserting Jackson-Cartwright back into the starting five, presumably waiting for him to improve his conditioning.

But, after playing 27 minutes against Utah, Jackson-Cartwright played 26 minutes versus Colorado. He doesn’t look limited out there, so you’d have to think his return to the starting lineup is near.

He finished with 8 points and 6 assists.

Free throw frenzy

The free throw differential continues to be in Arizona’s favor.

The Wildcats had a +12 scoring margin from the line Thursday against Utah, and were + 16 against Colorado, going 26-33 from the line. This team not only gets to the free throw line at a high rate, but it’s making them at a high rate too.

Arizona is shooting 76 percent from the free throw line this year.

Accurate Allen

It’s time to start acknowledging Allen’s improvement as a shooter. Allen, while selective, has become a stellar 3-point shooter. Against the Buffaloes, Allen shot 3-3 from 3, upping his percentage to 51 percent for the season.

Defense is known to be Allen’s forte, but his shooting isn’t far off.

Trier still out, but....

There was growing speculation that Allonzo Trier would return for this game, seeing that the Wildcats are officially past the midpoint of their season, but that was not the case.

However, there was a new — and potentially important — development. Sean Miller told Pac-12 Network’s Jill Savage that he expects Trier to play “at some point” this season.

When will that be? It’s anybody’s guess at this point, but Miller had not expressed that type of optimism before.

You can follow this author on Twitter at @RKelapire