The Arizona Wildcats sit at 12-3 after this nine-game win streak and also are the final undefeated team in the Pac-12, as every other conference foe has picked up at least one loss in the first two weeks on conference play.
Arizona is 2-0 after Thursday’s 94-82 win over Utah and they’ll now travel to Boulder to face the Colorado Buffaloes in a Saturday matinee to see if they can complete the sweep in their first Pac-12 road trip of the season.
Colorado is coming off their first conference win of the season, a big overtime upset over the Arizona State Sun Devils, 90-81.
Arizona will be favored by close to double-digits in this one but in a road game in the Pac-12, anything can happen.
Here are three keys to a Wildcat victory on Saturday at noon MST:
Win the rebounding battle
The Buffaloes are not truly elite at anything but Coach Tad Boyle always has one of the toughest teams in the country and that translates to being good on the glass.
Colorado ranks in the top 40 in rebounding and don’t often allow offensive rebounds to opponents.
Rebounds and crashing the offensive glass in particular were a huge part of Arizona’s win over Utah on Thursday night. Arizona doubled up the Utes on the boards, 46-23 and pulled down 14 offensive rebounds in the process.
As good as Colorado is on the glass, I don’t know how realistic it is for them to keep Deandre Ayton and Rawle Alkins off the boards for long. Boyle preaches the importance of boxing out as much as any other coach in the country and that will work early on. But the athleticism and the bodies of Arizona’s best should wear down the Buffs and give the Wildcats plenty of second chance opportunities.
As long as Arizona doesn’t allow themselves to be bullied on the glass, they should dominate that area.
Score off turnovers
Causing turnovers has not come easy to Arizona this season but they’re playing a perfect opponent to remedy that.
The Buffaloes rank toward the bottom of the country in turnovers per game, giving away 15 per contest, with half of those coming by way of steals by the other team.
The Wildcats’ length on the perimeter should lead to easy steals against such a sloppy team and easy buckets on the other end. Allonzo Trier’s ability to get out ahead of defenders and either finish with explosiveness or draw contact at the rim should come in handy on Saturday.
Either way, there’s no excuse for Arizona on Saturday. The chances to cause turnovers will be there. They need to take advantage and turn it into big points against Colorado.
While the most simple of the three, this is also the most dangerous if they don’t get the job done.
They’re looking at a long stretch of games where they are heavily favored so they can’t come in to Boulder on Saturday afternoon and suffer a letdown. The Colorado Buffaloes haven’t played well for much of the season but they’re not the type of program to allow you to play poorly and still come out with a win. ASU found that out the hard way on Thursday night.
The Wildcats need to simply show up and take care of business the same way they have the last nine times out. If they don’t, they’ll be right back to square one.