Another dismal defensive performance, combined with too many cold offensive stretches, saw the Arizona Wildcats trail for all but 92 seconds in a 67-60 loss to the Colorado Buffaloes on Sunday night in Boulder.
It was the seventh consecutive loss for Arizona (14-12, 5-8 Pac-12), its longest skid since dropping 16 in a row during the school-worst 4-24 season in 1982-83.
Ryan Luther had 17 points and Dylan Smith scored 16 for the second game in a row for the Wildcats, who have dropped five in a row on the road to clinch their first losing Pac-12 road record since 2015-16 and just the third sub-.500 league road mark in Sean Miller’s 10 seasons.
Meanwhile, Colorado (16-9, 7-6) has won five in a row in conference play for the first time in 13 years.
Arizona shot 44.4 percent overall, including 52 percent in the second half, and was 8 of 21 from three-point range thanks to four each from Luther and Smith. But Colorado shot 55.8 percent, the fifth time in six games an Arizona foe has shot at least 50 percent from the field.
Down 34-28 at halftime after trailing by as many as 11 for a good portion of the opening period, Arizona tied it at 36 on a Luther jumper with 15:35 left in the second half. But then Colorado point guard McKinley Wright IV scored seven in a row for in a 59-second span to put the Buffaloes up 43-36 with 14:12 left.
Wright finished with 14 points, while Lucas Siewert had 15 and Tyler Bey had nine points with 10 rebounds as Colorado out-boarded Arizona 31-24.
Colorado extended the lead to 51-39 on a three-point play by Bey and a triple by D’Shawn Schwartz, making seven of nine shots after going 1 of 10 during a 10-minute stretch spanning both halves. Arizona missed 6 of 7 during the Buffs’ 15-3 run.
Back-to-back shots by Smith, including a transition three on a sick no-look pass from Justin Coleman, got Arizona with 53-46 with 9:09 left.
Arizona trailed 59-52 after a Smith three when Brandon Randolph was fouled on a long two. The 81.4 percent foul shooter missed both free throws, however, and Wright drained a three on the other end to build Colorado’s lead back to 10 with 4:09 to go.
The Wildcats couldn’t get closer than seven after that, a 4-for-10 performance from the foul line killing any chance for a comeback.
An 0-for-6 start from the field put Arizona behind the eight-ball early, though not nearly as much as its defense. Colorado started 10 for 11 from the field, at one time scoring on nine straight possessions to lead 27-16 with 9:36 left in the first half.
The only Wildcat whose shot looked good early was Luther, who drained three three-pointers in as many attempts in the first 13-plus minutes.
Yet Arizona only trailed 32-26 with 5:05 left after Smith hit a three and Ira Lee scored inside. The Buffaloes went nearly six minutes without scoring after their hot start but the Wildcats couldn’t capitalize, missing seven straight shots during a 5:04 scoreless drought that ended on a Lee dunk with one second before halftime.
Arizona returns home Thursday to face the California Golden Bears, who are winless in the Pac-12.