Facing a wounded opponent is not always as easy as it looks. The Arizona Wildcats will face just such a situation when the Buffaloes come to town on Sunday. Colorado started the season 13-0 but will show up in Tucson on a three-game losing streak. Can the home team make it four?
When Mya Hollingshed announced that she would return for her super senior season, Colorado head coach JR Payne had to be one of the happiest coaches in the U.S. Hollingshed has been one of the most underappreciated stars in the Pac-12 for most of her career.
The return of Hollingshed and the play of Jaylyn Sherrod and Frida Forman boosted Colorado to a perfect record in nonconference play. They have also gotten a huge lift from Washington transfer Quay Miller, who averages 12.4 points per game off the bench.
Still, that 13-0 record came with question marks for the Buffs. It was a weak nonconference schedule. What would they do once they had to face teams like Stanford?
The answer came in their opening Pac-12 game. The Buffaloes started out well, grabbing 10 steals and taking a lead in the opening quarter on their home court. The Cardinal settled down, though, and won the other three quarters to take the victory.
Since then, Colorado has lost two on the road, including a tough overtime game in Tempe when ASU finally opened Pac-12 play on Friday night. To send the Buffaloes into a four-game skid, the Wildcats will likely have to play the same way the Sun Devils did: scrap and fight.
Colorado has the No. 32 defense in Division I women’s basketball according to stats service Her Hoop Stats. Arizona is eighth. The Wildcats also have the superior offense, ranking 28th to the Buffaloes’ 65th.
Both play at a slow pace. Arizona has 68.4 possessions per 40 minutes compared to Colorado’s 68.5. That places them at No. 283 and No. 282 out of 356 DI teams, respectively.
Can the Wildcats prolong the Buffaloes’ misery? It could come down to the fourth quarter just like Arizona’s last five games.
No. 22 Colorado (13-3, 0-3) @ No. 10 Arizona (13-2, 3-2)
When and where: The game will tip off at McKale Center in Tucson, Ariz. at 12 p.m. MST on Sunday, Jan. 23.
TV: The game will air on Pac-12 Mountain.
Colorado is ranked No. 22 by the AP and No. 23 by the coaches. The Buffaloes are No. 34 in the NET and No. 49 according to Her Hoop Stats.
Projections: Her Hoop Stats gives the Wildcats an 86.8 percent win probability at home and predicts 65 points for Arizona against 53 for Colorado. Arizona would also have a sizable advantage on a neutral court or in Colorado according to the stats service.
Adia Barnes says: “Colorado is different (than Utah). So, (Utah) is very—an offensive-minded team. I think Colorado is more defensive-minded, scrappy, play an aggressive zone, very different, have some more athleticism inside. So I think it’s a tough weekend for us.”
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