Ever notice how cats, when they catch something, like to play with their food before eventually taking care of business? That’s how Saturday night’s game went for Arizona.
The eighth-ranked Wildcats dug itself a 12-point hole before the late arrivals could find their seats, only to erase the deficit less than three minutes later and ended up cruising to a 78-68 win over Colorado at McKale Center.
The UA (24-4, 13-4 Pac-12) completed the weekend sweep of the Rocky Mountain schools and improved to 12-0 against the Buffaloes in McKale. Colorado (15-13, 7-10) last won in Tucson in 1965.
Oumar Ballo had his 10th double-double of the season, with 18 points (on 8-of-13 shooting) and a career-high 16 rebounds, Cedric Henderson Jr. had 15, Azuolas Tubelis 13 and Pelle Larsson 11 as Arizona shot 49.1 percent and outscored the Buffs by 16 in the paint.
Combined with a 38-10 paint dominance of Utah on Thursday, the Wildcats won that battle 78-34 this weekend.
The UA led 46-34 at the break, outscoring Colorado 40-16 after the early deficit. A smaller version of the sloppy start to the game ensued to open the second half, with the Buffaloes quickly getting within 7, but the Wildcats had the margin back up to 13 with 14:44 to go and then upped it to 61-45 with 11:04 remaining.
The lead stayed in double digits the rest of the way.
Such a comfortable win didn’t look likely out of the gate, though. Colorado made its first three shots and 7 of 11 to build an 18-6 lead, capitalizing on five early Arizona turnovers. But after Ballo was called for a charge with 15:33 left in the first half, the Wildcats didn’t give it away again the first of the period.
A 12-0 run tied the game at 18, then Arizona retook the lead with 8:40 remaining on a highlight-reel steal and reverse from Kylan Boswell:
Colorado’s final lead came at 25-24, after which Arizona outscored the Buffaloes 23-10 over the final eight minutes. The only blemish was a technical against Boswell for hanging on the rim after a breakaway dunk that put the Wildcats up 35-29 with 4:13 left.
Arizona wraps up its home slate next Saturday when it hosts ASU for Senior Day.