Arizona Basketball

Akinjo leads a team effort over visiting Colorado

Arizona picked a good time to play its best game of the season. Of course, any time – every time? – is good but Arizona and all its pieces put away Colorado 88-74 in McKale Center on Monday Night.

Arizona played its best because a few people played their best and everything meshed for a resounding 88-74 win over a Colorado team that went into the game 6-1.

“I was proud of our team and performance,” Miller said. “We were fully engaged and attentive to detail, ready to play this game.”

Arizona came back re-energized from its short break and it showed on Monday.

Miller went so far as to say that even if the team hadn’t won the game, he was not disappointed with its effort.

Well, he received both – and more. Effort, efficiency and everything else.

“I’m proud of our group,” he said.

So, was it the team’s best game of the season?

“I think so,” he said. “We had an energy about us on offense. We executed. We made shots.”

It shot 52 percent from the floor, even getting a nice 17-footer from Ira Lee.

James Akinjo had a game-high 22 points and guided UA flawlessly.

James Akinjo has a game-high 22 points. (photo courtesy Simon Asher, Arizona Athletics)

“James played a tremendous game,” Miller said. “No denying it.”

There’s no denying it was a group effort. Terrell Brown had seven assists and no turnovers.

Christian Koloko had 10 points, all from dunks. He added eight rebounds.

“He’s our hardest worker and you want your hard work to translate to games,” Miller said. “You need games to gain confidence and confidence is big for Christian. He had his best game of the season against a very good front line.”

Jemarl Baker was again consistent to help UA move to 7-1 overall and 1-1 in the Pac-12. He had 14 points.

“He had some great drives that ended up in free throw attempts,” Miller said. “I liked that about him.”

Miller said he was impressed with the guards, given they had 18 assists and only three turnovers.

“All in their own right were terrific,” he said.

But it was Akinjo, again, who lead Arizona’s charge late in the first half, hitting a long buzzer-beating 3-pointer to give Arizona an 8-0 run to end the half. He, too, had his best game as a Wildcat.

“We believe in James a lot,” said Brown. “He’s the engine to our team, the head of the snake.”

And Monday the snake looked good, strikingly good.

Still, collectively there was a lot to like, including transition defense and offense. Arizona created a number of turnovers, turning 13 in into 16 points.

Christian Koloko gets two of his 10 points vs. Colorado. (photo courtesy Arizona Athletics/Simon Asher)

“A lot of great opportunities are found in transition,” Miller said. “Here’s the thing about transition defense: when you play good offense and have eight turnovers that’s the No. 1 thing that helps transition defense. Part of why we were able to get our defense set was because we were a good offensive team tonight.”

You can say the same for offensive transition.

“We made good decisions and didn’t have those head-scratching turnovers,” Miller said. “We’ve talked a lot about trying to cut that number down. Tonight, we did that. I’m hoping it’s a sign of things to come.”

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