Arizona Basketball

Three top storylines of Arizona Wildcats at Colorado Buffaloes



Arizona hopes to increase its win streak over Colorado to six games tonight (YouTube screen shot)

Arizona hopes to increase its win streak over Colorado to six games tonight (YouTube screen shot)

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PP: Productivity Points (Points, assists, rebounds, steals, blocked shots, FGs made, FTs made added together and then subtracted by missed FGs, missed FTs, personal fouls and turnovers)
MIN: Minutes played overall
PR: Productivity rating per minute played (Productivity points divided by minutes played)

The Buffaloes’ starters.
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NO. 7 ARIZONA (24-3, 12-2) AT COLORADO (12-14, 5-9)
Tip Time: 7:05 p.m. MST
TV: ESPN (Dave Pasch/Bill Walton)
Radio: Arizona IMG Sports Network (Brian Jeffries/Ryan Hansen)
Overall: Arizona leads, 12-11
In Boulder: Arizona trails, 2-7
Current Streak: Arizona won 5
Last Meeting: Arizona won, 68-54, on Jan. 15, 2015
Sean Miller vs. Colorado: 8-3

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Top three storylines for tonight’s game:

1. Colorado thinking upset.

Colorado coach Tad Boyle saw his alma mater Kansas lose earlier this week to Kansas State and he felt something positive out of that.

The Buffaloes’ Web site reports that Boyle “came away buoyed by the arena’s electricity and the home team’s energy” in the game played at Manhattan, Kan.

Before upsetting the eighth-ranked Jayhawks70-63, Kansas State had lost seven of eight games. Colorado has lost five of six, including two straight, entering tonight’s game.

“You’d have never known that they’d (lost seven of eight) by the way they played,” Boyle is quoted as saying. “No matter what happens for us, I want us to play with that kind of passion and energy every single night out . . . that’s what I want to see.”

Virginia Tech was 10-17 overall and 2-12 in the ACC heading into last night’s home game against Duke. The Hokies took the fourth-ranked Blue Devils into overtime before succumbing 91-86.

People like to refer to tonight’s game as a “trap game” before the much-anticipated matchup at No. 13 Utah on Saturday night. Sean Miller has an experienced enough team — with three losses to teams it should have beaten — to understand the challenge Colorado poses tonight.

If the Buffaloes pull off the upset because Arizona (a 10-point favorite) has a subpar performance than shame on the Wildcats.


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2. Another top-heavy opponent

Arizona is coming off a 57-47 victory over a UCLA team that functions primarily off of four standouts with a productive rotation of only six guys. Colorado is much of the same with Askia Booker, Xavier Johnson, Josh Scott and Wesley Gordon factoring mostly into the Buffaloes’ plans.

Johnson and Scott did not play because of injuries against Arizona in Tucson last month, a game in which Booker drew comparisons of Jimmer Fredette from Miller. Booker had 30 of Colorado’s points in a 68-54 loss. He made 11 of 17 shots and was the only Buffalo to try double-digit shots and score in double-figures.

Booker has attempted an incredible 357 field goals and made 140 for a percentage of only 39.2. By comparison, Stanley Johnson leads the Wildcats with 266 field goal attempts and he has made 124 for a percentage of 46.6.

Booker, Xavier Johnson, Scott and Gordon have attempted 59.1 percent of Colorado’s shots and have made 44.1 percent of them. The foursome averages 58.5 of Colorado’s 66.7 points a game.

Arizona’s bench, which has not always shined on the road, will need production again from Dusan Ristic, Parker Jackson-Cartwright, Gabe York and Elliott Pitts.

3. Boyle is a T.J. McConnell believer.

The Colorado Web site also reports that Boyle has the Arizona senior point guard as his Pac-12 player of the year.

Boyle joins Oregon State’s Wayne Tinkle as publicly acknowledging that McConnell is worthy of that honor.

McConnell, rated this week in our Top 10 Arizona Hoops Badasses, has the credentials for player of the year status:

— He is averaging 12 points on 55.9 percent shooting in Pac-12 play

— He has a 3.03 assist-to-turnover ratio in 65 games at Arizona

— He ranks 15th nationally in assists/game (6.0) and 11th in assist-to-turnover ratio (3.06).

McConnell also sets the tone for Arizona’s defense on the perimeter against the primary ball-handler. His matchup with Booker should be interesting. Rondae Hollis-Jefferson was matched often against the Colorado guard last month but will likely have to guard Xavier Johnson now.

The bad news for Colorado against a stout Arizona defense: The Buffaloes haven’t shot better than 36.7 percent from the field in any of its last six games.


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Present RPI ranking of the Pac-12.
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Present RPI ranking of Arizona’s non-conference opponents.
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[table “” not found /] publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He also has published articles for Bleacher Report and Lindy’s College Sports.

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