Colorado (10-2) at (3) Arizona (12-0)
Thursday, January 3, 8 p.m. (et)
The Sports Network
By Scott Haynes, Senior College Basketball Editor
FACTS & STATS: Site: McKale Center (14,538) -- Tucson, Arizona. Television: ESPNU. Home Record: Colorado 6-0, Arizona 7-0. Away Record: Colorado 1-2, Arizona 2-0. Neutral Record: Colorado 3-0, Arizona 3-0. Conference Record: Colorado 0-0, Arizona 0-0. Series Record: Colorado leads, 10-6.
GAME NOTES: The third-ranked Arizona Wildcats put their unblemished record on the line on Thursday, as they play host to the Colorado Buffaloes in the Pac-12 opener for both squads.
Sean Miller's Wildcats are one of just three unbeatens left in the Division I ranks (Duke and Michigan), closing out their non-conference slate with a perfect 12-0 mark. Of those dozen victories, two have come against top-25 foes, topping Florida and most recently San Diego State in a couple of one- point affairs.
Colorado is certainly a dangerous team to open league play against. The Buffaloes were ranked in the top-25 earlier this season and come into conference play with a 10-2 overall mark and a three-game win streak in tow. Tad Boyle's Buffaloes were able to close out the 2012 portion of their schedule with last weekend's 80-52 blasting of Hartford.
Colorado leads the all-time series by a count of 10-6. Arizona has won four of the last six meetings, but it was the Buffaloes who captured the 2012 Pac-12 Tournament title with a 53-51 nail-biter against the Wildcats.
The Buffaloes aren't a team that lights up the scoreboard, but rather an efficient squad, that is netting 73.1 ppg on a healthy 47.3 percent from the floor. In addition, Colorado enjoys a +8.5 scoring margin, as well as a +6.8 rebounding edge. Four of the team's five starters are averaging double figures, led by Askia Booker's 14.8 ppg. Spencer Dinwiddie is a close second at 14.4 ppg, followed by Josh Scott and Andre Roberson, who tack on 13.2 and 12.1 ppg, respectively. The 6-foot-7 Roberson has been a beast on thee boards, ranking third nationally in rebounding at 12.1 rpg, as well as 14th nationally in double-doubles (6).
In the team's rout of Hartford last time out, Colorado breezed to victory, shooting .492 from the floor, while manhandling Hartford on the boards to the tune of a 52-21 advantage in rebounds. Scott and Booker combined for 40 points in the win, with Scott leading the way with 21. Roberson was once again dominant inside with 14 points and the same number of boards, while Dinwiddie posted a strong all-around game with 11 points, six rebounds and six assists.
The Wildcats have posted strong numbers at both ends of the floor this season, averaging 76.6 ppg, while allowing just 59.2. Strong rebounding is also an asset for Arizona, which is grabbing 37.3 caroms per game, while boasting of a +10.1 rebounding margin. Three of the team's five starters are currently averaging double figures in scoring, led by Mark Lyons' 13.4 ppg. Solomon Hill and Nick Johnson are tied for second on the team with 12.7 ppg apiece. Kevin Parrom comes off the bench with 8.9 ppg, while Brandon Ashley chips in 8.7 ppg, while leading the team on the boards (6.5 rpg).
In a thrilling championship game of the Diamond Head Classic on Christmas Day, a pair of Lyons' free throws and a blocked shot by Johnson earned the Wildcats the tournament crown and kept their record perfect. Hill had one of his best games, pouring in 21 points to lead the team. Parrom added 17 points off the bench, while Johnson finished with 11. The game with the Aztecs was an instant classic, featuring 11 ties and 10 lead changes, most of them down the stretch in the second half.
Arizona has proved it knows how to win the close games. That may come in handy in the conference opener, as Colorado is certainly a team capable of an upset here.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Arizona 71, Colorado 68
01/03 10:45:41 ET