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Colorado completes the job, upsets Arizona

The SportsXchange

BOULDER, Colo. -- The scenario looked all too familiar for Colorado in its 71-58 win over No. 9 Arizona in front of a sellout crowd at Coors Event Center on Thursday.

After leading the Wildcats by as many as 14 points in the opening minutes of the second half, the Buffaloes allowed Arizona to rally within two possessions.

In the previous meeting between the teams, Arizona came back from a 17-point deficit to tie the Jan. 3 game, and a last-second shot by Colorado was controversially waved off, sending the game into overtime. Ever since the Wildcats prevailed 92-83 in OT, the Buffaloes had the rematch circled in their calendars.

"We were disappointed with how we closed it out it, and it goes without saying we were disappointed with the call at the end of the game," Colorado sophomore guard Spencer Dinwiddie said. "This is definitely a revenge game."

The Buffs held on Thursday, never letting Arizona climb closer than a six-point deficit in the second half.

Dinwiddie, who scored a game-high 21 points, started off the second half with an electrifying two-handed dunk after an Andre Roberson steal. Roberson had seven points and a game-high 13 rebounds.

With 10:36 remaining, Dinwiddie's scoring assault continued with a coast-to-coast steal and layup, and he followed with a 3-pointer after another Arizona turnover, pushing Colorado's lead to 53-39.

"I just think we were more poised down the stretch," Dinwiddie said. "We got stops, which was the biggest thing against Arizona the first time. If we don't let them score, they don't get back into the game. Tonight we held them to 58 points ... which is good enough to beat any good team because we will score 60 or more."

Colorado's Xavier Johnson hit back-to-back 3-pointers in the final five minutes of the game, stretching the lead to 13 and ending any doubt about the outcome.

The Buffaloes worked through the Wildcats' defense to score 50 percent from the floor overall (25-for-50), 52 percent on 3-pointers (9-for-17).

"We wouldn't be the team we are today with the record we have if teams would have shot like this throughout the year," Arizona coach Sean Miller said. "We have played against some of the best teams in this country, and our defense has held up. Tonight, it didn't."

Senior forward Solomon Hill led the Wildcats with 12 points and seven rebounds. Mark Lyons added 11 points, and Nick Johnson had nine.

"You can't match a team in this atmosphere," Hill said. "They are going to be playing downhill all the time. This is not a team to be playing uphill against. They are a fast team, and when they are making shots, they are probably the most deadly team in the Pac-12."

Due to cold 3-point shooting, Arizona trailed 30-23 at halftime. Averaging 36.3 percent from behind the arc on the season, the Wildcats hit just one of 10 3-point shots before the break. Arizona finished just 5-for-19 on 3-pointers (26.3 percent).

"Mentally, as a team, we weren't there," Hill said. "When you aren't connecting from 3 and you aren't running what you are supposed to, that's a deadly formula to losing."

The lead changed hands repeatedly until the final five minutes of the half. With the score tied at 20, Colorado started a 10-3 run when Xavier Johnson hit a buzzer-beating 3-pointer. Four different Buffs -- Johnson, Askia Booker, Shane Harris-Tunks and Roberson -- scored during the half ending run.

Xavier Johnson led the Buffaloes with 12 first-half points.

Early foul trouble for Arizona's Kaleb Tarczewski kept the 7-foot center on the bench for much of the first half, but senior Hill picked up the slack under the basket. Hill grabbed a team-high five rebounds before intermission. Lyons led the Wildcats with six first-half points.

"It was a little hard to breathe," Lyons said referring to Boulder's 5,430-foot elevation. "But, that's not an excuse for the way that we played. This wasn't a surprise tonight. They did the same thing to us when we were in Tucson."

Only this time, Colorado didn't let the Wildcats escape.

NOTES: Colorado's lone upperclassman starter, junior forward Roberson, entered the night leading the Pac-12 in rebounding (11.6 per game), defensive rebounding (8.9), and steals (2.2) ... The Wildcats led the Pac-12 in 3-pointers per game with an average of just more than seven per game before the game, but Colorado was second in the conference in denying 3-point shots. ... Four of the previous five meetings between the teams either went to overtime or had final margins of two points or fewer.

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