Wildcats stampede Buffaloes
Sophomore forward Brandon Ashley scored 15 points and grabbed four rebounds in leading the No. 1 Arizona men’s basketball team to its 19th straight win, tying the modern school record.
The Wildcats (19-0, 6-0 Pac-12) surged past Colorado (15-5, 4-3 Pac-12) 69-57 in front of a national audience Thursday at McKale Center.
Junior shooting guard Nick Johnson, sophomore guard Gabe York and freshman forward Aaron Gordon combined for 39 points and nine rebounds.
The win tied the Wildcats with former UA head coach Lute Olson’s 19-0 streak.
“This is what we set out to do coming into this season,” Johnson said. “We knew we had a talented team and just needed to take it one step at a time That’s what we’ve done.”
Ashley shot 6-for-7 from the field to highlight Arizona’s offensive attack, which saw three players record double-digits. On defense, Ashley had two steals and a block.
“Brandon is the type of player that can just score from pretty much anywhere on the court,” Gordon said. “As long as he can continue making that shot from the key or the perimeter, that’s a money-maker.”
Johnson scored a team-high 18 points and added three rebounds and three assists. His backcourt counterpart, T.J. McConnell, had three assists and two steals while orchestrating an offense that shot with 49 percent accuracy.
Over the first six minutes of play, everything seemed to be going Arizona’s way. Thanks to an early 9-0 run by Arizona over the game’s first three-and-a-half minutes, the Wildcats jumped to a double-digit lead over Colorado, and halfway through the first period the score stood at 20-10.
The Buffaloes tried their best to hang on, but ultimately found it impossible to withstand Arizona’s relentless offense.
York scored two 3-pointers while racking up three assists and two rebounds. Sophomore center Kaleb Tarczewski contributed a team-leading eight rebounds to accompany seven points, two assists and a block.
Despite picking up eight team fouls in the first half — with five coming in the game’s first eight minutes — Arizona did not seemed to be fazed, and the Wildcats continued to extend their lead. At halftime, Arizona held a 15-point advantage, and at one time in the contest found itself up by as many as 20 points.
Colorado’s Josh Scott and Xavier Johnson provided the bulk of the Buffaloes’ offensive threat and subsequently combined to total 36 points and 13 rebounds.
In an early timeout of the second half, Arizona had six times the number of steals (6) and four times the number of assists (12) as Colorado. The Buffaloes finished the night with 16 turnovers compared to the Wildcats’ seven and were hurt severely in the paint.
Gordon picked up five dunks, including an impressive reverse slam dunk with 15:13 remaining in the game, to give Arizona a commanding 20-point lead. He continued to put up impressive numbers and finished with 12 points, four rebounds, three assists and two steals.
After the game, Miller pointed out that it was the first time all season the Wildcats failed to out-rebound their foe, but he said he was happy that they had only had seven turnovers.
“It was a hard-fought game for us tonight,” Miller said. “Thankfully we won.”
—Follow Evan Rosenfeld @EvanRosenfeld17