Devine Devonaire: Freshman propels Arizona to 64-56 victory over Colorado
2019 is upon us, and with that means a start to conference play. Arizona men's basketball took its first step towards reclaiming another conference title, defeating Colorado on Thursday by a score of 64-56 on Thursday night in McKale.
The trials and tribulations of the Pac-12 schedule offer a clean slate to a conference that was downright ugly during the non-conference portion of the season.
“It’s up for grabs and everybody sees that,” Brandon Williams said of the conference.
The Wildcats have been plagued by slow starts in many of their games this season, especially at home, but they eased the stress of the McKale crowd with a first half that saw them shoot 51.6 percent from the floor and 50 percent from behind the arc, taking their biggest lead into the locker room at halftime of the year at 39-24. The defense held Colorado to 28.6 percent from 3-point range and forced nine turnovers from the Buffaloes in the first half.
The big lead at halftime didn't mean the game wasn’t without some second-half drama, however. A late 8-0 run by the Buffaloes made it 54-45 with 5:22 left, with Colorado later getting as close a seven, before Arizona sealed the game late at the free-throw line.
The ‘Cats were essentially without the services of starting point guard Justin Coleman, as he dislocated his shoulder in practice on Monday. The senior only played four minutes coming off the bench and missed his one shot attempt.
Williams handled the starting point guard duty, with Dylan Smith taking over at shooting guard. Williams led the way for Arizona in scoring with 14, but still struggled with his shot, shooting 6-17 from the floor, including 0-4 from 3. His biggest contribution come as a ball distributor, dishing out six assists.
“I had to step up.” Williams said postgame. “Just leading the offense and being that vocal leader. Being a quarterback of the team.”
The scoring was a balanced effort for the most part on the night for the ‘Cats. Besides Williams and Brandon Randolph, who had 11 points, no other Wildcat scored in double figures. Devonaire Doutrive provided the spark off the bench many Arizona fans had been cheering for, pitching in 8 points and 4 rebounds in 11 minutes.
“I thought there could be a period of time where he could become important to our team because his style is so much different than everybody else," head coach Sean Miller said. “I believe that he will be a big part of what we do this year.”
The Wildcats were out-rebounded by six, and only shot 5-18 from 3-point range but their defense was the catalyst for them yet again, as they held Colorado to 35.8 percent shooting for the game, and 35.3 percent from beyond the arc.
“We had a hard time putting two halves together,” Miller said. “We went from playing among our best ball in the first half, to maybe some of our worst in the second half. I was just happy we were able to hold on, win, talk about it, learn from it, and move on here to Utah Saturday.”
Arizona faces a Utah team that won’t be short on confidence, having gone into Tempe and defeating the potential conference favorite in Arizona State 96-86 tonight. Tipoff on Saturday is scheduled for 12 p.m. on the Pac-12 Network.
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