The Arizona men’s basketball team lost a close game to the Colorado Buffaloes by a score of 82-79.
The Wildcats had a rough start to the game as they were down 19-2 halfway through the first half. They shot the ball 33% from the field and 25% from the three-point range in the first half, as no one besides Bennedict Mathurin could get anything going on the offensive end of the floor.
"We are a tough-minded team,” James Akinjo said. “This game we fought. I feel like if we fought like that at Utah we would have won.”
Akinjo had a rough first half, where he only scored four points on 1-6 shooting from the field and wasn’t getting good shot attempts off. He bounced back in the second half and stepped up, scoring 12 points, five assists and made six free throws. Akinjo has shown throughout the entire season that he can play at a very high level but hasn’t been consistent with it every game.
“One of the keys to our team is being a consistent group,” head coach Sean Miller said. “We are not a perfect group, very inexperienced, but we have played together and we have played hard.”
Kerr Kriisa hit his first three-pointer tonight but has struggled on offense throughout his first two games in college. Miller stated multiple times that the team is still in good spirits despite going 0-2 on their two-game road trip.
"I think our entire team played a great game,” Miller said. “Tonight, win or lose, I couldn’t be happier for a group of guys.”
“We try to win every game, but there are a lot of valuable lessons we can learn from this,” Miller said. “You win as a team and lose as a team.”
The Wildcats' three main contributors this season stepped up again in the second half of tonight’s game with Akinjo, Mathurin and Azuolas Tubelis. They combined for 56 points of the teams’ 79 total points in the game.
Mathurin was benched to start the second half in the last game against Utah, and Miller continued bringing him off the bench in tonight’s game too but there didn’t seem to be any problems with his attitude in this game.
Mathurin made four three-pointers and was 7-9 from the field and was the Wildcats' best player in this game and played a big part in putting together this comeback attempt.
"[Mathurin] wasn’t who I believe he really is against Utah,” Miller said. “He had two or three really hard talks with me. They were to develop him, to teach him, to get him right and prepare him for things to come.”
Arizona has struggled with turning the ball over through the entire season so far, but they only had nine turnovers in the game, its lowest in the last six games.
The Wildcats now have four days off until they return home to play Oregon State on Thursday, Feb. 11, and then Oregon on Saturday, Feb. 13 in Tucson.
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