Top-ranked Wildcats play host to Buffaloes

11:03 AM, Jan 23, 2014   |    comments
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Tucson, AZ ( - The top-ranked Arizona Wildcats put their perfect record on the line on Thursday night, as they play host to the Colorado Buffaloes in a Pac-12 showdown at the McKale Center.

Off to the best start in school history, Sean Miller's Wildcats moved to a flawless 18-0 with last week's rout of instate rival Arizona State, 91-68. The victory also pushed the team to 5-0 in conference play.

Tad Boyle's Buffaloes came out of the gate firing this season, earning a spot in the Top 25 with wins in 10 of their first 11 games. CU did suffer back-to- back conference losses to Washington (71-54) and UCLA (69-56), but was able to get back into the win column this past weekend with an 83-62 blasting of USC.

Colorado holds an 11-8 series edge against Arizona. The Wildcats won two of three meetings a year ago, including a 10-point win in last year's Pac-12 Tournament (79-69).

Colorado put on a strong offensive showing in the win over USC last weekend, shooting .509 from the floor and an impressive 19-of-22 from the free-throw line. Josh Scott led the way with a game-high 20 points. Askia Booker and Xavier Johnson provided some offense as well, with 13 and 10 points, respectively.

The offensive display against the Trojans was a welcome sight, considering Colorado has had to deal with the recent loss of leading scorer and distributor Spencer Dinwiddie (14.7 ppg, 3.8 apg). With Dinwiddie done for the year with a torn ACL, others will need to step up and fill the void for Colorado. The likely candidates are Scott and Booker. Scott has been a force up front, as the sophomore averages a near double-double with 14.3 points and 9.1 rebounds per game. Booker provides perimeter balance with 13.5 ppg.

Arizona is as healthy as any team in the country and that doesn't bode well for the rest of the Pac-12 as the Wildcats head into the home stretch. The team has dominated in just about every facet of the game, and enjoys a +19.2 scoring margin, as well as a +10.6 rebounding margin. The play at the defensive end has been stellar, with Arizona ranking fifth in the nation in scoring defense (56.7 ppg) and field-goal percentage defense (.370). Guard Nick Johnson leads the way in the scoring column with 16.3 ppg. A potent frontcourt gives the team balance, with Aaron Gordon (12.4 ppg, 7.8 rpg), Brandon Ashley (12.1 ppg, 6.2 rpg) and Kaleb Tarczewski (9.9 ppg, 6.6 rpg) making things tough on the competition down low. Point guard T.J. McConnell rounds out the starting five and although he isn't much of a scorer (7.4 ppg), he does distribute the ball quite well (6.2 apg).

Arizona shot the ball extremely well in routing the Sun Devils last week, converting 55.7 percent from the floor overall, including 53.3 percent from behind the arc. ASU was overwhelmed by Arizona's balance, as seven Wildcats finished in double figures. Johnson led the way with 17 points. Gordon poured in 16, followed by Tarczewski (12 pts), Rondae Hollis-Jefferson (11 pts), Ashley (10 pts), McConnell (10 pts) and Gabe York (10 pts).

The Sports Network

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