Tucson, AZ (SportsNetwork.com) - The 10th-ranked Arizona Wildcats begin a brief two-game homestand on Thursday, as they welcome the Colorado Buffaloes to the McKale Center for a Pac-12 matchup.
Sean Miller's Wildcats opened the season with 12 straight wins, but have since split their last four games. The team closed out non-conference play with a loss to UNLV (71-67), but then began Pac-12 play with back-to-back wins over Arizona State (73-49) and Oregon (80-62), before faltering last weekend at Oregon State (58-56).
Tad Boyle's Buffaloes are three games over .500 on the season at 9-6 and are also sporting a 2-1 mark in conference play. Colorado will be playing against its second straight Top-25 foe after getting routed by Utah last week on the road, 74-49.
This marks the 23rd all-time meeting between these two teams, with the series all knotted up at 11-11. However, Arizona has won four straight matchups with Colorado, including a three-game sweep a year ago.
It wasn't a very encouraging outing against Utah last time out for Colorado, as the Buffaloes shot just .395 from the floor in the game and turned the ball over a whopping 18 times, resulting in 28 points for the Utes. Askia Booker and Jaron Hopkins led the way offensively for the Buffaloes in defeat, posting 12 points apiece.
The Buffaloes don't usually put up gaudy offensive numbers, but they have been much more efficient this season overall, coming into this bout shooting a solid .451 from the floor. CU does hold a +4.7 rebounding margin, but has struggled with taking care of the basketball, averaging 13.3 turnovers per game a sporting a -2.0 turnover margin as a result. Offensively, the Buffs employ a three-pronged attack, starting with Booker's 15.5 ppg. Josh Scott is the top playmaker in the frontcourt for Colorado, as the 6-10 junior is shooting .539 from the floor, while averaging 13.8 points and a team-best 7.2 rebounds per game. Xavier Johnson rounds out the potent trio with his 12.8 ppg.
The Wildcats enter this game off one of their worst performances in recent memory, as the team simply couldn't find its rhythm at either end of the floor against the Beavers. Arizona shot a dismal .378 from the field overall and allowed OSU to shoot a scorching .513 from the floor in the two-point loss in Corvallis. Rondae Hollis-Jefferson led the team in defeat with 14 points. T.J. McConnell added 13 points and dished out six assists, but there was very little help elsewhere on the roster.
The Oregon State game may just be an anomaly for Arizona, which has prided itself on strong team play at both ends of the court this season. The Wildcats are shooting a hefty .493 from the floor on the year and putting up 75.1 ppg, while limiting foes to just 59.6 ppg on .393 shooting. Freshman Stanley Johnson, who netted just seven points last time out, is still tops on the team in scoring at 13.9 ppg. Hollis-Jefferson and Brandon Ashley aren't far behind in the scoring column at 11.6 and 11.3 ppg, respectively. Other key contributors include Gabe York (9.2 ppg) and McConnell (8.8 ppg), who ranks 10th nationally in assists (5.9 apg).