Arizona outlasts Colorado behind big performances from Azuolas Tubelis, Justin Kier
Arizona and Colorado came to play on Friday night in Las Vegas at the Pac-12 Tournament. Before anyone could so much as find their seats, Colorado’s Jabari Walker had made 2 3-pointers and the score was 11-6 in favor of the No. 4-seed Buffaloes.
Walker was 5-for-5 from 3-point range in the first half, accounting for 17 of the Buffaloes’ 38 points. He was hitting everything from deep (literally), including this shot where he figured “why not?” when no other options presented themselves:
Bari is 3-3 from deep 🎯🎯🎯
21-15 🦬 | 1H 12:02
— Colorado Men's Basketball (@CUBuffsMBB) March 12, 2022
Even with Walker’s hot start, though, Arizona forward Azuolas Tubelis stole the show (of which Las Vegas has no shortage), putting up 18 points and punctuating the end of the half with this 3-point play to give the Wildcats a 47-38 edge at the intermission:
Tubelis putting the exclamation point on the first half❗️
— Pac-12 Network (@Pac12Network) March 12, 2022
Coming out of halftime, the Colorado defense had figured out how to stop Tubelis. The Buffaloes stopped giving Tubelis open jumpers in order to double up on big man Christian Koloko. The problem? In the second half, Oumar Ballo was a monster, scoring 6 points and getting to the foul line 4 times, making all 4 shots:
The dunk on one end ‼️
The block on the other ‼️
— Arizona Basketball (@ArizonaMBB) March 12, 2022
That doesn’t sound like much, perhaps, but those fouls ended up altering the game in big ways, as they were against 2 key Colorado players. With 10:30 left in the game, both Walker and Evan Battey had picked up their fourth fouls. After that, Arizona controlled the paint even more than it had been.
Walker only scored 2 points after halftime. And, while Tubelis also only scored 2 after the intermission, Arizona depth carried the day. The Wildcats had 5 players in double figures — Tubelis (20 points), Justin Kier (13), Dalen Terry (12), Bennedict Mathurin (10) and Oumar Ballo (10).
The Wildcats missed point guard Kerr Kriisa, who is out with an ankle injury suffered on Thursday vs. Stanford, turning the ball over 18 times to Colorado’s 14, but the Wildcats simply had too many athletes to throw at the Buffaloes, holding on for the 82-72 victory.
Arizona advances to play the winner of the nightcap between USC and UCLA in Saturday’s championship game. The action tips off at 6 p.m. Pacific time and can be seen on FOX.