LAS VEGAS – Turns out, the Arizona Wildcats don’t just go wherever Deandre Ayton takes them.
On Thursday, they reached the Pac-12 Tournament semifinals without the usual outsized contributions from their conference player of the year, beating Colorado 83-67 in the Pac-12 Tournament quarterfinal game at T-Mobile Arena.
Ayton had 10 points and six rebounds while fouling out with 3:34 to go after logging 25 minutes, leaving him still one double-double short of Al Fleming's UA season record of 22. But all five starters scored in double figures for Arizona, which pulled out of a close game thanks in part to a technical foul on Colorado and an injury to Buffalo point guard McKinley Wright in the middle of the second half.
Allonzo Trier led UA in scoring with 22 points while Dusan Ristic had 16 points and 11 rebounds, his seventh double-double of the season. George King led Colorado with 19 points.
Arizona shot 43.9 percent but kept Colorado to 42.3 percent overall and just 5 of 20 from 3-point range. The Wildcats also outrebounded the Buffaloes 36-27 and scored 10 second-chance points on their 10 offensive rebounds.
The win moved Arizona (25-7) into a Pac-12 Tournament semifinal game on Friday at 7 p.m. against the winner of Thursday afternoon’s UCLA-Stanford game. Colorado dropped to 17-5.
Up by just two at halftime, Arizona led just 42-39 with 13:44 left before the game changed drastically. After a jumper from Arizona’s Dylan Smith, McKinley Wright was tangled under the basket and appeared to injure his right foot, leaving the game for good with 13:09 left.
Wright, who nearly had a triple-double in Colorado’s win over ASU on Wednesday, had eight points, five assists and four rebounds in 22 minutes before departing.
Less than two minutes later, UA’s Rawle Alkins blocked a shot from Lazar Nikolic and Dusan Ristic scored on the other end of the court to give the Wildcats a 50-41 lead. Then, after Colorado’s Dom Collier lost the ball on the wing, Parker Jackson-Cartwright picked it up – and Collier grabbed his ankle in an attempt to keep PJC from an uncontested basket.
That earned Collier a personal foul and Colorado a technical, with Trier hitting the two technical foul shots and Jackson-Cartwright hitting 1 of 2. UA was up 55-41 with 10:29 at the end of it all, and kept double-digit leads the rest of the way.
In the first half, Arizona took a 35-33 lead over the Buffs after Trier scored 12 points. The Wildcats shot 44.4 percent from the field while Colorado shot 46.2 percent, and Arizona outrebounded the Buffs 15-12 overall.
While Trier had 12 points, Ayton had six points and three rebounds. King led Colorado in scoring with 10 points while McKinley Wright had six points, five assists and two rebounds.
Arizona stumbled to a 7-3 deficit early, scoring only on a 3-pointer from Jackson-Cartwright over the first three minutes while Colorado center Dallas Walton made a 3-pointer and blocked a shot by Ayton early.
CU took early leads of up to six points but the Wildcats tied it at 17 on a reverse layup from Ayton with 10:45 left in the half and Arizona went on to take a 29-17 lead after Trier hit a 3-pointer and two free throws.
Colorado was kept scoreless for nearly five minutes during that span but came back to pull within 29-27 after King hit two 3-pointers and Tyler Bey scored inside for the Buffaloes.
The teams split their regular season series, with Colorado beating Arizona 80-77 on Jan. 6 in Boulder and the Wildcats winning 80-71 on Jan. 25 at McKale Center.