LAS VEGAS – Lauri Markkanen led Arizona with 20 points and, perhaps more importantly, found his 3-point shooting stroke while the Wildcats beat Colorado 92-78 in a Pac-12 Tournament quarterfinal Thursday at T-Mobile Arena.
Markkanen was a 50.5-percent 3-point shooter through February but went into a noted perimeter slump in recent weeks. He hadn’t hit a 3-pointer since Feb. 16, going 0-for-11 from long range over his past four games and hitting 14.2 percent in his last eight.
But on Thursday, Markkanen was 4 for 7 against Colorado while Allonzo Trier added 19 points and Dusan Ristic had 15 points and eight rebounds.
The Wildcats shot 55.6 percent overall while holding Colorado to about 40 percent despite the torrid scoring of Buffaloes guard Derrick White, who had 31 points on 9-for-19 shooting.
Colorado shot just 39.3 percent as a team.
The win moved UA to 28-4 overall and into a Pac-12 Tournament semifinal Friday at 9:40 p.m. against the winner of Thursday’s late quarterfinal between USC and UCLA. Colorado dropped to 18-14.
After leading by just a point at halftime, UA went on a 10-0 run to begin the second half, holding the Buffaloes scoreless for the first 4:24 while going to Markkanen for a 3-pointer on their first possession of the half.
The Wildcats went ahead by 13, 52-39, when Rawle Alkins hit a 3-pointer with 15:11 left, though a 3-pointer from Deleon Brown cut it to 54-47 and prompted UA coach Sean Miller to call a timeout with 12:06 left.
UA then went on a 12-1 run from there to pretty much put the game out of reach, going ahead 66-48 on a layup from Ristic with 9:43 left.
From there, White’s shooting kept Colorado from being blown out, with his 3-pointer cutting it to 76-67 with 3:56 left. By then, White had his 31 points but Xavier Johnson was the Buffs’ only other double-digit scorer, finishing with 20.
In the first half, Arizona shot 48.3 percent from the field to hold off a late Colorado charge and take a 38-37 halftime lead.
Arizona held a 36-29 lead with two minutes left but 3-pointers from Josh Fortune and White pulled the Buffs to within a point with a minute left, and two free throws from Johnson put Colorado briefly ahead 37-36.
But Ristic sank a hook shot with 10 seconds left to give UA the lead into halftime.
Allonzo Trier led UA in the first half with 12 points on 5-for-9 shooting.
White led Colorado with 15 points on 5-for-8 shooting, but the Buffs shot just 40 percent as a team and hit only the two late 3-pointers out of 11 long-range attempts.
UA also outrebounded the physical Buffaloes 19-16.
With 9:19 to go in the first half, Markkanen made his first 3-pointer since Feb. 16 at Washington State, giving UA a 24-18 lead during a 1-8 shooting drought for Colorado. UA pushed its lead to 27-18, having shot 52.6 percent from the field to that point.
Earlier in the game, Colorado took leads of up to four points, but UA went on a 7-0 run with a 3-pointer from Kadeem Allen to take a 19-15 lead and expanded it from there.
UA started the game with Allen, Rawle Alkins and Allonzo Trier on the perimeter, with Markkanen and Dusan Ristic inside.