BOULDER, Colo. – Colorado’s Xavier Johnson had it all backward.
The Buffaloes sophomore forward, who confidently predicted a “20-point blowout” win tonight after Arizona beat Colorado last month at McKale Center, struggled along with his teammates in the Wildcats’ 88-61 blowout win Saturday at the Coors Events Center.
Colorado missed its first 15 field goals against UA’s stiff defense and never fully recovered, cutting the Wildcats’ lead to just four points in the second half before UA went on a 29-6 run to take control of the game. Arizona hit 22 of 26 shots in the second half, a blistering 84.6 percent.
Aaron Gordon, who fouled out and was a limited factor in UA’s overtime win over Utah on Wednesday, led the Wildcats with 23 points – including making both of his three-point attempts — while Nick Johnson had 20.
Xavier Johnson went 1 for 10 from the field for Colorado, which shot just 32.7 percent from the field overall. Josh Scott led the Buffs with 18 points but guard Askia Booker was 4-for-14 from the field for 10 points.
The win moved Arizona to 25-2 overall and 12-2 in the Pac-12. Colorado dropped to 20-8 and 9-6.
The Wildcats took a two-game lead in the Pac-12 race over UCLA, which lost at Stanford earlier Saturday.
After the Wildcats took a 31-25 halftime lead, both teams charged ahead offensively early in the second. But after Colorado cut it to 37-33, Gordon hit a three-pointer in the corner and scored inside to give UA a 42-33 lead and the Wildcats went on to take control of the game with what became a 29-6 run over the middle of the second half.
In the first half, Arizona stifled Colorado’s errant offense early and rode that to a 31-25 halftime.
The Buffs missed their first 15 field goals, failing to hit one for over the first 10 minutes of the game, and trailed by as many as 17 points before coming back somewhat later in the half.
Colorado shot just 22.2 percent for the half and Arizona outrebounded the Buffaloes 27-21. Nick Johnson led UA in scoring with nine points while Josh Scott had 10 for Colorado.
Arizona was leading 22-2 before Jaron Hopkins hit a three-pointer with 9:48 left in the half to end the Buffaloes’ field-goal drought. Colorado later rattled off seven straight points to cut UA’s lead to 26-21 and cut UA's lead to five points again just before the halftime buzzer when Askia Booker hit a 10-footer in a crowd of defenders.
The Wildcats started the game in unsurprising fashion: They had two missed free throws from Aaron Gordon, and three offensive rebounds on their first possession.
The Wildcats took a 14-3 lead through the first five minutes, while Colorado missed its first seven field goals. Arizona also outrebounded the Buffs 10-3 through the first five minutes.
Colorado’s field goal woes continued when Xavier Johnson’s layup rolled off the rim with 12 minutes to go, and UA leading 17-5. Rondae Hollis-Jefferson then picked up an and-one, but missed the free throw to make it 19-5.