BOULDER, Colo. – Colorado’s Sabatino Chen never needed a chance for redemption this time.
His teammates made that unnecessary.
Colorado handed the Wildcats their worst loss of the season, 71-58, before a screaming, boisterous sellout crowd of 11,120 at the Coors Events Center that was all too happy to see the Buffs make up for their 92-83 overtime loss at Arizona on Jan. 3.
That was the one in which Chen lofted up a would-be game winner, only to have officials rule it was not good because it left his hands after time expired.
On Thursday, Chen did not score but his replacement at small forward, Xavier Johnson, threw down 19 demonstrative points on the Wildcats while teammate Spencer Dinwiddie followed up a perfect shooting night at Oregon State last weekend by leading the Buffaloes with 21 points.
Solomon Hill led Arizona with 12 points while Mark Lyons had 11 for the Wildcats, who made just 5 of 19 three-pointers after going 3 for 20 from long range last season at Colorado.
The loss was Arizona’s second straight for the first time since the end of last season, when the Wildcats lost to Colorado in the Pac-12 Tournament final and to Bucknell in the first round of the NIT.
The Wildcats dropped to 20-4 overall and 8-4 in the Pac-12, where they are now a game behind first-place Oregon.
Colorado improved to 17-7 and 7-5,having beaten a Top 10 team for the first time in two seasons. It beat No. 5 Texas and No. 8 Missouri in 2010-11 while still a member of the Big 12.
Leading 30-23 at halftime, Colorado scored the first eight points of the second half to go ahead by 15. Grant Jerrett later made a three-pointer to cut CU’s lead to just 45-39 with 11 minutes left but the Buffs turned it up again and made another eight straight points to go ahead 53-39.
From there, Colorado kept a comfortable lead the rest of the way.
The Wildcats made only 1 of 10 three-point shots in the first half while falling behind 30-23 at halftime.
Arizona, which made only 3 of 20 threes in a 64-63 loss here last season, struggled to shoot and to stop Buffaloes forward Xavier Johnson, who tore through the Wildcats for 12 points and five rebounds.
Johnson, once a UA recruiting target, had 13 points and six rebounds in UA’s overtime win over Colorado on Jan. 3 at McKale Center.
Mark Lyons and Angelo Chol each had six points to lead UA in scoring for the first half. The Wildcats went deeper than normal in their bench, with nine players getting at least four minutes each, possibly because of the high altitude.
After UA fell behind by as many as four points early, Lyons singlehandedly gave them the lead when he hit a three-pointer to pull them within 14-13, then stole the ball on Colorado’s next possession and came back for a reverse layup to put UA ahead 15-14.
The game stayed close the rest of the half, although Colorado made a late push when Askia Booker hit a three-pointer , Shane Harris-Tunks scored, and Andre Roberson threw down a dunk for the final score of the half.
The game had been a focal point for Colorado since the Jan. 3 Arizona-CU game at McKale Center, in which a would-be buzzer beating bank shot by Sabatino Chen was waved off and the Wildcats went on to win in overtime.
The Colorado student fans all wore black shirts and the game has been referenced as the “Valentines Day Massacre.”