No. 4 Arizona (24-2, 11-2) at Colorado (20-7, 9-5) • Coors Events Center • 7 p.m. • TV: ESPN • Radio: 1290-AM
- G T.J. McConnell (6-1 junior)
- G Gabe York (6-3 sophomore)
- G Nick Johnson (6-3 junior)
- F Aaron Gordon (6-9 freshman)
- C Kaleb Tarczewski (7-0 sophomore)
- G Askia Booker (6-2 junior)
- G Xavier Talton (6-2 sophomore)
- F Dustin Thomas (6-7 freshman)
- F Xavier Johnson (6-7 sophomore)
- C Josh Scott (6-10 sophomore)
HOW THEY MATCH UP
The series: Colorado leads the all-time series 11-9 but Arizona has a 4-3 edge since the Buffs joined the Pac-12 in 2011-12. Arizona jumped out to an 18-4 start on Jan. 23 at McKale Center, going on to a 69-57 win, and was 2-1 against the Buffaloes last season. However, UA has not beaten CU at Coors Events Center in Pac-12 play.
Colorado overview: Behind a three-pronged attack of center Josh Scott, forward Xavier Johnson and guard Askia Booker, the Buffs have settled into a new look without ringmaster Spencer Dinwiddie, who was lost Jan. 12 with a knee injury. Xavier Talton has taken over as the starting point guard, but Booker plays a combo guard role, while forward Wesley Gordon is coming back from an ankle sprain and could start or play heavily tonight. That could allow Johnson to play small forward, where he is especially effective.
Askia Booker: The Buffs’ junior guard used to fight inconsistency but there’s no time for that anymore. So since Dinwiddie was hurt, Booker has put up and average 17.1 points and 5.7 assists per game.
Aaron Gordon: The Wildcats survived despite having their freshman forward foul out at Utah, but they probably won’t be able to do so this time. Not with Josh Scott’s presence in the post and Colorado’s recent improvement.
HE SAID IT
“I think Josh Scott is the best offensive post player in our league, Xavier always gives us fits and Askia is a big-time scorer. It’s Booker’s team right now. He’s not sharing with Dinwiddie and he’s just taking over. Their whole offense is geared to go inside. They do a great job of fast-breaking, the No. 2 thing they do is post-up to Josh Scott and then they run a ball-screen motion offense.”
— UA assistant coach Joe Pasternack, who scouted the Buffaloes
• If the Buffaloes win tonight and CU students race all over the floor, the way ESPN analyst Digger Phelps sees it, more power to them.
And to the rest of the university.
During a media interview Friday in advance of ESPN GameDay’s Colorado appearance today, Phelps indicated he’s strongly in favor of court-storming — even as the SEC imposes tiered fines against schools whose fans do it and as Arizona is considering asking the Pac-12 to also assess a penalty because of safety concerns.
“The SEC — oh, you can’t rush the court because it’s a $25,000 fine or a $5,000 fine (for a first offense) — please,” Phelps said. “You know what you do? At your 20-year reunion you’re going to talk about it. And some student who is now a multi-, multi- millionaire says, ‘Yeah, I’m going to give $20 million for the school to build a new science department.’ Based on him rushing the floor 20 years ago. That’s what that is.”
ESPN has set up GameDay around Colorado football three times before but never for basketball. Until today.
A three-man crew of Rece Davis, Digger Phelps and Jay Williams is scheduled to handle the morning festivities at Coors Events Center, while Jalen Rose backed out because of schedule conflicts. GameDay will begin at 8 a.m. on ESPNU and continue on ESPN at 9 a.m.
Colorado coach Tad Boyle said hosting the event definitely helps in exposure but brings one concern.
“I don’t want our fans to be gassed out by 7 p.m.,” Boyle said.
A nap may be a good idea.
“The only question is will they go to bed before the show or will they get up early and come to the show?” Davis said. “I know they’ll be here either way.”
• Since the Wildcats flew to Colorado directly after their Wednesday game at Utah, they had two full days to hang out in Boulder and practice. Miller said the Wildcats had noncontact drills Thursday for a little over an hour and held a regular practice Friday at Coors Events Center.
“We’re so late in the year that the more accustomed to the environment we are, the better off we’ll be,” Miller said, saying it’s the Buffaloes more than the atmosphere that the Wildcats have to worry about Saturday. The crowd has been great “in other places we’ve been this year, too. In Utah, that was a great crowd the other night.
“So our guys are pretty much used to that. In terms of playing Colorado, they’re a really good team. We have to be at our best.”
1Colorado loss in 17 home games this season, to UCLA on Jan. 16.
13Offensive rebounds Arizona has allowed in two of its past four games (Oregon and Utah); UA was out-rebounded overall in both games.
582Career assists for former Wildcat Luke Walton, who was announced Friday as UA’s representative this year for the Pac-12 Hall of Honor. Walton is the only player in UA history to record 1,000 points, 500 rebounds and 500 assists.