A wacky win
There was a palpable energy coming from the Arizona student section, the Zona Zoo, on Thursday night at McKale Center in the Wildcats’ 69-57 win over visiting Colorado.
Maybe it’s because it’s getting wackier and wackier.
The big heads were out in full form against the Buffaloes, with Ben Stiller’s “Dodgeball” character and “Family Guy’s” Quagmire and “Lord of the Rings’” Gollum joining the cast of player cutouts.
But what started as a basketball game ended up as a costume party, as several students dressed up for the evening, including the usual Gumby, Bear Down Bear, superheroes, and even a Lego head.
Travis Parker, an Arizona student from Santa Rosa, Calif., took a typical Legos children’s bucket, survived trying to burn the bottom off, eventually figured out how to drill through layer-by-layer, and eventually started something that could be a national craze.
“I love the bear costume,” Parker said. “It’s perfect – I’ve seen it on a Pac-12 commercial – but I’d love to make this a thing. I’d love to do this.”
Parker said the team’s program-best start has students excited like never before, at least during his brief tenure.
“It’s just been fantastic,” Parker said. “The fact we can say we’re going to a school that’s No. 1 is tremendous. Last year, there wasn’t that much hype – now that there is, it’s some of the best moments of my life.”
Once again, Aaron Gordon turned the McKale Center floor into his personal trampoline.
Gordon had dunk after dunk on Thursday night, five in total, including a beautiful reverse dunk that brought raves on Twitter, including from ESPN’s Sportscenter account.
“Arizona freshman phenom Aaron Gordon making his bid for the #SCtop10 with this reverse jam in traffic,” @SportsCenter tweeted.
There was a gaping hole on the Colorado bench on Thursday night.
That is, if Spencer Dinwiddie would’ve actually sat for any minutes for the Buffaloes.
Colorado’s do-everything point guard skipped the team’s Arizona swing after having knee surgery for a torn ACL on Monday. A candidate for conference player of the year honors, Dinwiddie was injured – along with teammate Tre’Shaun Fletcher – in a loss to Washington on Jan. 12.
“I think the guys understand now that he’s not here; Fletch isn’t here,” Colorado coach Tad Boyle told the Denver Post. “I think we’re past that mental hurdle. The shock value has worn off.”
X-ing out his niche
Colorado sophomore Xavier Johnson had yet another impressive outing against Arizona, and he said it’s because they bring the best out of him. Johnson, who had 13 and 19 points in two games against the Wildcats last year, had 21 on Thursday, including 4 of 5 from three-point range.
“I don’t like Arizona and they don’t like me,” Johnson said. “I’m aggressive every game but there’s something about them that just sparks my engine.”
Tweet of the night
“Nowhere else in the nation will you see the crowd on its feet for the defense when you already have a 20-point lead.” – @iKick_(Arizona kicker Jake Smith)
29.6 The Arizona defense might as well be called a noose, because it’s simply suffocating opponents. The Wildcats jumped to an 18-4 lead over the Buffaloes and eventually held Colorado to just 29.6 percent shooting in the first half as they claimed a 15-point halftime lead.
Bill Walton tweet of the Night
“Dave Pasch to Bill Walton, in Tucson: “You OK? You’ve gone one half without mentioning Linda Ronstadt.” #ThrowItDown” — @PatrickFinley (former Daily Star sportswriter)