Over a month ago, the Arizona Wildcats narrowly escaped from the claws of defeat. Arizona beat Colorado in overtime after Sabatino Chen’s banked three-pointer was called off at the end of regulation. If the shot had counted, the Buffalo would’ve upset the Wildcats for the first loss of the season. Instead, the score remained knotted at 80 until Arizona pulled away in overtime for a 92-83 victory.
The win gave Arizona confidence going forward with the season. The Wildcats have played ten games since the overtime thriller, winning seven of them and challenging for the top spot in the conference. However, Arizona is coming off a loss at home to the Cal Golden Bears, which could give the Wildcats extra incentive to come out firing on Valentine’s Day.
After having a win called off by just fingertips, Colorado began a tailspin that threatened their season. The Buffs lost three of their next four games with the only victory coming over USC, but losses coming to Arizona State, UCLA, and Washington. Colorado Head Coach Tad Boyle found a way to right the ship, though. Since the skid, the Buffalo have won five of the last six, including a sweep of the Oregon schools on the road.
One of Colorado’s biggest threats in the game will be Andre Roberson. The 6-foot-7 junior was slowed down in Tucson, but still managed to get a point away from a double-double. He scored nine points with two three-pointers and also added eleven rebounds in the game. On his own court, it will be harder for the Wildcats to stop him.
Askia Booker was the Buff that seemed to hurt Arizona the most throughout the stat sheet when the teams met in Tucson. Booker scored eighteen points, though he took seventeen shots from the field. He also dished out five assists and grabbed three rebounds. It was a solid offensive game for the sophomore, through he struggled on defense in the second half.
Another sophomore, Spencer Dinwiddie had an average game in the first matchup. He scored eleven points, but never really got going. Dinwiddie made just three baskets, but hit five free throws, boosting his scoring mark. The guard did grab five rebounds in the game and added two assists and a steal.
Josh Scott was a Buff that shot 75-percent from the field on his way to fifteen points on the night, He was a force inside, grabbing five boards, but was held back by foul trouble late in the game,
In Tucson, Xavier Johnson got the start over Chen. Johnson has only started eight games this season, but is playing starter minutes (21.7 per game). He was called on with the hope that he would counter Arizona’s forwards and came through. The freshman scored thirteen points in the game, adding another six rebounds to the team total, as well.
Chen came off the bench, but was arguably the best player on the court for Colorado in the game. He was six of ten from the field and each one of his shots seemed to come just as Arizona was making a strong push to take the lead back. Chen was also responsible for the final shot of regulation that was called off. The time on the clock ran out as the ball was deemed to be on his fingertips, sending the game to overtime.
Heading into Thursday's game, both teams are working towards goals for the remainder of the season. Arizona is playing for the conference title and a top seed in the NCAA Tournament. Colorado is also playing for an outside shot at the conference title, but is also trying to pad its resume in the hopes that it can make the tournament and avoid the NIT.
With the game coming down to the wire in Tucson, there is little doubt that the rematch in Boulder will be a good one. Arizona is coming off of its worst loss of the season and should be looking to attack early. Colorado is riding high and making a push for the postseason. It could be time for another classic.