By the end of the first half, No. 6 Arizona (13-1, 3-0 Pac-12) held a narrow 4-point lead over Colorado (11-4, 3-2). The Wildcats flexed their muscles in the second half and pulled away with a 76-55 win.
“I think we started the game with a good effort. And then we let our guard down a bit. And, you know, after some early successes, we were 14 in the first half, and then really we dropped our cover and we stagnated offensively and made some questionable decisions and then defensively we just lost our efforts. And then we had a good conversation at halftime, coach Tommy Lloyd commented on his team’s performance.
“The lads reacted and played a great second half, especially defensively and for us it’s no secret, I mean our defense starts our offense and we can do a couple of things in transition to kind of loosen up the game a bit . And I’m really proud of how the boys reacted to that.”
In the first half, Colorado overtook Arizona 21-17 and collected six offensive rebounds leading to seven points for the second chance. But things changed for the Wildcats in the second half as the team finished the game by overtaking the Buffaloes 44-33 and only allowing two offensive boards in the second half.
“The coach said we just have to keep our heads up. Keep our heads up and just keep playing. Because we know how Arizona plays and it’s really good to see us play and we show it in the second half . We just have it. I can’t start like that. I mean, we started well but we can’t let up, we have to be a consistent team,” Forward said Azuloas Tubelis on the team’s rebound.
Tubelis finished the game with 14 points on 54% shooting and amassed eight rebounds and two blocks.
The Wildcats’ starting lineup totaled 45 points and received a boost from the bench for that Pele Larson and JustinKier, who averaged 26 points while going 9 to 16 from the field and shooting 71% from the 3-point line.
“It just comes in and brings energy; that’s the first thing that always brings energy, no matter how the first five started, you know, just always bring energy. And that’s something, Pelle, Umar (ballo)“And I really tried that,” Kier said of the performance from the bench.
“Coming off the bench brings that bench energy, whether the starters are doing well or we just have to pick them up. So the mentality is always to bring a lot of energy and then just let the game come to me. As you guys know, I’ve been playing in college for a long time now. So I just come in and do what I have to do for the team.
We’ve seen point guard throughout the season Kerr Kriisa Having shooting nights where he goes 6 for 9 from the 3 point line and has a 20 plus point game himself.
Against Colorado, Kriisa took on a different role, more of a pass-first-point-guard style, as he only kicked the ball four times and scored two points on the night. His impact on the game was felt, however, as he had a season-high 10 assists.
“He’s played point guard all his life. And, you know, it might not be a point guard that some people are comfortable with, but I am. And I mean, he did a really good job of getting the ball moving today and finding guys for cuts and shoots, so I’m really excited for him,” Lloyd said of Kriisa’s performance.
“And hey, you know, he’s made some really aggressive plays and probably some decisions that I wish we could take back a little bit. But he and I will talk about it. I want him to be aggressive; I want him to make games for us. And you know, having 10 assists and four turnovers isn’t a bad ratio. But I also think he’s able to improve that a bit.”
The Wildcats will now face Larsson’s former team Utah (8-8, 1-5) Saturday at 6 p.m. MST on Pac-12 Networks.
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