During pregame warmups for tonight’s game between No. 9 Arizona and Colorado someone posted the score “Colorado 3, Arizona 0” on the scoreboard. That obviously is in reference to the Sabatino Chen three-pointer that was waved off at the end of regulation in Arizona’s 92-83 overtime win in the first meeting between the two teams.
The Buffaloes were fired up for the rematch and the play of Spencer Dinwiddie and Xavier Johnson played a major role in their ability to even the score.
Dinwiddie gave the Wildcats fits in ball screen situations for much of the night, finishing with 21 points and seven assists, and Johnson added 19 to go along with nine rebounds in the 71-58 victory in Boulder.
As a result of the victory the Buffaloes took a major step towards ensuring their second consecutive trip to the NCAA tournament while also keeping them within two games of first place in the Pac-12 standings.
Colorado made sure Arizona had no chance of making another improbable rally due to their execution on both ends of the floor. The Buffaloes shot 50% from the field and 9-of-17 from beyond the arc, and defensively they limited Arizona to 42.3% shooting (and 5-of-19 from three). Solomon Hill led the Wildcats with 12 points and Mark Lyons added 11, with Colorado making them work for every basket.
Xavier Johnson entered Thursday’s game averaging of 7.7 points per game, and the matchup with Arizona is a good one for the 6-6 freshman forward. In the first meeting he finished with 13 points and six rebounds, and he was even more productive in the rematch while also cutting down on the freshman mistakes that were an issue back in January.
But if this current run of six wins in their last seven games shows anything it’s the importance of Dinwiddie, who scored 25 points despite dealing with foul trouble on Sunday night to push Colorado past Oregon State. Over the last seven games Dinwiddie is averaging 16.4 points and 4.0 assists while shooting 52.6% from the field.
Players such as Johnson, Andre Roberson (seven points, 13 rebounds), Askia Booker (ten points) and Josh Scott are important cogs in the Colorado attack, but the Buffaloes will ultimately go as far as their sophomore point guard takes them.