Tad Boyle

Arizona center Kaleb Tarczewski, left, drives around Colorado forward Josh Scott during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in the quarterfinal round of the Pac-12 men's tournament Thursday, March 10, 2016, in Las Vegas. Arizona won 82-78. (AP Photo/John Locher)
AP Photo/John Locher

No. 15 Arizona holds on to beat Colorado 82-78 at Pac-12


LAS VEGAS (AP) Arizona played a near-flawless first half, pouring in shots, shutting Colorado down, threatening to turn the Pac-12 Tournament quarterfinal into a blowout.

The momentum shifted dramatically in the second half as the Wildcats let up and the Buffaloes erased nearly all of a 22-point deficit.

The Wildcats held on to move on to the semifinals, but it was much harder than it needed to be.

Allonzo Trier scored 23 points, Ryan Anderson had 17 points and 11 rebounds, and No. 15 Arizona held off Colorado 82-78 on Thursday.

“I guess if you’re the coach, you can look at it this way: Hey, everything’s fine. We’re in the semifinals against Oregon. Awesome job. We advanced. A lot of teams would have loved to,” Arizona coach Sean Miller said. “Or you can really say our effort level is as bad as I’ve ever seen in the last 20 minutes. I choose to focus on the second one.”

Arizona (25-7) has been plagued by inconsistency, only playing well for a half in many of its games.

Most games, the Wildcats struggle early and wear teams down late.

This time, they almost got run over.

Up 17 at halftime, Arizona watched as the Buffaloes raced past them for one offensive rebound after another – 25 in all – to chip away at the lead.

Colorado had the Wildcats on their heels and were within reach, pulling within two on George King’s 3-pointer with 3 seconds left.

Arizona managed to escape, pushing the lead to four on Gabe York’s two free throws, but will need to play a full game if it’s going to beat No. 8 Oregon in the semifinals Friday night.

“If you hold our team to the standards of the past at Arizona or you look at us as competing for this tournament’s championship, we’re not going to be able to advance and be the same team that we’ve been,” Miller said of his team only playing well for one half.

Colorado (22-11) clawed its way back from a huge hole by hitting the offensive glass, but couldn’t overcome its shaky shooting. The fifth-seeded Buffaloes shot 34 percent and made 5 of 19 from 3-point range, leaving their NCAA Tournament fate in the hands of the selection committee.

King had 22 points, and Josh Scott finished with 16 points and 13 rebounds for Colorado, which had 26 second-chance points.

“The one thing about our team is there is no give-up,” Colorado coach Tad Boyle said. “They’ve got tremendous fight, tremendous resolve and I’m really proud of the comeback that we staged to get ourselves back in the game.”

Colorado opened the tournament with a dominating performance, beating Washington State 80-56 behind King’s 21-point night.

That earned the Buffaloes a shot at the Wildcats, who were itching for a rematch after losing in Boulder on Feb. 24.

Arizona rallied from a 10-point, second-half deficit in that game, but couldn’t make the plays down the stretch or stop Scott, who had a season-high 26 points.

The Wildcats turned the rematch into a rout from the opening tip.

Smothering the Buffaloes defensively, Arizona set up easy baskets in transition while opening with a 14-2 run, setting off a chant of “U of A!”

The Wildcats kept it rolling, building a 37-20 halftime lead York’s 11 points.

Colorado had more turnovers than field goals – nine to eight – and missed all six of its 3-point attempts.

“Our guys were down. They were disappointed,” Boyle said. “But, again, there is no quit in these guys. There wasn’t any question in my mind.”

He was right.

The Buffaloes found their rhythm a bit in the second half, gaining a surge a momentum midway through while cutting into Arizona’s lead.

Trier stemmed the tide briefly with a couple of athletic shots in transition, but Colorado fought back one more time, pulling to 64-57 on Scott’s three-point play with 5 minutes left.

The Buffaloes kept clawing back every time Arizona tried to pull away, but couldn’t make it all the way back, finishing just short.


Colorado: The Buffaloes had a 51-35 rebounding advantage. .. Colorado made 21 of 25 free throws.

Arizona: The Wildcats blocked 11 shots, including three by Anderson. … York finished with 15 points and Kadeem Allen had 12.


Colorado has to wait until Sunday to find out if it will play in the NCAA Tournament.

Arizona faces No. 8 Oregon in the semifinals Friday night.

Colorado small forward hoping to benefit from redshirting in 2014-15

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To say that Colorado’s 2014-15 season was a disappointing one would be accurate. Picked to finish third in the Pac-12 preseason poll, the Buffaloes struggled throughout the season and finished with a record of 16-18. With Askia Booker moving on Tad Boyle’s team needs to account for the loss of its leading scorer, and the season-ending Achilles injury suffered by Xavier Johnson doesn’t help matters as Colorado looks to rebound from last season.

One of the players who will look to step forward alongside senior big man Josh Scott is redshirt sophomore George King, who was incapable of doing anything to help Colorado on the court in 2014-15. Boyle made the decision to redshirt King in hopes that the season spent working on his game without losing a year of eligibility would benefit both player and program in the long run.

And in a story by Brian Howell of the Boulder Daily Camera, King discussed how he looked to use the redshirt season to his benefit.

“The biggest thing for me was embracing it and not taking it as, ‘I’m not that good,’ ” King said. “I took it and used it as an opportunity.

“It looked like I was just sitting on the bench in the games but I was learning a lot. Obviously, practices were my games, and I worked out twice as much as the guys did, because game day was their day off (from workouts), and I was in the gym, lifting and on the court shooting.”

With Booker out of eligibility and Jaron Hopkins transferring, there’s clearly room for other perimeter options to step forward. Xavier Talton returns for his senior season, with Dominique Collier being a player many expect to be improved as a sophomore and former Providence guard Josh Fortune among the other possibilities. And with the incumbent at the three (Johnson) due to miss the entire season, Colorado will need production from Tre’Shaun Fletcher and King if they’re to rebound from a disappointing 2014-15.

Redshirt seasons have benefitted a number of players throughout college basketball, with one of the most recent examples being Gonzaga’s Kyle Wiltjer. While King isn’t the same player as Wiltjer, the hope in Boulder is that his hard work away from game action will pay off in 2015-16.

Melo Trimble, Ron Baker among 12 named to United States Pan-American Games team

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Sunday afternoon USA Basketball revealed the 12 players who will represent the country at this month’s Pan-American Games in Toronto, with the team being a mix of current collegians and professional players. Among those who survived the cut from 16 to 12 were Maryland point guard Melo Trimble and Wichita State shooting guard Ron Baker, who will be two of the top players in the country at their respective positions this coming college season.

Joining Trimble and Baker as collegians on the roster are Virginia guard Malcolm Brogdon, University of Louisiana forward Shawn Long, Baylor forward Taurean Prince, Arizona center Kaleb Tarczewski and Michigan State guard Denzel Valentine. That group will be joined by five players who are currently playing at the professional level overseas or in the NBA in guard Bobby Brown, center Ryan Hollins, guard Keith Langford, forward Anthony Randolph and guard Damien Wilkins.

Serving as head coach is Gonzaga’s Mark Few, with Colorado head coach Tad Boyle and former NBA head coach Mike Brown being his assistants.

“It’s a group of hard-working guys who have done a great job in camp of really playing together and being unselfish,” Few said in the release. “They came into camp with a great attitude and mindset to really work, and now we’ve got to start formulating and playing to our strengths.  This is a group that’s got some versatility, and I think we should be able to play a couple different ways.”

Beginning Monday the team will train at the Chicago Bulls’ practice facility until the 16th, heading north of the border following that for games that begin Tuesday, July 21. In group play (Group B) the United States will play games against Venezuela, Puerto Rico and Brazil, with the top two teams in each group advancing into the semifinals.

The four teams in Group A are hosts Canada (which will suit up a team that includes Anthony Bennett and Kentucky freshman Jamal Murray), Argentina, Dominican Republic and Mexico.

Monitoring physicality as important as the shot clock in increasing offensive production

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With the men’s college basketball rules committee proposing a host of changes in hopes of increasing scoring earlier this month, the move that attracted the most attention was their recommendation to trim the shot clock from 35 to 30 seconds. However, while having five fewer seconds to attempt a shot does increase the likelihood of more possessions in a game it doesn’t not guarantee more points on the scoreboard.

One coach who isn’t in favor of the move is Colorado head coach Tad Boyle, who discussed the matter with Brian Howell of the Boulder Daily Camera. Boyle also touched on another key in college basketball, which in recent years has been decried as being too physical by some. If people want to see more points scored, ensuring that freedom of movement initiatives are not only enacted but enforced by officials needs to occur as well.

“No, I think it’s a very exciting game. If they want to increase scoring, they just have to take away the physical play and the game has to be officiated differently and it has to be officiated more consistently. You could make an argument that the college game is more physical than the pro game, because of the way it’s officiated and what you’re allowed to get away with and what you’re not. The defensive rules that the NBA has put in place, if we ever get to that, that’s when you’re going to see scoring really take off.”

The fact that the rules committee is looking to make improvements is a good thing, even if some don’t agree with the measures they’ve proposed. But if there’s to be any lasting impact, consistent officiating in regards to the physicality of the game is key.

While some conferences are sticklers for “strategies” such as bumping cutters, others aren’t as strict in enforcing freedom of movement. It should be noted that in college basketball, officials are essentially independent contractors who can be work for any conference that asks them to work games, which is why some have schedules that result in them calling five or six games in a week.

There have been attempts to make sure that officiating is more consistent across the country, but with a setup unlike that of the NBA (unionized officials, and there are only 30 teams as opposed to 351 at the Division I level) that’s a task far easier said than done.

Colorado senior guard to sit out team’s CBI appearance

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While the NCAA tournament receives the lion’s share of the attention (and rightfully so), there are four postseason tournaments in college basketball. One of those is the CBI, a 16-team event that certainly flies under the radar and home teams have to pay to host games. One of the teams playing in this year’s CBI is Colorado, which will host Gardner-Webb despite having a losing record on the season.

And the Buffaloes will be without two members of their rotation, as sophomore forward Dustin Thomas has elected to transfer and senior guard Askia Booker has decided to not participate. The Buffaloes open CBI play with a home game against Gardner-Webb Wednesday night.

News of Booker’s decision was first reported by Brian Howell of the Boulder Daily Camera Sunday evening.

“That’s his choice,” Colorado head coach Tad Boyle said. “I accept it and we’re going to move forward. It’s an opportunity for other guys to step up and show what they can do and improve themselves and hopefully do it over a period of time.”

Boyle didn’t give a reason for Booker’s decision, but it’s been well documented that the 6-foot-2 guard has been playing with sore hips the past few weeks. Booker also has aspirations of playing professionally, so this may be an opportunity for him to rest up before training for a possible pro career.

Taking into consideration Booker’s recent health issues, the decision makes some sense. And with all due respect to the CBI, it’s very difficult to see this decision being made had the Buffaloes played well enough to land in a more prestigious postseason event.

Booker is the lone scholarship senior on this year’s team, so playing without him will give the guards who are expected to be back next season (most notably freshman Dominique Collier) additional time on the court. Colorado played a little less than half of last season without Spencer Dinwiddie, who tore his ACL in a game at Washington, but that experience did not help this year’s team with injuries and inconsistency among the issues.

Both Xavier Johnson and Josh Scott missed time this season, and they’ll be key pieces for Colorado in 2015-16.

Colorado to be without two starters Thursday night at No. 10 Arizona

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After suffering their worst loss of the season last Tuesday, Colorado enters its two-game road swing through Arizona with a 9-6 overall record (2-1 Pac-12) in need of some positive momentum. Unfortunately for head coach Tad Boyle his team isn’t at full strength ahead of their game at No. 10 Arizona, with juniors Josh Scott (back spasms) and Xavier Johnson (right high ankle sprain) both dealing with health issues.

And according to a report from Jeff Goodman of ESPN.com, neither will play Thursday night against the Wildcats.

Scott (13.8 ppg, 7.2 rpg, 2.0 bpg) missed Colorado’s conference-opening games against UCLA and USC as a result of the back spasms and was a shell of himself in the Buffaloes’ 74-49 loss at No. 9 Utah last Tuesday, scoring three points and grabbing two rebounds in 28 minutes of action.

Johnson (12.8, 5.4), who is third on the team in both scoring and rebounding, suffered his ankle injury on a shot attempt in the first half of that loss to Utah.

Without Scott and Johnson the Buffaloes won’t have much in the way of front court depth against the Wildcats, with second-leading rebounder Wesley Gordon remaining in his starting role and reserves such as Dustin Thomas and Tory Miller now needed to step forward.