Colorado upsets No. 2 Arizona 79-63 with strong second half

Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
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BOULDER, Colo. – K.J. Simpson and Tristan da Silva led a second-half surge that carried Colorado to a 79-63 upset of No. 2 Arizona on Saturday, matching the highest-ranked opponent ever beaten by the Buffaloes.

Fans stormed the floor after the Buffs (19-10, 11-8 Pac-12) snapped the Wildcats’ nine-game winning streak. The loss by the nation’s second-ranked team behind No. 1 Gonzaga added to a shocking Saturday in which No. 3 Auburn, No. 4 Purdue, No. 5 Kansas and No. 6 Kentucky all lost, as did No. 9 Texas Tech.

Da Silva scored 13 of his team-high 19 points in the second half and Simpson scored all but one of his 13 points after halftime.

Arizona (25-3, 15-2) led 37-32 at the break, but the Wildcats’ leading scorer, Bennedict Mathurin, was held scoreless in the second half after scoring 12 points in the first half. Azuolas Tubelis led the Wildcats with 13 points.

The Buffs held the ‘Cats scoreless over stretches of 4:27 and 3:59 in the second half to secure their biggest win since beating No. 2 Oklahoma State 57-53 on Feb. 12, 1992.

This marked the 23rd win against a ranked opponent in coach Tad Boyle’s 12 years at Colorado and the 10th different season a Boyle-led Buffs team defeated a Top 25 opponent.

The Buffs opened the second half on a 17-7 run and never looked back. Jabari Walker and Keeshawn Barthelemy each scored 15 points and Evan Batey added 11 on his senior night as all five Colorado starters scored in double figures.

Mathurin scored a dozen points in the first half, helping the Wildcats take a 37-32 lead into the locker room. He had eight points, including a pair of 3-pointers, in a 10-2 run that erased Colorado’s 16-11 lead. His breakaway dunk capped a 9-3 Arizona run that put the Wildcats ahead 33-27.

Mathurin, who came in averaging 17.3 points per game, missed all three shots he took in the second half and was whistled for a charge while driving to the basket with Arizona down 68-59 with less than four minutes remaining.

BIG PICTURE

The Wildcats sank 13 of 14 free throws in the first half but were just 5 for 8 after halftime. They also missed 10 of their 11 3-pointers in the second half after sinking 4 of 7 before halftime.

POLL IMPLICATIONS

Arizona’s reprieve might be all the other top-10 teams that lost Saturday, but this one was a blowout. Their other two losses this season were by 77-73 at No. 19 Tennessee on Dec. 22 and 75-59 at No. 7 UCLA on Jan. 25.

UP NEXT

Arizona: Visits USC on Tuesday night before hosting Stanford and Cal in a busy week to close out the regular season.

Colorado: Wraps up its conference slate at Utah next Saturday night.