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

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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.

Florida State beats Colorado, reaches 3rd straight Sweet 16

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INDIANAPOLIS — Florida State barely reveled in its return to the Sweet 16 – exactly as Seminoles coach Leonard Hamilton wanted.

Anthony Polite scored a career-high 22 points and No. 4 seed Florida State pulled away in the second half to beat Colorado 71-53 Monday night and advance to the regional semifinal for the third straight NCAA Tournament.

“These guys are pretty focused,” Hamilton said. “An indication is that nobody was jumping up and down and high-fiving and getting overly excited in the locker room. Everybody was calm, focused – like we’ve been here before. That’s the signs of a team maturing.”

Florida State (18-6) advanced to face East region No. 1 seed Michigan, which knocked out the Seminoles in the 2018 Elite Eight.

Polite had never scored more than 15 points in a game, but the junior made 8 of 12 shots, including 4 of 7 3-pointers.

“It’s probably my best game, definitely, statistics-wise,” Polite said. “I feel like I’m going to keep giving my effort at 100%, keep on coming out with a defensive mentality. Seeing the shots go in is just going to boost my confidence.”

Hamilton – recovering from a ruptured Achilles tendon – again wore a boot as he walked the sideline. His Seminoles shot 53% from the field.

D’Shawn Schwartz scored 13 points for fifth-seeded Colorado (23-9), which shot 36% overall. McKinley Wright IV, Colorado’s leading scorer for the season with more than 15 points per contest, finished with 10 on 4-of-12 shooting.

Colorado was coming off a 96-73 victory over Big East Tournament champion Georgetown and was seeking its first Sweet 16 trip since 1969.

“We just lost the season we had, which was such a special season with such special young men in that locker room,” Colorado coach Tad Boyle said. “Seven unbelievable seniors. The most connected and one of the closest groups I’ve ever coaches.”

The Buffaloes shot poorly through most of the first half and trailed 20-13 two minutes before the break. Wright’s tip-in at the buzzer cut Florida State’s lead to 24-20 at the half. It was only his second basket of the game.

Colorado trimmed its deficit to a point on a 3-pointer by Schwartz, but Florida State quickly answered with a thunderous alley-oop dunk by Sardaar Calhoun.

Calhoun broke away for a fast-break dunk, then Scottie Barnes drained a contested runner to push Florida State’s lead back to seven.

Minutes later, Balsa Koprivica dunked, was fouled and made the free throw to put Florida State up nine.

Polite hit his fourth 3-pointer of the game with six minutes remaining to put the Seminoles up 55-41. Colorado called a timeout, prompting Florida State’s fans to break into an “F-S-U” chant. Colorado’s fans booed the officials, who had called a technical on the Buffaloes bench minutes earlier.

Florida State remained in control, stretching its lead to 19 points.

“We had to be locked in, not foul, contest shots, and that took a tremendous effort and a high level of concentration by our team,” Hamilton said. “That’s why I was so proud that they continued to keep executing what we had in that game plan, even when they cut the lead right down to one point.”

BOULDER TRAGEDY

Boyle called a shooting Monday in Boulder, Colorado, a “senseless act of violence” and offered condolences to families affected after the game. The team spoke postgame in the locker room about the supermarket shooting in the city where the school is located. Ten people were killed, including a police officer, and a suspect was in custody, authorities said.

“It puts basketball in its proper place,” Boyle said. “Win or lose tonight, I felt an emptiness in my stomach. Another senseless act of violence that we’ve experienced as a country many, many times.

“Even if we would have won this game and celebrated going to the Sweet 16, it would have put a damper on it,” he added. “My heart goes out to the families that were affected and those that lost their lives.”

FREE THROW RECORD

Colorado fell short of breaking the Division I single-season record for free throw percentage. Harvard in 1984 shot 82.18% from the line. Colorado finished this season at 81.87% and would have set the record if not for two misses in the final minute.

Oral Roberts still could top Harvard. ORU is at 82.19% heading into its Sweet 16 matchup with Arkansas.

QUOTABLE

Hamilton, on handling success: “Now is not the time to take any bows. It’s kind of what we are. If we are satisfied with where we are now, then I guess we can pack our bags and go home.”

Hoyas history; Colorado uses threes to dismiss Georgetown 96-73

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INDIANAPOLIS – Chances are, you can fit Colorado’s entire NCAA Tournament history on the back of an old Patrick Ewing jersey. And now Ewing is part of that history, too.

The Buffaloes used an early 3-point barrage to parlay their highest seeding ever at March Madness into a first-round win Saturday over one of the biggest names in the game – a 96-73 thumping of Georgetown, the program Ewing starred for in the 1980s and now coaches.

Led by freshman Jabari Walker’s 5-for-5 shooting clinic from 3-point range, the fifth-seeded Buffs (23-8) made 16 3-pointers and shot 64% from long range.

Walker missed only one of his 10 shots on his way to a career-best 24 points, and D’Shawn Schwartz (18 points) made four of his five 3s in the first half to put Colorado into cruise control. The Buffs made the round of 32 for only the third time since the brackets expanded to 64 teams in 1985.

Georgetown won four games in four days earlier this month to take the Big East Tournament title and make a surprise trip to the NCAA Tournament. But the Hoyas finished 13-13 on the season, three weeks of which was interrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic, and they didn’t look like a .500 team at any point Saturday.

The 7-foot Ewing did what he could – stalking the sideline in khakis and light-blue tennis shoes, pulling down the mask and shouting instructions while the game, and the season, slipped away.

But one of college basketball’s most dominating presences in the `80s could not make any shots – Georgetown went 30% from the floor in the first half and big man Qudus Wahab (7 for 12 for 20 points) was the only player with any sort of touch. And Ewing’s team could not defend the perimeter, which is where Colorado went crazy.

Walker, the freshman from California, made four of his 3s in the first half to help CU open a double-digit lead. At the end of the half, Schwartz made three straight 3s to help the Buffs double up (plus one) on Georgetown – 47-23 – heading into the locker room.

And now, people might starting seeing CU’s pedigree in a different light.

After years in nowhere-land, the Buffs are showing they can recruit in California, play with Arizona and Oregon, and even knock off a big name like Georgetown. They’ve won 20 games in eight of coach Tad Boyle’s 11 seasons and five of their seven modern-day appearances in the tournament have come since he arrived.

TAKE A BREAK

About the only thing that could stop Walker’s first-half streak was Walker himself. He was called for a flagrant-one foul when he took down Georgetown big man Timothy Ighoefe by the neck while Ighoefe was going up for what looked like an easy bucket. Boyle benched Walker at the 7:19 mark of the first half and the freshman didn’t score again until the 13:25 mark in the second.

PRESSURE ON?

By making the surprise trip to the tournament, Ewing alleviated some of the heat he was starting to feel back home. Still, this loss wasn’t pretty, and it leaves him without a NCAA or NIT victory since he arrived in 2017. It dropped his overall record to 62-59 – hardly a mark that would’ve cut it back in the glory days.

NEXT UP

Colorado will play the winner of Florida State-UNC Greensboro, in search of its first Sweet 16 trip since 1969.

Georgetown has only two seniors on the roster, but one of them is Jomorko Pickett, who was held to 11 points on 3-for-13 shooting.

Oregon State beats No. 23 Colorado 70-68 for first title

Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports
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LAS VEGAS — Wayne Tinkle shuffled across toward the sideline, the streamers wrapped around his ankles creating a confetti wake. Remnants from a cut-down net dangled around his neck as the Oregon State coach heaved the game ball into the stands.

On the receiving end was his son and former player, Tres, sitting among other family members.

All those years of building, the ups and downs of a pandemic-altered season, and the Beavers were finally champions.

Picked to finish last, Oregon State is a conference champion for the first time, winning the Pac-12 Tournament title by holding off No. 23 Colorado 70-68 Saturday night.

“This has been the most emotional year in my life and probably for all of us,” Tinkle said. “It’s just incredible that we have gotten to this level and we know why we have. It’s a pretty neat deal.”

Needing three wins in three days to end a four-year NCAA Tournament drought, the Beavers (17-12) built confidence with each step along The Strip.

Oregon State opened its first conference title game in 33 years with a flurry of 3-pointers and withstood a late push by Colorado (22-8) to become the first Pac-10/12 team to win the conference title after being picked to finish last.

Maurice Calloo gave the Beavers a huge boost with leading scorer Ethan Thompson in foul trouble, scoring 15 points after managing 10 the eight previous games combined.

“We have been through a lot of ups and downs as a team and we were able to overcome it,” Calloo said. “Today it shows that when we stick together we can achieve anything.”

Oregon State’s gritty display put a damper on Colorado’s bid for its first Pac-12 Tournament title since 2012. The Buffaloes should hear their named get called on Selection Sunday, but Pac-12 champions would have had a nicer ring to it heading to Indianapolis.

Colorado pulled within 68-66 on McKinley Wright IV’s 3-pointer with 5.8 seconds left and had a chance when Oregon State’s Roman Silva hit 1 of 2 free throws. Wright’s halfcourt heave sailed over the backboard, sending the Beavers charging onto the floor.

Wright led Colorado with 18 points.

“We came here to win a championship and we came up short,” Colorado coach Tad Boyle said. “They played better than we did tonight. We just weren’t good enough.”

The underdog Beavers were given little shot outside of Corvallis, overlooked, underappreciated and picked to look up at the rest of the league.

Tinkle promised his team wouldn’t finish last and they proved him right, entering the conference tournament as the No. 6 seed. The Beavers clawed their way out of a 16-point hole to beat UCLA in the conference tournament opener and upended top-seeded Oregon in the semifinals.

Oregon State opened the title game with a 3-point spree, hitting six of its first nine and had an early nine-point lead. A cooling trend followed, yet the Beavers still made half their shots for 33-28 halftime lead.

Oregon State kept making shots – mostly inside – and survived a six-minute stretch with Thompson on the bench to stay in front. The Beavers had some tense moments late, but can call themselves conference tournament champions for the first time.

“When you’re patient, when you stay together, when you roll with the punches, eventually this is what it leads to and we have proven that,” Tinkle said.

Colorado was picked to finish seventh in the preseason poll despite the return of Wright, one of the toughest, steadiest guards in college basketball.

Behind Wright and big man Evan Battey, Colorado finished third in the Pac-12, then had a pair of down-to-the-wire wins over California and No. 23 USC in the conference tournament.

The Buffaloes had a hard time slowing the Beavers in the title game, but also hit half their shots (13 of 26) to stay within reach at halftime.

Wright helped keep Colorado within reach down to the wire, but the Buffalos made too many mistakes down the stretch and came up one shot short.

“Collectively, probably we were playing a little uptight and we just failed on some of those turnovers and bad shots,” said Battey, who had 16 points.

BIG PICTURE

Oregon State completed an unexpected run to its first conference title with confident game against one of the Pac-12’s best defensive teams.

The Buffaloes kept hanging around after falling behind early and nearly pulled off the comeback.

CALLOO’S LIFT

Calloo had a breakout game when Oregon State needed it most.

The 6-foot-10 junior was a starter early in the season, but had been mostly a complementary player during the Pac-12 season.

With Thompson limited to seven points, Calloo helped push the Beavers the lead and hit 6 of 11 shots overall.

“It’s not easy when you go somewhere because you want to be a big part of it, but to his credit he never went south on us,” Tinkle said “He continued to work to try to get better every day.”

UP NEXT

Oregon State will play in the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2016.

Colorado also should get an NCAA Tournament nod.

Duarte voted Pac-12 player of year, Mobley is the newcomer

Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports
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Oregon’s Chris Duarte is The Associated Press player of the year in the Pac-12 Conference and Southern California’s Evan Mobley is the newcomer of the year.

Southern California’s Andy Enfield was chosen as Pac-12 coach of the year by a panel of writers who cover the conference. Results of the voting were released Tuesday.

Duarte, a senior guard from the Dominican Republic, was the Pac-12’s third-leading scorer at 17.3 points per game while leading the Ducks to their second straight Pac-12 regular-season title. He also averaged 4.8 rebounds, 2.2 assists and 1.9 steals per game.

Mobley was a dominant force during his freshman year, averaging 16.1 points per game while leading the Pac-12 with 8.4 rebounds per game. The 7-footer also led the conference with 2.8 blocked shots per game and was third in shooting percentage at 58%.

Enfield’s team had been picked to finish sixth in the Pac-12 but he brought USC to within a half-game of its first regular-season title since 1985. Led by Mobley, the Trojans finished the regular season 21-6 and were 15-5 in Pac-12 play.

The 2021 AP All-Pac-12 team, with players listed alphabetically with name, school, height, weight, class and hometown (“u-” denotes unanimous selections):

FIRST TEAM

u-Chris Duarte, Oregon, 6-6, 190, Sr, Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic

u-Evan Mobley, USC, 7-0, 215, Fr, Murrieta, California

u-McKinley Wright IV, Colorado, 6-0, 196, Sr, North Robbinsdale, Minnesota

Remy Martin, Arizona State, 6-0, 175, Sr, Chatsworth, California

Oscar da Silva, Stanford, 6-9, 230, Sr, Munich, Germany

SECOND TEAM

James Akinjo, Arizona, 6-1, 185, Jr, Oakland, California

Timmy Allen, Utah, 6-6, 205, Jr, Mesa, Arizona

Ethan Thompson, Oregon State, 6-5, 195, Sr, Los Angeles

Eugene Omoruyi, Oregon, 6-6, 235, Sr, Rexdale, Ontario

Isaac Bonton, Washington State, 6-3, 190, Sr, Portland, Oregon

Coach of the year – Andy Enfield, Southern California

Player of the year – Chris Duarte, Oregon

Newcomer of the year – Evan Mobley, Southern California

New Mexico coach Paul Weir stepping down at end of season

Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports
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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – Paul Weir is stepping down as New Mexico’s basketball coach at the end of the season.

In a statement posted on the program’s website, athletic director Eddie Nunez said the school and Weir mutually agreed to part ways after the season.

The Lobos (6-14, 2-14 Mountain West) will play their regular-season finale at Colorado and take part in the Mountain West Tournament in Las Vegas, starting March 10.

Weir is in his fourth season as coach of New Mexico. He has a 58-61 overall record with the Lobos, including a pair of 19-win seasons.