No. 2 Arizona MBB got revenge against Colorado with a 10 point victory without Kriisa


Ryan Wohl

The Arizona men’s basketball team faced off against the University of Colorado Boulder Buffaloes at T-Mobile arena on Friday, March 11 in the semifinals of the Pac-12 Tournament. 

Ryan Wohl

LAS VEGAS — The Arizona men’s basketball team are one win away from their first Pac-12 Tournament Championship since 2018. The Wildcats defeated the University of Colorado Boulder Buffaloes by a score of 82-72.

Throughout the game, the Wildcats were lacking energy and passion. The player that emphasizes those things is Kerr Kriisa, and he was unable to play in the game due to a sprained ankle.

Sixth year guard Justin Kier started the game in Kriisa’s place and was excellent in the contest. He provided leadership, passing and scoring at a high level. He finished with 13 points, five rebounds and three assists.

“These guys give me the most confidence in the world, so when I get confidence from them that’s all I need,” Kier said.

Head coach Tommy Lloyd raved about what Kier means to this program.

“That’s what this program is about: growing, responding and being high character. And Justin fit’s that to a tee, and I’m just gonna see if I can petition the NCAA for seventh year of eligibility,” Lloyd said.


“I’m super proud of the guys and you know, I mean on a quick turnaround, they took a scouting report and they really hung with a game plan,” Lloyd said.

The Wildcats got off to a slow start and were down by 8 early in the game but stayed on brand and bounced back in the last 8 minutes of the first half. Azuolas Tubelis has been cold throughout the past four games but looked like his normal self against the Buffaloes. He scored 20 points on 9-14 shooting and appeared to mirror Christian Koloko’s performance against Stanford.

Arizona was excellent tonight shooting the ball, finishing the game 52% (26-50) from the field, 40% (6-15) on 3-point shots and a near perfect 96% (24-25) from the free-throw line.

Colorado cut Arizona’s lead to only 1 point halfway through the second half but that didn’t last long. This brought Wildcat fans to their feet and made it feel like you’re in McKale Center.

With just under 10 minutes left in the game, Oumar Ballo dunked and it felt like the roof of the building might come off. Ballo scored 10 points and brought a much needed energy boost in the second half.


Dalen Terry hit a wide open three-pointer at the 7 minute mark to give Arizona a 7 point lead. Along with the 12 points he scored in the contest, Terry added four rebounds, three assists and three steals to the stat sheet.

“[Terry’s] a high character guy and I’m the least bit surprised that he stepped up and made those two threes down the stretch,” Lloyd said.

Tubelis, Bennedict Mathurin, Kier and Koloko all played over 30 minutes tonight because Lloyd shortened the rotation because of Kriisa being out. Pelle Larrson and Ballo were the only two players to come off the bench and receive over 10 minutes of playing time. Adama Bal made a brief appearance in the game for only a minute.

Jabari Walker led the Buffaloes in scoring with 19 points while making five 3-pointers, but he picked up his forth foul early in the second forcing him to be on the bench.

Lloyd got emotional during the post-game press conference when talking about his coaching staff.

“I want to give my staff a ton of credit. We did a lot of things out there that traditionally I’m not very comfortable with today, and those almost get me emotional thinking about what those guys mean to me, but they had some great ideas and we hung with it,” Lloyd said. “I mean our staff, the care factor is off the charts, so you know for those guys to talk me into what we did today, I mean, they deserve a lot of credit because I can be pretty hard headed sometimes.”

The Wildcats did their best in this game to erase what happened to them in Boulder, Colorado a few weeks when they lost by 16 points.

Coach Lloyd provided an update on point guard Kriisa’s ankle injury after the game.

“He’s got a sprained ankle and we got a great training staff and I don’t think the severity of it is, you know, I think playing him playing next week is a real possibility,” Lloyd said. “I mean, we’re just going to take day by day but I think everything, all the major stuff checked out okay, and now it’s just a matter of attacking it.”

The Wildcats will wait and see who their opponent will be in tomorrow’s Pac-12 Tournament Championship game. They will face the winner of tonight’s UCLA vs. USC matchup on Fox at 6 p.m. PST tomorrow night. During the regular season, Arizona was 1-1 versus UCLA and 2-0 against USC.

Editor’s note: This story will be updated with quotes from the post-game press conference 

Follow Ryan Wohl on Twitter