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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

No. 10 Arizona MBB returns home to face Colorado eager for a fresh start to 2024

The+Arizona+mens+basketball+bench+celebrate+after+Pelle+Larsson+makes+a+3-pointer+against+Southern+University+in+McKale+Center+on+Monday%2C+Nov.+13.+The+Wildcats+have+won+the+first+three+games+of+the+season.
Giacomo Cain
The Arizona men’s basketball bench celebrate after Pelle Larsson makes a 3-pointer against Southern University in McKale Center on Monday, Nov. 13. The Wildcats have won the first three games of the season.

The No. 10 Arizona men’s basketball team returns to McKale Center for the first time since early December to face the University of Colorado on Thursday, Jan. 4 at 7:30 p.m. The Wildcats (10-3) are looking to rebound after suffering an 18-point road upset against Stanford University on Dec. 31. Arizona opened the season 8-0 but is 2-3 over its last five games and is set to face a surging Colorado team that has won six in a row.

History vs. Colorado:

Thursday’s matchup will be the 38th meeting between the two programs. The Wildcats currently hold a 22-15 lead in the series, including a two-game winning streak. Arizona is 15-4 at home against Colorado and is unbeaten in their last 12 meetings in Tucson. The last time the Buffaloes defeated the Wildcats in Tucson, Arizona was still playing inside the Bear Down Gym. Their last victory came on Dec. 20, 1965, when Colorado defeated the Wildcats 77-73 in 3OT.

Colorado players to watch:

The head coach of Colorado, Tad Boyle, leads the Buffaloes in his 14th season at the helm. Boyle boasts a 283-174 record, leading Colorado to five NCAA Tournaments and nine seasons with 20 or more wins.

The Buffaloes (11-2) reached a high of No. 18 in the country by mid-November after opening the season 4-0. However, narrow losses against Florida State University and Colorado State University to close out the month of November resulted in the Buffaloes slipping outside the top 25. Since their two early-season defeats, Colorado has been trending upward, winning six straight, including a dominant victory over No. 15 University of Miami last month.

KJ Simpson

The junior guard has been fantastic all season for the Buffaloes, leading the team in scoring, assists and steals. Simpson averages 21.1 points (11th in the country), 4.5 assists and 2.1 steals per game. In Colorado’s most recent game against Washington State University, Simpson scored a career-high 34 points to help lift the Buffaloes past Washington State.

Tristan Da Silva

The senior forward missed Colorado’s most recent games due to an ankle injury but could be available against Arizona. Da Silva ranks second on the team in scoring, averaging 15.7 points and 5.4 rebounds per game.

Eddie Lampkin Jr.

Lampkin spent his previous three seasons at TCU before transferring to Colorado. In his first season with the team, Lampkin is averaging 9.4 points and a team-high 7.7 rebounds per game. Some early-season struggles plagued Lampkin, but over the last two weeks, he has begun to find his rhythm. Over the Buffaloes’ last four games, Lampkin has averaged 13.3 points and 9.5 rebounds per game.

Wildcats to watch:

The Wildcats’ offense has been one of the best in the country, averaging 92.3 points per game, which ranks second in the country. Additionally, Arizona ranks fourth with 44.2 rebounds per game and sixth with 19.8 assists per game. Amid their recent struggles, the Wildcats still have all five of the Wildcats’ starters averaging double figures.

Caleb Love

Love has been the leading force of the Arizona offense. The University of North Carolina transfer leads the team in scoring averaging, 17.4 points and 3.2 assists per game. Over the Wildcat’s last six games, Love is averaging 22.2 points and 5.3 rebounds per game. While his performance has stepped up, the rest of the guards have struggled to deliver.

Oumar Ballo

The senior ranks second on the team in scoring, averaging 13.2 points and a team-high 8.2 rebounds per game. Over Arizona’s last four games, Ballo has recorded three double-doubles and is averaging 14.5 points and 12.8 rebounds per game. However, his main struggles have come from the free-throw line, as he is shooting a career-low 45.8%.

Pelle Larsson

Larsson is averaging 12.1 points and 3.5 assists per game, both of which are career highs. Additionally, Larsson is shooting a career-high 54.3% from the field. However, over Arizona’s last two games, Larsson is shooting an abysmal 31.3% from the field.

Kylan Boswell

Boswell got off to a hot start to open the season, averaging 13.5 points and 3.8 assists per game and shot 55.8% from the field in the month of November. However, Boswell was plagued by shooting struggles throughout the month of December. The sophomore guard averaged 8.7 points per game and shot a meager 24-72 (32.4%) from the field. During Arizona’s recent loss against Stanford, Boswell was 2-11 from the field and scored a season-low five points. Boswell will need to step up his play as the calendar flips from 2023 to 2024.


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