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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Column: Wildcats rout Buffaloes 82-54 on road

Sophomore+guard+Jaron+Hopkins+lobs+the+ball+toward+the+basket%2C+it+is+blocked+by+Wildcat+foward+Rondae+Hollis-Jefferson.+%28Nigel+Amstock%2FCU+Independent%29+
Sophomore guard Jaron Hopkins lobs the ball toward the basket, it is blocked by Wildcat foward Rondae Hollis-Jefferson. (Nigel Amstock/CU Independent)

Judging by the numerous photos of snow that the Arizona men’s basketball travel party posted, Boulder, Colo., was pretty cold on Thursday, but the Wildcats are red hot.

No. 7 Arizona (25-3, 13-2 Pac-12 Conference) pounded Colorado 82-54 on the road to win its fifth game in a row.

The Wildcats are heading into their matchup at No. 13 Utah (7 p.m. Saturday on ESPN) on a roll.

Yes, on its own a 28-point road win is impressive, but the circumstances make it a very good omen.

After the Wildcats lost to UNLV, Oregon State and ASU on the road, the Colorado game looked like the very definition of a trap game.

The Wildcats obviously overlooked the Rebels, Beavers and even Sun Devils, and after they admitted they did the same last Saturday in their 57-47 win over UCLA, the Buffaloes looked like a tough out.

Colorado’s (12-15, 5-10) record is hideous, but most of those losses came while it was missing two of its big three: forward Josh Scott and guard Xavier Johnson. Plus, the Buffaloes were 10-4 this year at the Coors Events Center and 70-13 at home under coach Tad Boyle.

When it’s at full strength, Colorado is much more talented than UNLV, Oregon State and ASU, and with the de facto Pac-12 championship game looming on Saturday, it looked like the Wildcats would look ahead again.

Instead, the Wildcats crushed Colorado, never trailing. Ten Wildcats scored, 11 played and five scored in double figures. The rout was so devastating that the official stats even accidentally said the redshirting Kadeem Allen and the ineligible transfer Ryan Anderson played.

The huge issue with the UCLA win — other than it being by just 10 against a team that only played eight players despite three fouling out — is that the Wildcat starters played like bench warmers.

Arizona’s starters only scored 30 points. Forward Stanley Johnson was 1-for-9 from the field, Brandon Ashley was 2-for-10 from the field and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson was 1-for-6 from the field.

Luckily, the bench saved the day, led by guard Gabe York (13 points) and center Dusan Ristic (12 points).

At Colorado, the starters bounced back in a big way, scoring 57 points.

However, York continued to shine, scoring 14 points on 4-for-6 field goal shooting, and making both his free throws. Hitting almost every shot is obviously ideal for any player, but for a sixth man, it could make the Wildcats lethal in March.

While York was the star of the first half, scoring 11 points, Stanley Johnson was the player of the second period. The freshman scored 11 points, for a total of 15.

Johnson hadn’t scored more than 13 in the last three games. With him scoring, the Wildcats are tough to stop.

Finally, center Kaleb Tarczewski continued his re-emergence. After an embarrassing outing in the loss to ASU, after which even coach Sean Miller called him out, Zeus has been on a roll.

Tarczewski scored eight, 17 and then 15 points in the games following the Sun Devil shocker, where he scored two. However, like the other starters, Tarczewski hardly showed up against UCLA, scoring five points.

Tarczewski rebounded on his 22nd birthday at Colorado, to score 14 points on 6-for-8 shooting and grabbed three offensive rebounds.

Zeus is playing his best ball of the season, and the Wildcats likely need him in Saturday’s clash of the titans.

Top-10 caliber Utah is no doubt eager to get revenge for Arizona’s 18-point win in Tucson. The Utes pounded ASU on Thursday, making sure the titanic matchup didn’t lack any luster.

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Follow James Kelley on Twitter.

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