Colorado was supposed to be one of the Pac-12's cellar-dwellars. Instead, the Buffs are on top of the conference.
Although they struggled throughout the last 10 minutes, Colorado did just enough Saturday to upset Arizona, 53-51, and secure the Pac-12's automatic bid to the NCAA men's basketball tournament.
Carlon Brown and Spencer Dinwiddie combined for 27 points to lead the team, highlighting Colorado's terrible offensive day. Brown's thunderous dunk capped the scoring for Colorado and gave the Buffs a 53-47 lead, which they held on to.
No one expected Colorado to win the conference tourney. They beat Utah by 12, then shocked Oregon, thanks to a game-winner by Andre Roberson. Seventeen points from Brown led Colorado past 24-9 California, but it was the Buffs' defense that led them to the conference title over Arizona.
Colorado out-rebounded Arizona by 12, and their 27 defensive rebounds were key to holding Arizona to just 51 points. Solomon Hill scored only 13 and Kyle Fogg was held to 14, a result of Colorado's defense.
The Buffs didn't allowed more than 62 points during the tournament, but they weren't able to top 70. Offensive struggles could hurt Colorado against top-notch offenses, as Colorado will likely face a fourth, fifth or sixth-seeded team during the first round.
Arizona had many chances to take the conference title, but missed shots and missed opportunities doomed them. After a turnover and two missed free throws by Colorado, Arizona had a chance to win, but Kyle Fogg missed a desperation heave.
Fogg didn't use the last ten seconds wisely. He failed to make a pass or look for a good shot, and as a result, he ended up missing the final shot.
At the beginning of the second half, Colorado dominated, as a mix of mid-range jumpers, free throws, layups and threes helped give Colorado a 50-38 lead.
Momentum was clearly on Colorado's side, as the Buffs were playing superb defense and getting good shots on offense. However, Arizona took that momentum, but missed opportunities doomed them. Missed jumpers and a failure to get offensive rebounds proved key, and the 'Cats fell short.
Arizona will likely be a high seed in the NIT, while Colorado will be dancing. In their first year in the Pac-12, the Buffaloes ended on top.
And the Wildcats are left to ponder what could've been.
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