In one of the most exciting games of the college basketball season, No. 3 Arizona survived a tough test with a 92-83 overtime victory over Colorado in Tuscon Thursday night.
The Buffaloes came out on fire in this tough matchup. The trio of Andre Roberson, Askia Booker and Xavier Johnson shot well from the outside to get their team to a lead as high as 30-13 in the first half.
Arizona fought hard to keep the game close, but trailed 34-27 at the intermission.
In the second half, the Wildcats woke up on both ends of the court. The squad put the press on and forced the visitors into a number of bad mistakes.
Arizona ended up tying the game with two free throws with just under 10 seconds remaining.
However, the biggest moment of the game came at the very end of regulation. Colorado guard Sabatino Chen banked in a three-point shot that appeared to be the buzzer-beating game winner. The officials then ruled that he was unable to get the shot off before time expired.
Based on the photographic evidence, that might've been the wrong call:
PIC: Colorado hits a 3 at buzzer to beat 3rd-ranked Arizona. Refs waived it off AFTER REPLAY. Here's frame. twitter.com/CorkGaines/sta…— Cork Gaines (@CorkGaines) January 4, 2013
In overtime, Arizona pulled away and was able to leave with the hard-fought victory.
The undefeated Wildcats had great balance in scoring throughout the game. They had five players in double figures, with Mark Lyons leading the way with 24 points.
Kevin Parrom was also solid with 16 points and eight rebounds in the victory.
Colorado was able to nearly pull off the upset thanks to tremendous three-point shooting. Even after a few late misses, the team finished 10-of-21 from behind the arc.
Askia Booker was the one of the best players in the contest, scoring 18 on 4-of-7 from three, while Sabatino Chen racked up 15 points off the bench.
Although the Buffaloes have not received much national attention this year, this game is certain to turn some heads. The squad is now 10-3 with only road losses to Arizona, Kansas and Wyoming.
On the other side, third-ranked Arizona remains one of four undefeated teams in college basketball along with Duke, Michigan and Wyoming.
The early-season resume includes impressive wins over Florida, Miami and San Diego State, but their Pac-12 opener turned out to be the toughest.
With only two days until the next game against Utah, Arizona better work out the kinks quickly. Colorado also has a tough schedule ahead with another road game against Arizona State on Sunday.
While many sports fans were watching the Fiesta Bowl, ESPN's Andy Katz had to remind people that this basketball game was one worth fans' time:
My seemingly nightly reminder of a good game. Colorado at Arizona on ESPNU. We're seeing the Pac-12 tourney/Charleston Classic champ Buffs.— Andy Katz (@ESPNAndyKatz) January 4, 2013
This game might have been a wake-up call for Arizona, as a few analysts were unimpressed with the team's play on the night. Dana O'Neil of ESPN and Grantland's Mark Titus both use this game to look at the Pac-12 as a whole:
Colorado showing there will be a Pac 12 race after all. Impressive— Dana O'Neil (@ESPNDanaOneil) January 4, 2013
So, um, maybe Arizona isn't going to run away with Pac-12. Also, this seems like an appropriate time to remind you KU beat Colorado by 36.— Mark Titus (@clubtrillion) January 4, 2013
Early in the second half, CBS' Seth Davis correctly predicted that it would not be an easy finish for Colorado:
Dear Colorado. Remember, the game lasts 40 minutes. Gotta play 'em all. Signed, Florida and San Diego State.— Seth Davis (@SethDavisHoops) January 4, 2013
However, it was the almost-buzzer-beater by Chen that really got people talking. Most reacted like Jeff Goodman of CBS when the ball went in:
Sabatino Chen. Wow. Wow. Wow.— Jeff Goodman (@GoodmanCBS) January 4, 2013
Then Andy Katz conveyed the surprise when the shot was called off:
Wow again. Officials say basket is no good. Tough, tough call. Looked like it was barely off Chen's finger tip. OT in Tucson. ESPNU.— Andy Katz (@ESPNAndyKatz) January 4, 2013
CSN's Drew Shiller reminded people that the Buffaloes have been impressive all year:
Colorado entered tonight with an unofficial RPI of No. 4, SOS No. 7, yet didn't receive a single vote in this week's AP Poll... makes sense— Drew Shiller (@DrewShiller) January 4, 2013
Colorado should be proud of the effort, although moral victories do not mean much in conference play.