The No. 9 Arizona Wildcats fell victim on the road Wednesday night against the Colorado Buffaloes, 75-72, at the Coors Events Center.
Josh Scott led Colorado with a season-high 26 points, while George King chipped in with 14. Although the Buffaloes led the entire second half, the win was not secure until an Allonzo Trier three-point attempt clanged off the back of the rim as time expired.
NCAA March Madness noted the big victory for Colorado on Twitter:
NCAA March Madness @marchmadness
Important win for Colorado. Buffs get 26 from Josh Scott in 75-72 victory over No. 9 Arizona. https://t.co/V5sjmCPQxX2016-2-25 04:06:20
Jeff Eisenberg of Yahoo Sports thinks it most likely was big enough to punch Colorado's ticket to the Big Dance:
Jeff Eisenberg @JeffEisenberg
That's probably the win that will get Colorado into the NCAA tournament. Fantastic season from Josh Scott, nice bounce-back for the Buffs.2016-2-25 04:10:56
Although the Wildcats won't take much solace with this stat, it's been no shame to lose on the road this season. No. 1 teams in the nation, including the Villanova Wildcats on Wednesday, have lost a record amount of times away from home this season, per ESPN Stats & Info:
ESPN Stats & Info @ESPNStatsInfo
Villanova: 7th loss on the road by #1 team, most ever by a #1 team 6th different #1 team to lose this season2016-2-25 02:33:55
After a back-and-forth start to the first nine minutes of the game, Josh Fortune hit a jumper to give Colorado an 18-17 lead it would not relinquish the rest of the night.
Here's a play from King and Colorado that summed up the night for the two teams, per the Buffaloes' official Twitter feed:
Colorado Buffaloes @cubuffs
King picks the pocket of Arizona and finishes the corner 3, assisted by Talton! Buffs lead 53-43. Watch now on ESPN2 https://t.co/EezWpIdYBO2016-2-25 03:25:38
Three-point shooting was one of the bigger factors in the game, as Colorado connected on 5-of-15, while Arizona was just 3-of-11. The Buffaloes actually out-fouled Arizona, 17-15, but went to the line five more times and made as many more free throws.
The guard play was strong for both teams as they combined for 73 points in the backcourt. Television analyst Bill Walton was impressed by their play, although it came with a reminder from his play-by-play partner Dave Pasch, per Eamonn Brennan of ESPN.com:
Eamonn Brennan @eamonnbrennan
Walton: "Now that's the kind of guard play we talked about in the open. That was tonight, wasn't it?" Pasch: "It was."2016-2-25 03:33:35
Every time Arizona seemed to make a run, Colorado answered with a run of its own. After Trier hit a three-pointer with 15 minutes, 50 seconds left in the game to cut a 10-point lead to five, Colorado ran off five in a row of its own.
Nick Griffith of Denver's Fox 31 could feel the victory coming for Colorado:
Nick Griffith @NickGriffithTV
#Buffs basketball on the cusp of scoring a huge resume boosting win over #9 #Arizona. Up 8 , but still plenty of game left at 4:00 to play.2016-2-25 03:51:16
Three minutes later the lead was eight before Fortune hit this big three-pointer to push the lead to double digits again, per the Buffaloes:
Colorado Buffaloes @cubuffs
Fortune drains a 3, putting @cubuffsmbb up 59-48! Tune in now on ESPN2, you don't want to miss this! #GoBuffs https://t.co/oLaRek8C7I2016-2-25 03:33:36
When the Wildcats cut the lead to 65-60 with nine minutes to go, Colorado went on an 8-4 run to stretch the lead to nine at 73-64 on a jumper by Scott:
Colorado Buffaloes @cubuffs
Josh Scott is having some FUN with these cats tonight #rolltad (73-64, U8 timeout, 2H)2016-2-25 03:44:25
He then hit a layup with 3:34 to play to put Colorado up by 10 and keep the game out of reach for Arizona, per Pac-12 Networks:
Pac-12 Network @Pac12Network
TFW you're Josh Scott just doing Josh Scott things ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ #Pac12Hoops https://t.co/JvBABaUPLN2016-2-25 03:56:05
However, the Wildcats ended the game on a 7-0 run before Trier's missed shot. In two possessions prior Colorado was awarded the ball on a suspect out-of-bounds call, and then Scott was called for traveling with 10 seconds left, leading to the final possession.
ESPN.com's Myron Medcalf asked what many viewers must have been thinking while watching the sequence of events play out:
Myron Medcalf @MedcalfByESPN
Arizona-Colorado. Wow. What is happening?2016-2-25 04:05:57
While Scott was a big factor in the game, turnovers also played a big role. Arizona equaled its assists total with turnovers at 11, while the Buffaloes had only nine.
Arizona—led in scoring by Ryan Anderson with 19 points and Trier, who poured in 15—drops to second in the Pac-12 for the moment with a 10-5 league record. At 9-7, Colorado doesn't have much of a chance at winning the league title. But it did capture its 20th victory of the season and, as Eisenberg noted, could go a long way with the NCAA selection committee come Selection Sunday.
Jeff Goodman of ESPN.com praised Colorado head coach Tad Boyle for not only the job he did against Arizona, but for his work all season for the 20-9 Buffaloes:
Jeff Goodman @GoodmanESPN
Tad Boyle has quietly done a nice job this season. Underrated coach. Colorado knocks off Arizona and Buffs in good shape down stretch.2016-2-25 04:10:29
The 53-year-old coach was happy to be a part of the game, per Arran Andersen of Denver’s KMGH-TV:
Arran Andersen @arranandersen
"It was a great college basketball game to be a part of for a coach, a player, and a media member" Tad Boyle https://t.co/UEj8CtpWOK2016-2-25 04:34:20
Colorado and Scott picked a good night for a great game, per Jake Shapiro of BSNDenver:
Jake Shapiro @Shapalicious
How about that for a senior moment Josh Scott.2016-2-25 04:11:25
Boyle was impressed with his senior, per Ryan Koenigsberg of BSNDenver:
Ryan Koenigsberg @RyanKoenigsberg
Tad: Josh led the team and the team followed. They answered the bell.2016-2-25 04:33:58
He also agreed with Eisenberg when it comes to Colorado’s resume, per Andersen: "There were 2 NCAA Tournament teams playing tonight," Boyle said.
Arizona head coach Sean Miller couldn’t have been happy with the outcome, but he also apparently is not a fan of court-storming after the Colorado fans streamed onto the floor after the game, per Ezra Amacher of the Daily Wildcat:
Ezra Amacher @EzraAmacher
Sean Miller goes on five-minute talk about how the league needs to do better job of protecting players after court stormings2016-2-25 04:41:55
The fans obviously thought it was a win worth celebrating, as did their team, shown here celebrating via King's Twitter account:
King George XXIV @2bkings
Good win tonight! https://t.co/B5tCS5TZg02016-2-25 05:04:23
It remains to be seen if the Buffaloes will be celebrating come Mid-March, but if they are, this game very well could be the reason why.