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Cat Tracks: Wildcats hang on to beat Buffaloes, advance in Pac-12 Tournament

A balanced offensive effort and timely shots allowed the Arizona Wildcats to hang on and beat the Colorado Buffaloes 79-69 Thursday in the second round of the Pac-12 Tournament in Las Vegas.

The Good:

The Wildcats fell behind 2-0 28 seconds into the game, but a short Kaleb Tarczewski jump shot and a layup by Nick Johnson gave Arizona a 4-2 lead it would never relinquish.

The Wildcats got a balanced scoring effort, as every player who stepped on the floor for the team scored. The team was led by Johnson’s 18 points, and seven different players scored at least five.

Solomon Hill chipped in 13 to go along with seven rebounds and four assists and Mark Lyons added 14 points with three assists.

Backup Jordin Mayes, who has come on strong of late, scored eight points off the bench, as did Brandon Ashley, who also pulled down five rebounds and had three assists. Grant Jerrett came off the bench and scored seven points to go along with six rebounds.

The Bad:

Lyons made just four of 13 shots on the afternoon, including a woeful 2-9 from three-point range. In all the ‘Cats made just 9-27 threes.

Arizona also struggled to get to the free throw line, as the Wildcats, who averaged more than 21 attempts for the charity stripe per game in the regular season, attempted just 16 tries Friday afternoon.

Stat of the Game:

Both Arizona’s scoring leader, Nick Johnson, and Colorado’s, Spencer Dinwiddie, finished the game with 18 points.

He Said It:

“They’re tough, they’ve got a great group of guys. We played them twice already and they brought it to us, so we’re looking for a little revenge. Just play hard on the defensive end and everything will take care of itself.” — Nick Johnson on UA’s next opponent, UCLA.


• The Wildcats and Buffaloes have now played six times over the last two seasons, with each team winning three times. The teams had split their previous two meetings this season.

• Last season it was the Buffaloes knocking the Wildcats out of the Pac-12 Tournament, only it was in the championship game and Colorado won.

• The announced crowd of 12,915, which was mostly Arizona fans, is an MGM Grand basketball record.

• From Feb. 2 to Feb. 27, Johnson scored in double figures just once (12 vs. Washington). In the last three games he’s tallied 10, 17 and 18 points. He missed just one field goal attempt against Colorado.

• The Wildcats led the Pac-12 in free throw percentage with a mark of .744 during the regular season, and they hit 87.5 percent of their free tosses Thursday.

What’s Next:

The Wildcats advance to the Pac-12 Tournament semifinals, where No. 1 seed UCLA awaits for a 6:06 p.m. tipoff. The Bruins beat the Wildcats in both meetings this season, winning by a score of 84-73 in Tucson and 74-69 in Los Angeles.