James Akinjo scores 22, Arizona beats Colorado
TUCSON, Ariz. — James Akinjo had 22 points and eight assists, lifting Arizona to an 88-74 win over Colorado on Monday night.
Arizona (7-1, 2-0 Pac-12) showed no signs for rust following a six-day layoff, shooting 53% while making 8 of 17 from the 3-point arc. Jemarl Baker added 14 points to help the Wildcats improve to 10-0 all-time against Colorado at McKale Center.
Akinjo opened the season shooting 44% from the 3-point arc, but had gone 3 for 18 the previous four games. The transfer from Georgetown found the range against Colorado, making his first five — one at the halftime buzzer — and finishing 5 for 7.
Colorado (6-2, 0-1) shot well in the first half to keep Arizona within reach, but went cold during a key stretch in the second half to lose its twice-delayed conference opener. Evan Battey had 18 points despite foul trouble to lead the Buffaloes.
Colorado also lost leading scorer McKinley Wright IV to a right ankle injury in the final minute.
The Buffaloes and Wildcats were originally scheduled to play on Dec. 2, but the game was postponed due to COVID-19 issues in Colorado’s program.
Colorado had two more games canceled before winning four straight, the latest a 74-64 victory over Grand Canyon three days before Christmas.
Arizona lost its Pac-12 opener at Stanford 78-75 and had a hard time shaking Montana in its final non-conference game before winning 70-64 on Dec. 22.
The layoffs didn’t seem to cause any rust in the rescheduled game.
Colorado and Arizona traded made baskets throughout the first half, including a combined 12 from the 3-point arc.
The 6-foot-8, 269-pound Battey bulled his way through the Wildcats for 14 first-half points.
Akinjo had 13 by halftime, including a running 3 at the buzzer to put Arizona up 50-44.
Battey went to the bench with his third foul 2 1/2 minutes into second half and the Wildcats took advantage, making five straight shots to go up 63-52.
Battey returned midway through the second half and immediately picked up his fourth foul. The Buffaloes continued to clang shots as Arizona pushed the lead to 13.
Colorado put itself in position to end its long winless streak at McKale Center. The Buffaloes couldn’t pull it off, hurt by Battey’s foul trouble and a stretch of poor second-half shooting.
Arizona has shown its offensive diversity this season with multiple players taking the offensive lead. Akinjo was the latest, making 5 of 11 shots while maintaining his distributor’s role.
Colorado plays at USC on Thursday.
Arizona plays at Washington Thursday.