The Pac-12 title game came down to the Arizona Wildcats and the Colorado Buffalos and as the horn went off it was Colorado who was victorious and able to punch their ticket into the NCAA Tournament, leaving Arizona to sweat out Selection Sunday with their chances of getting in not looking good.
Both teams came into the championship game riding high with momentum, with Colorado winning 3 games in 3 days while Arizona, clinching a first round bye, were winners of 2 straight to earn their chance at the Pac-12 Championship. Coming into the game, it was going to be a testament to each teams’ conditioning and whoever wanted it most. Neither team was considered to get a bid into the NCAA tournament without winning the conference tournament, therefore leaving us fans with a hard fought game to the end.
The game never got out of hand for either team and while Colorado gave Arizona multiple chances to steal the game away, Arizona could not capitalize on them. Late in the second half, Colorado took a big lead that extended to 11 points and it seemed as though the chances of getting in had slipped away, but the team was able to fight and crawl their way back into the ball game, as close as 2 points away. The play of the game was when Colorado guard Carlon Brown had the ball on the perimeter, recognized that Mayes was out of position and blew by him for a highlight one-handed dunk to give them huge momentum to close out the game.
Arizona was able to foul and Colorado missed 2 free throws that would have sealed the game. Off the rebound, Nick Johnson found senior Kyle Fogg for an isolation play, but Fogg could not figure out what to do with it and threw up a desperation shot that missed and ended Arizona’s NCAA tournament hopes.
The thing that sticks out in my mind, a day after the game, is throughout the year Arizona has been in late game situations where a timeout was needed and had none. A play needed to be called, Arizona needed to execute, and time and time again, nothing was called. Fogg is not the best creator but he is someone who is a pick and pop guy; when he is asked to create on his own, it leaves the other four players on the floor watching, and this is exactly what happened. The last play of the game is not what lost the game for Arizona, however, as they were unable to hit key shots–including free throws–down the stretch (Arizona went 10-18 from the line).
Colorado deserves credit for how they responded, opening the second half and putting Arizona in a position to come from behind. They were able to cap off their tremendous 4 wins in 4 days by earning a birth into the NCAA tournament and winning the Pac-12 tournament in their first year in the league. Congratulations to Colorado.
Arizona now looks to selection Sunday at 3pm to see if their name is called into the field. While the assumption is that their name will not be called and will more than likely receive an invite into the NIT with a number 1 seed, most will feel the disappointment of missing the tournament for the second time in three years. But make no mistake about it, Arizona will take all the practice time that it could get and look to improve and finish the season off with a few more wins.