BOULDER, Colo. (AP) — The Colorado Buffaloes never trailed Arizona in sending the Wildcats to their first seven-game skid in 36 years with a business-like 67-60 win Sunday night behind Lucas Siewert's hustle and McKinley Wright IV's clutch second-half adjustments.
In a reflection of how far Arizona (14-12, 5-8 Pac-12) has fallen through scandal and exodus over the last year, the Buffaloes (16-9, 7-6) didn't have to weave their way through waves of students on their way to their locker room as they had in coach Tad Boyle's five previous wins over the Wildcats at the UC Events Center.
"I'm glad that we didn't storm the court," Boyle insisted afterward. "I want our players and I want our fans to expect to compete with these guys."
That, they do.
But they also appreciate the triumph over a Sean Miller-led team.
"I still kind of think it's a big deal," Wright said after scoring 10 of his 14 points in the second half, including seven straight after Arizona tied it at 36. "Arizona, they have a lot of talented players on that team. They have a good coaching staff. We had a point in the season when we were struggling like they are right now. So, we couldn't take them lightly.
"They gave us a good shot tonight and almost stole one here. But we did a good job of adjusting. They play hard. They played their hearts out. It was a tough one that we had to grind out."
Even though they never trailed.
"It's a good win," Boyle said. "They're a quality program, they're well-coached, got talent and they played well tonight. If Arizona plays like they did tonight, they're going to get their share of wins. And they're always a tough out."
With injured guard Brandon Williams out for a fifth straight game, the Wildcats were led by Ryan Luther's 17 points and Dylan Smith's 16.
After the Wildcats fought back from an 11-point deficit to tie it at 36, Wright scored the game's next seven points, sparking a 17-5 run that put Colorado ahead 53-41 halfway through the second half.
The Wildcats never got closer than seven points after that.
"Our guys were ready to play tonight," Miller said. "We did not lose because of our effort or lack of concentration we just simply ran out of gas."
Never getting a lead is highly unusual for an Arizona team.
"There's a lot of things that are unusual for an Arizona team right now," Miller said. "We're just trying to be the best we can be."
WHAT A DIFFERENCE: Miller said Wright was the difference in the game. Boyle concurred that Wright was his usual pivotal self, but it was Siewert whom he singled out in the locker room.
Siewert had 15 points and nine rebounds in the Buffaloes' fifth consecutive Pac-12 win, but it was his play that's not measured in the box score where he made his biggest difference, especially a series of hustle plays in Colorado's key 15-3 second-half run.
"When I talk to the team after the game, I very rarely will single guys out," Boyle said. "I'll talk to the team about our team, I'll grab guys afterward and give them some feedback. But, in front of the team, I thought Lucas Siewert was terrific tonight. He played outside of his comfort zone."
DOUBLE DROUGHT: Both teams suffered through a scoring drought at the end of the first half.
Siewert's free throw with 23.3 seconds left before halftime was Colorado's first score since the 6:17 mark, and Ira Lee's dunk with a second left in the first half was the Wildcat's first points since the 5:05 mark.
Arizona: The only times the Wildcats have won in Boulder since the Buffaloes bolted the Big 12 for the Pac-12 were back in 2013-14 and 2014-15 with teams that made the round of eight in the NCAA tournament. ... Guard Alex Barcello was helped off the court with a leg injury at the 7:07 mark of the first half but returned to action after halftime.
Colorado: For the first time in school history, the Buffs have climbed back to a game over .500 after being four games under .500 during conference play. ... Colorado improved to 10-4 against the Wildcats in Boulder, but Arizona still leads the series 14-6 since the Buffs joined the Pac-12.
Arizona: The Wildcats host Cal on Thursday night.
Colorado: The Buffaloes visit Washington State on Wednesday night.