G Nick Johnson (6-2 freshman)
G Kyle Fogg (6-3, senior)
G Brendon Lavender (6-5 senior)
F Solomon Hill (6-6, junior)
C Jesse Perry (6-7, senior)
G Nate Tomlinson (6-3 senior)
G Spencer Dinwiddie (6-5 freshman)
G Carlon Brown (6-5 senior)
F Andre Roberson (6-7 sophomore)
C Austin Dufault (6-9 senior)
HOW THEY MATCH UP
How they got here: Colorado finished in a tie for fifth place with UCLA but received the No. 6 Pac-12 Tournament seed because of its loss to the Bruins during the regular season. The Buffaloes then beat Utah, Oregon and California during its first three games of the Pac-12 Tournament.
The season series: Nearly a mirror image of each other defensively in philosophy and effectiveness, the Wildcats and Buffaloes split the season series, with Colorado winning 64-63 at Boulder and the Wildcats winning 71-57 at McKale Center.
What’s new with the Buffaloes: Colorado skidded to a puzzling finish in regular season play, losing by 24 points at home to Stanford, beating California and then getting swept in Oregon before beginning their Pac-12 Tournament run.
The Buffs veteran guard is making the most of his one eligible season at Colorado, and he hurt Arizona in both games during the regular season. Brown had 17 points and five rebounds on Friday against California.
The Wildcats’ steady forward enjoyed a bit of rest on a somewhat off night Friday after he fouled out on a technical foul with 5:30 to go. That may be a good thing today: The Wildcats will need Hill effective and rested, as he was while playing nearly 40 minutes against UCLA.
The key Wildcat in today’s game might be Chris Rounds, the UA’s associate director of performance enhancement. He’s the guy coach Sean Miller brought with him from Xavier, to run what Miller calls an “incredible” strength and conditioning program. With a rotation of only seven players, the Wildcats will need to draw on that conditioning today, with their third game in a 50-hour period.
“We try to pride ourselves as a program” in conditioning, Miller said. “Not that we’re better than anybody else but we have an incredible strength and conditioning program. These guys have lifted weights religiously since October. We’ve not missed.”
Colorado was picked to finish 10th in the Pac-12’s official preseason poll, and the Buffaloes haven’t forgotten it. “It’s motivated these guys,” Colorado coach Tad Boyle said. “Anytime we let down a little bit or need a good practice, I just throw it out there. The one thing I like about out team is we’ve got a lot of competitive guys. We’ve used it as a staff and these guys have used it with themselves.”
The Buffaloes have another motivation today: After being arguably snubbed out of an NCAA at-large invitation last season, they can clinch an automatic bid today with a win over the Wildcats. “After what we went through, we don’t talk about bubbles,” Boyle said. “We want to just come here and get the job done. With what these guys went through last year, we don’t want to go through it again.”
Boyle said it was fitting that the Pac-12’s top two defensive teams in field goal percentage defense are meeting for the conference tournament final. “I think this is really appropriate,” Miller said. “We’re going to be playing with a lot of emotion tomorrow, and I’m sure they are too.”
1 – Arizona wins in three Pac-10/12 Tournament championship games since the event was moved to the Staples Center in 2002, the year Arizona won. The Wildcats lost to Washington in the 2005 and 2011 finals.
2- Double doubles by Jesse Perry in two Pac-12 Tournament games this season.
5 – Colorado players averaging 9.0 points or more.
No. 6 Colorado (22-11) vs. No. 4 Arizona (23-10) * Staples Center, Los Angeles * Pac-12 Tournament final * CBS * 1290-AM