The Arizona Wildcats remained undefeated tonight by a margin that can’t possibly get any slimmer.
Already having beaten Florida and San Diego State by a point each, the Wildcats went to overtime after a late three-pointer by Colorado's Sabatino Chen was ruled to have been taken a split-second after the regulation buzzer – then coasted in overtime to a 92-83 win at McKale Center.
Kevin Parrom had five points early in overtime to put the Wildcats ahead for good while Mark Lyons added six in overtime to put the game away and move Arizona to 13-0. Lyons finished as the game’s leading scorer with 24 points.
The win not only kept the third-ranked Wildcats undefeated at 13-0 but evened their mark to 2-2 against Colorado, their newest rival in the Pac-12.
Colorado beat the Wildcats twice last season, by a point in Boulder and by two points in the Pac-12 Tournament final, then led most of Thursday’s game before the Wildcats’ improbable victory.
UA trailed by up to 17 points in the first half and up to 16 in the second before cutting the lead into single digits in the final minutes of regulation. In the final seconds, Colorado’s Jeremy Adams miss two free throws with 18 seconds left and, after Colorado’s Xavier Johnson fouled Lyons as he dribbled beyond the three-point line, Lyons hit two free throws to tie it at 80 with nine second left.
Colorado appeared to win 83-80, however, when Chen banked in a three-pointer as time expired. But after the Buffaloes mobbed Chen near midcourt, officials reviewed the shot multiple times and Chen was ruled to have taken the shot after time ran out and the backboard’s red light lit up, putting the game into overtime at 80-80.
The comeback erased some poor early efforts from the Wildcats. Arizona had cruised through nonconference play at 12-0 and entered Thursday’s game with a No. 3 national ranking. But the Wildcats came out slowly at both ends of the floor, trailing by up to 17 points early, and didn’t have much more success in the second.
The Wildcats had cut Colorado’s lead to five points with 1:33 left on a three-pointer from Solomon Hill and Nick Johnson stole the ball from Andre Roberson at midcourt, then was fouled with 1:15 left.
Johnson hit 1 of 2 free throws, cutting Colorado’s lead to 78-74, but Josh Scott hit 1 of 2 on the other end to put the Buffs back up by five. Then, Lyons threw up an errant layup in traffic before the Wildcats tied it up in the final seconds.
The Wildcats struggled on both ends of the floor early and trailed Colorado 34-27 at halftime.
Arizona cut its deficit from 17 to seven in the final minutes of the first half but the Buffs rattled off seven straight points after halftime before UA came to its senses. Andre Roberson hit a three-pointer in the corner and came back with a thunderous alley-oop dunk on a well-placed assist by Spencer Dinwiddie.
Meanwhile , UA forward Solomon Hill and guard Nick Johnson struggled. Hill was called for his fourth foul with 15:26 left, an offensive foul that also was hit fifth turnover, while Johnson missed his first six field goals before making a rim-rattling three pointer to cut Colorado’s lead to 53-40.
Arizona trailed by up to 16 points early in the second half and didn’t make a significant move until seven minutes were left.
In the first half, Arizona allowed the Buffaloes to shoot 46.2 percent overall from the field and make 6 of 9 three pointers. The Wildcats, meanwhile, hit only 25.9 percent of their own field goals. The Wildcats also had five turnovers in the first eight minutes and seven for the half.
Xavier Johnson led Colorado with 12 points in the half while Askia Booker had 11.
Arizona trailed by up to 17 points in the first half but cut it to single digits only in the final minute, when Kaleb Tarczewski made a rebound basket and Nick Johnson hit a pair of free throws with two seconds left. Johnson was fouled by Booker after recovering Booker’s turnover on Colorado’s final possession of the half.
Colorado had its 17-point lead by the time surprise starter Xavier Johnson hit two three pointers in a row with about five minutes left, and the Buffs earlier hurt the Wildcats with three three-pointers from Booker.
Booker’s second three came off a rebound and assist by teammate Andre Roberson, who whipped the ball to Booker at the top of the key from the baseline. Booker then hit his third to make it 21-7 while shooting over tough defense.
That last three completed a 15-1 run for Colorado, which kept UA scoreless for a five-minute stretch over the middle of the first half.
Through the first eight minutes, UA made just 2 of 10 field goals and had already turned the ball over five times, with Lyons and Hill each having two turnovers. The Wildcats trailed Colorado 13-7 at that point.
Colorado took a 9-6 lead into the first media timeout (15:40). Buffs hit 4 of 5 field goals to start the game, with four different players scoring.
The Wildcats next will host Utah on Saturday at 3 p.m. The Utes had Thursday off after losing in overtime at ASU on Wednesday.