Sun, 24 Jan 2021

Wright, Colorado shoot to end Tucson skid at Arizona

Field Level Media
02 Dec 2020, 11:19 GMT+10

Colorado is 0-8 in Arizona's McKale Center since joining the Pac-12 for the 2011-12 season.

But in this COVID-impacted season, the Buffs won't have to deal with one typical obstacle -- the 14,000-plus Wildcats fans -- when they play in Tucson, Ariz., on Wednesday night in the Pac-12 opener for both teams.

What Colorado (2-0) still has to navigate is a revamped Arizona team that is 1-0 but still full of questions after a 74-55 win over Grambling State on Friday night.

If advanced hype and the first game is any indication, the Wildcats' two best players are transfers. Ex-Nevada big man Jordan Brown made 8 of 10 field-goal attempts and finished with 19 points and 15 rebounds. Former Georgetown guard James Akinjo also poured in 19 points to go with three assists.

"I thought Jordan Brown was outstanding," said Arizona coach Sean Miller, who is breaking in five new starters.

"I don't really care who we play or where the game is played, if you can get 19 points and 15 rebounds, including 13 defensive rebounds in 32 minutes, that's one heck of an effort. I commend Jordan because he's one of our team's hardest workers."

Akinjo and Brown combined for 14 baskets. The rest of the team shot 9 for 36.

Colorado, meanwhile, might have the best player on the court.

McKinley Wright IV shined as the Buffaloes opened with wins over South Dakota and Kansas State in Manhattan, Kan. Wright earned Pac-12 Player of the Week honors, averaging 22.0 points, 5.0 assists, 4.0 rebounds and 1.5 steals. Adept at getting into the lane, he made 18 of 28 shots (64.3 percent).

Wright is one of the best point guards in the West, and his importance is as high as ever. The Buffs played against Kansas State without three players -- D'Shawn Schwartz, Keeshawn Barthelemy and Tristan da Silva -- due to COVID-19 issues. They will not play Wednesday.

Colorado's depth will be tested against an Arizona team that used only eight players in its opener. Freshman Kerr Kriisa is expected to be out again awaiting NCAA clearance, and Ira Lee could sit once more because of a concussion. Another player, Daniel Batcho, is out indefinitely due to a knee injury.

Through all the uncertainty, Colorado looks to break its 0-for-Tucson skid in Pac-12 play

"We know how good Arizona is in this league, and how good they've been year in and year out since we've been in the Pac-12," Wright said. "All you can ask for in life is an opportunity."

--Field Level Media

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