No. 8 Arizona will try to get All-America candidate Azuolas Tubelis back on track when it hosts Colorado on Saturday in Tucson, Ariz., for the only scheduled meeting of the season between the Pac-12 foes.
Tubelis had been a model of excellence and consistency until the last two games, which started with a loss at Stanford. He had his worst game, with four points and no rebounds while playing only 17 minutes due to foul trouble. His first half Thursday night against Utah was also something of a disaster.
Tubelis picked up two personal fouls on the same play about five minutes into the game. He committed a foul on a push-off near midcourt in a loose-ball situation, and then compounded the problem by kicking the ball into the stands as it was rolling toward the baseline. Officials assessed a Class A technical foul (also a personal), and coach Tommy Lloyd sat Tubelis for the rest of the half.
“Zu is a great kid, he’s had an incredible year, but you can’t boot the ball into the stands,” Lloyd said after the 88-62 victory.
“This isn’t, like, open gym. It’s a game with rules and customs and standards. It’s a disappointing decision by Zu, but Zu’s had an incredible year. He’s probably had such a good year that he might need a little bit of a dip and kind of reset and refocus.
“He and I already talked about him a little bit … but he came back and he responded and played better in the second half.”
Tubelis scored all 11 of points in the second half and also finished with nine rebounds in 20 minutes. He continues to lead the Pac-12 in scoring (19.9 points per game) and rebounding (9.3), the prime reason why Arizona (23-4, 12-4 Pac-12) is within 1 1/2 games of league-leading UCLA.
Colorado (15-12, 7-9) is coming off a 67-59 victory at Arizona State on Thursday night, ending the game on a 17-3 run and avenging a home loss to the Sun Devils from early December. Tristan da Silva scored 23 to lead the Buffaloes.
“Kudos to our team,” Colorado coach Tad Boyle said. “I call them out when they don’t play with toughness. I’ve got to pat them on the back when they do. And they did tonight.”
da Silva leads the Buffaloes with 16.4 points per game, and he’s among the league leaders in 3-point shooting, making 42 of 100. KJ Simpson is averaging 16.0 points per game.
These teams played three times last season, with the teams splitting on their home courts in the regular season before Arizona won in the Pac-12 tournament semifinals.
“It’s what it is,” Lloyd said of only seeing Colorado for the first time this season.
“It’s like the NCAA Tournament; you play and have a quick turnaround against someone you’ve never played. You better lock in and figure out. This is what I know: When they’ve been right … they can almost beat anybody. Maybe they haven’t consistently been at that level, but I know that level is attainable for them. So they have our full attention.”
Arizona has won all 10 home games against Colorado since the Buffaloes joined the Pac-12 for the 2011-12 season.
–Field Level Media