No. 2 Arizona pulls away to beat Colorado in Pac-12 tournament semifinals

Arizona's Azuolas Tubelis drives on Colorado's Tristan da Silva during the first half March 11, 2022.
Arizona’s Azuolas Tubelis, who had 20 points and 11 rebounds, drives against Colorado’s Tristan da Silva during a Pac-12 tournament semifinal. The No. 2-ranked Wildcats won 82-72.
(John Locher / Associated Press)

Azuolas Tubelis had 20 points and 11 rebounds, Justin Kier added 13 points and No. 2 Arizona pulled away late to beat Colorado 82-72 on Friday night in the Pac-12 Conference tournament semifinals.

Arizona played without point guard Kerr Kriisa, who sprained his right ankle in the closing seconds of an 84-80 victory over Stanford in the quarterfinals.

The top-seeded Wildcats (30-3) had a good offensive flow in the first half with Kier running the show but weren’t nearly as efficient through most of the second.


Arizona gradually stretched the lead in the closing minutes and used a 7-0 run to go up 78-65 with just more than a minute left. The Wildcats will play the winner between No. 13 UCLA and No. 21 USC in Friday’s late semifinal in the title game Saturday night.

No. 4 seed Colorado set a Pac-12 record with 16 three-pointers but went eight for 30 on two-pointers to miss out on a chance to play in consecutive Pac-12 title games. The Buffaloes went on a 12-2 run to erase a nine-point halftime deficit but went into an offensive funk as Arizona started to stretch the lead.

Colorado's Nique Clifford, center left, and Julian Hammond III collide during the first half March 11, 2021.
Colorado’s Nique Clifford, center left, and Julian Hammond III collide during the first half.
(John Locher / Associated Press)

Jabari Walker led Colorado with 19 points but had just two in the second half.

The Wildcats and Buffaloes split the regular-season series, each winning blowouts at home with dominant second halves.

The third meeting was also close at halftime — and an offensive Vegas show.

Colorado hit seven of its first nine shots to go up eight early, went through a brief funk and went nine for 15 from three-point range in the first half. Walker hit all five of his three-point attempts and had 17 points.

After splitting their regular-season games, USC and UCLA men’s basketball teams meet again Friday night in the Pac-12 Conference tournament semifinals.

March 11, 2022

The Wildcats had no drop in efficiency with Kriisa in a walking boot, working their inside-out game to near perfection while hitting 17 of 28 shots.


Tubelis was their go-to player, scoring 18 points, mostly in the post and on short jumpers. He jumped a passing lane for a steal and finished off a three-point play with three seconds left to give Arizona a 47-38 halftime lead.

Big picture

Colorado was the Pac-12’s best three-point shooting team during the regular season and upped its pace in the Pac-12 semifinals. The Buffaloes just weren’t good enough inside the arc and now have to hope their resume is good enough to earn an NCAA tournament bid.

Arizona had some offensive issues in the second half after lighting it up in the first, but the Wildcats locked down Colorado down the stretch to earn their first trip to the Pac-12 championship game since 2018.

Up next

Colorado: Could have some anxious moments on Selection Sunday as it awaits its postseason fate.

Arizona: Moves on to face USC or UCLA in the Pac-12 championship game Saturday.