Bufaloes and Wildcats meet for Pac-12 championshipMar 10, 2012 - 3:51 PM Los Angeles, CA (Sports Network) - The sixth-seeded Colorado Buffaloes attempt to conclude their improbable first season in the conference with a Pac-12 Conference Tournament Championship, as they take on the fourth-seeded Arizona Wildcats with an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament on the line.
Both teams are entrenched firmly on the bubble for the NCAA Tournament, so while the winner of today's game will earn an automatic bid into the field, the loser will have to await the Selection Committee's ruling on Sunday.
While Colorado's first round win over Utah was hardly a shock, it was able to knock off the third and second seeds in subsequent rounds (Oregon and California, respectively) to advance to today's championship game. The Buffaloes' transition from the Big 12 has been a seamless one, as they have now won twice as many games as they have lost (22-11).
A perennial power in the Pac-12, Arizona has reached the tournament title game for the second year in a row, though it is looking for its first championship since 2002. The Wildcats earned a bye in the first round and then took care a business against lower seeded UCLA and Oregon State in the quarters and semifinals.
The teams split the season series on the year with each squad winning on their home floor. The Buffaloes hold an advantage over the Wildcats 9-6 all-time.
Colorado upset California, one of the tournament favorites, by pulling away in the second half thanks in part to a 10-0 run. The Buffs shot an even 50 percent from the field and they were able to cash in at the free-throw line, draining 15-of-18 from the stripe. Carlon Brown and Andre Roberson tallied 17 points apiece to pace the squad, while Roberson was just one rebound shy of his third straight double-double and his 19th total on the season. CU's numbers don't exactly stand out, as it ranks ninth in the Pac-12 in scoring (68.1 ppg) and eighth in field goal percentage (.445), though it is able to make up for some of its deficiencies by being great on the glass (+3.8 rebounding margin). Roberson has been perhaps the most impressive big man in the conference, scoring 11.5 ppg with a league-best 11.2 rpg. Brown (12.5 ppg), Austin Dufault (10.8 ppg) and Spencer Dinwiddie (10.2 ppg) make it difficult for a defense to key on any one player on offense.
Though Arizona shot an impressive 47.1 percent from the field in its semifinal win over Oregon State, it was the defensive effort that was the story, as it held the conference's most potent attack to just 37.7 percent from the field and more than 18 point under its season scoring average. The defensive effort was no fluke, as it ranks second in the conference in field goal percentage defense .408. Kyle Fogg put up 22 points in the win, his third 20-point effort in the last four games, and Jesse Perry recorded his third straight double- double with 16 points and 11 rebounds. The Wildcats have put up solid numbers on offense (70.1 ppg), but they have been devastatingly good from three-point range, ranking first in the conference in both three-pointers made (233) and percentage (.381). Fogg (13.5 ppg), Solomon Hill (12.8 ppg, 7.9 rpg), and Perry (12.1 ppg, 7.4 rpg) have been as impressive a trio as there is in the conference.
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