LAS VEGAS (AP) — McKinley Wright IV had 20 points and 11 assists, and Colorado put a dent in Arizona State’s NCAA Tournament hopes with a 97-85 victory over the Sun Devils in the opening round of the Pac-12 tournament on Wednesday.
Colorado (17-14) made 13 of 21 from 3-point range and took control of a close game with a 15-1 run midway through the second half.
The Buffaloes shot 54 percent overall and made 18 of 20 free throws to earn a spot in Thursday’s quarterfinals against No. 15 Arizona.
Wright also had eight rebounds and Dominque Collier had 17 points for Colorado.
Arizona State (20-11) had a pair of long stretches without a field goal in the second half and went 12 for 21 from the free throw line to lose a game it needed to win.
Remy Martin had 20 points to lead the Sun Devils, who may have an anxious Selection Sunday after being ousted so early in the Pac-12 tournament.
Arizona State came to Vegas still in decent NCAA Tournament shape. The Sun Devils went undefeated in nonconference (12-0), with resume-boosting wins at Kansas and neutral site over Xavier.
But Arizona State labored through the Pac-12 season to finish tied for eighth with Colorado, so a first-round tournament loss would make the Sun Devils sweat a little on Selection Sunday.
Arizona State and Colorado split the regular-season series. The Buffaloes had a 90-81 overtime win in Boulder and the Sun Devils won 80-66 in Tempe.
Round three was a 3-point shooting contest in the first half.
Colorado made 7 of 11 from behind the arc and closed with an 8-0 run to lead 41-37. Arizona State hit 6 of 14.
Colorado kept making 3s, hitting 5 of their first 6, and went on a 15-1 run to go up 71-61. The Buffaloes kept hitting shots and scoreless stretches of five and four minutes kept the Sun Devils from making up ground.
Colorado was crisp on offense, thanks to Wright’s leadership, and tightened down defensively during its big run to earn a shot at top-seeded Arizona.
Arizona State had too many breakdowns on defense and too many missed free throws to assure itself of an NCAA Tournament berth.
Colorado moves on to face No. 15 Arizona in the quarterfinals.
Arizona State will play in a postseason tournament, but it’s unclear which one after this loss.
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