After weeks of playing stagnant offense in the wake of Brandon Ashley's injury, Arizona finally erupted against Colorado, scoring 88 points and shooting 85% (22-26) in the second half.
It was an inspiring performance, one that reminded the Pac-12 and the rest of the country why Arizona is a favorite to earn a No. 1 seed on Selection Sunday.
The hot-shooting night, led by Aaron Gordon's 23 points, should also serve as a major confidence booster going forward, starting with a Wednesday rematch with the Cal Bears on Wednesday.
A testament to the Wildcats' tenacious defense, Arizona was a possession away from beating the Bears at Haas Pavilion last month, despite shooting 32% from the field. Instead, Cal fans infamously rushed the court with time still on the clock after Justin Cobbs delivered the game-winner.
While it may be easy to say Arizona is looking for revenge at McKale, the Wildcats want to keep doing what they've been doing on both sides of the ball. Cal just so happens to be the next opponent in line.
The Bears, not a great shooting team, should have trouble scoring consistently against Arizona, who leads the nation in effective defensive efficiency and limits opponents to under 41% from inside the arc.
Cal needs just about every thing to go right, particularly the play of big men Richard Solomon and David Kravish. The two found success the first time they faced Arizona, combining for 36 points and 18 rebounds.
However, that was when Sean Miller was switching defensive arrangements on the fly. Now that Arizona has defined itself on both sides of the ball, Cal likely won't be as fortunate.
On offense, the Wildcats have adapted to a smaller rotation with the biggest change being the addition of Gabe York to the starting lineup. Surprisingly, York's largest contribution in Arizona's win over Colorado wasn't his shooting but instead his rebounding, as he pulled down a team high 10 boards.
Nonetheless, Arizona had one of its top shooting games of the season, highlighted by a pair of threes from Gordon and Elliott Pitts. The confidence that arises from seeing those shots go down in a game is immeasurable but both guys certainly needed the jolt.
Nick Johnson also impressed, scoring 20 points on eight of 15 field goals. After suffering through a short slump, no one summed up Bunnies' performance better than himself when he tweeted that he and the team got their “mojo back.”
But the glue to all of this has been TJ McConnell, who leads the Pac-12 with a 2.94 assist-to-turnover ratio. In the past two games, he has come up with 20 points, 16 assists, seven steals, and not a single turnover. Simply remarkable.