Arizona and Colorado Renew Bitter Rivalry Dating Back to Last-Second Shot

The Arizona-Colorado rivalry can be traced to the Buffs’ second season in the Pac-12

Posted on December 28, 2020

Dane Miller
  By Dane Miller, SportsPac12

The Wildcats and Buffaloes take their distaste for each other to the next point of demarcation tonight.


The game projects to have an impact on the race for the Top 4 seeds in the Pac-12 Tournament.

Colorado at Arizona

Monday, December 28th
6:30 pm PT, Pac-12 Network

The history of bitterness in the Arizona-Colorado rivalry can be traced to the Buffs’ second season in the Pac-12. The Wildcats were ranked No. 3 in the country and CU’s Sabatino Chen appeared to hit a last-second game-winning three in Tucson. That perception changed when the wily video coordinator at McKale Center waited until the refs were at the monitor to show the replay to the crowd.

At just the right time, the angle that showed the ball still in Chen’s hand as time ran out caused the 14,500-strong crowd to erupt in anger. The refs looked at each other awkwardly—perhaps a bit fearful of the repercussions of jilting such a large crowd—then waived off the basket.


What followed that afternoon and over the next several seasons lingers to this day, as the Cats managed to beat CU in overtime on that fateful day in 2013. The very next year, Colorado’s Xavier Johnson famously said after a loss to the Wildcats in Tucson, “We have better players than them, I think,” and that the return trip to Boulder would be, “a 20-point blowout,” in favor of CU.

Four weeks later, No. 4 Arizona beat the Buffaloes by 28 in Boulder.

The rest is history. The animosity is real.

—Recent Dane Miller Stories—