Arizona’s Jordin Mayes (20) drives against Utah’s Delon Wright (55) during the second half of their Pac-12 Tournament quarterfinal Thursday in
Arizona's Jordin Mayes (20) drives against Utah's Delon Wright (55) during the second half of their Pac-12 Tournament quarterfinal Thursday in Las Vegas. Arizona won 71-39. (Associated Press)

Colorado fans can only hope the Buffs got plenty of rest after their latest heart-stopping victory at the Pac-12 Tournament.

They'll need all the energy they can muster Friday against fourth-ranked Arizona.

For the second straight day, the fifth-seeded Buffs were pushed to the limit against a desperate opponent, this time a Cal squad that's on everyone's bubble watch. And for the second straight day, CU prevailed 59-56 when a last-second 3-pointer missed its mark.

The Buffs withstood a furious late rally by Justin Cobbs and the fourth-seeded Golden Bears just as they did Wednesday against No. 12 Southern Cal.

Now the Buffs get another crack at Sean Miller's Wildcats.

"I told these guys in the locker room, all you can ask for in life is an opportunity," CU coach Tad Boyle told BuffZone.com's Brian Howell. "We have an opportunity (Friday) to go play against one of the top teams in the country and prove ourselves."

Colorado and Cal played in what was easily the most exciting quarterfinal Thursday at the MGM Garden Arena in Las Vegas. (Second-seeded UCLA trounced No. 7 Oregon 82-63, and No. 6 Stanford clobbered No. 3 Arizona State 79-58 in later games.) But the buzz around the tournament was still the defensive magnum opus that was Arizona's 71-39 dismantling of No. 8 Utah.


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The Wildcats (29-3), winners of the Pac-12 regular-season title, set tournament records for fewest points allowed, fewest field goals (12), lowest shooting percentage (25) and fewest first-half points (13).

"They took pride in guarding us," Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak said to The Associated Press. "They took the life out of us."

And that was just their defense. The Wildcats also shot 52.9 percent from the floor, led by a 6-for-8 effort by guard T.J. McConnell, who had 14 points, three rebounds and three assists. Nick Johnson chipped in a game-high 14 points on 4-of-6 shooting.

This was against a quality major school. The Utes (21-11) won't be dancing on Selection Sunday, but they certainly weren't slouches.

The Wildcats just make teams seem that way when they are at their best.

One of the few teams that beat them this season, Oregon, was sent packing by a UCLA side playing to its potential for the first time in weeks. The Bruins, led by Kyle Anderson (11 points, 8 rebounds, 6 assists, 3 steals, 2 blocks), who, along with Jordan Adams, was suspended during Oregon's 87-83 double-overtime win at Pauley Pavilion on Feb. 27, shut down the Ducks' big guns while putting on a shooting display of their own.

UCLA (24-8) made 67 percent of their field goals, including an 8-for-16 mark from 3-point range, and put Oregon away for good with a wrap-around 12-0 scoring run.

The lone bright spot for Oregon (23-9), still a consensus NCAA Tournament lock, was Joseph Young (29 points).

The surprising ugliness of Day 2 extended into the late game, where Stanford (21-11) boosted its Big Dance hopes while taking a parting shot at Arizona State's.

The Cardinal, who like the Buffs will play a third game in as many days Friday, started both halves strong, building a 10-0 lead in the first and holding the Sun Devils (21-11) to zero field goals through the first four minutes of the second.

Chasson Randle led Stanford with 21 points, two rebounds four assists and two steals.

Arizona State's Jahii Carson and Jordan Bachynski never got going.

As of Friday morning, the Pac-12's likely tournament representatives hadn't changed to ESPN's Joe Lunardi or CBS Sports' Jerry Palm. Both Bracketologist still have Arizona, UCLA, Oregon, Colorado, Stanford and Arizona State in, and California out.

ESPN's Eamonn Brennan added Stanford and Arizona State to his "tournament locks" in his latest bubble watch.

Friday's semifinals:

Arizona vs. Colorado

7 p.m. Mountain

Pac-12 Network

The Wildcats have the edge in talent and "freshness," having played one tournament game in which their starters rested for most of the second half. The Buffs have the team-of-destiny angle going for them after two close wins. Askia Booker is making a case for tournament MVP. Colorado will have to dig deep for points and can't allow Arizona to get hot outside. The Wildcats embarrassed the Buffs in their two regular-season meetings.

For more on this, check out Howell's game preview.

UCLA vs. Stanford

9:30 p.m.

FS1

It's a classic rivalry game and a great matchup across the board. Both teams are playing their best basketball. While the home side won handily in their two regular-season meetings, it's hard to imagine this one not going down to the wire. UCLA has the edge in star power with Anderson, Adams and the Wear twins, but Stanford just shut down one of the most explosive teams in the conference in Arizona State. Cardinal center Dwight Powell is finally playing at a high level, and Randle has caught fire during a three-game win streak.

Follow Scott on Twitter @SJAdams