Coach Sean Miller thinks Arizona can win back-to-back Pac-12 tournament championships if it can be consistent defensively.
That wasn't the problem against Colorado last month.
Gabe York looks to redeem himself against the fifth-seeded Buffaloes and continue his superb shooting as the No. 15 Wildcats begin their title defense Thursday.
Arizona (24-7) has struggled to find consistency on the defensive end, giving up an average of 61.8 points in 13 nonconference games compared to 72.2 while going 12-6 in the Pac-12.
The fourth-seeded Wildcats, though, showed improvement over the final week of the regular season, beating then-No. 25 California 64-61 last Thursday and routing Stanford 94-62 two days later. They held those teams to a combined 37.4 percent from the floor and 8 of 38 from 3-point range.
"I think we're in a good place," Miller said. "For us offense has been there as consistently as any team that we've had at Arizona. What's done us in on a number of occasions is inconsistent defense. When we're really consistent defensively with who we are on offense, that's the best Arizona team we can be."
The Wildcats surely weren't at their best in a 75-72 loss at Colorado on Feb. 24. However, it was their 3-point shooting that let them down. They converted 3 of 11 attempts, a major drop off from their league-leading 41.2 percent in conference play.
York had one of his worst performances of the season against the Buffaloes (22-10), scoring 11 points while missing 10 of 14 from the floor and 3 of 4 from long range. He enters this matchup after totaling 51 points while connecting on 17 of 28 from the field and 12 of 20 from 3-point range over the last two games.
His 32 points against Stanford were a career high and his nine 3s tied a team record.
"That performance had to rival the greats (in program history)," Miller said. "We played with a lot of confidence and a lot of unselfishness and Gabe was the beneficiary of that."
Extending that success over the next three days would give Arizona a solid chance to win consecutive conference tournaments for the first time since taking four straight from 1988-2002. The conference didn't have a tournament from 1991-2001.
"We're capable," Miller said. "I don't know if all 12 teams are, maybe three or four are and maybe we're one of them if we're at our best."
The Buffaloes are trying to reach the semifinals for the second time in three years, and they certainly looked capable while pounding Washington State 80-56 in the opening round Wednesday. George King hit 7 of 12 from the floor to score 21 after going 4 for 11 and totaling 11 points over the previous two games.
"It's a great feeling, especially after being in a slump the last couple games," King said. "It's like a little weight off my shoulders. Finally one goes in."
The sophomore guard had 14 points while sinking 3 of 6 3-pointers against Arizona last month, while Josh Scott's season-high 26 points led the way.
Scott, however, is averaging 10.7 points in three games since after scoring six against the Cougars.
The winner of this game will face top-seeded Oregon or eighth-seeded Washington in Friday's semifinals.