CU Above the Rim – March, 2014

March 20th – NCAA Tournament, 2nd round          Pittsburgh 77, Colorado 48

Pittsburgh scored the first 13 points of its NCAA tournament game against Colorado, never looking back on its way to a 77-48 win. The Panthers raced to a 46-18 halftime lead before coasting the rest of the way.

Colorado, finishing its season with a 23-12 record, was led by Josh Scott, with 14 points, and Xavier Johnson with 11. Askia Booker struggled all afternoon, finishing with six points on 2-of-9 shooting, together with four turnovers. For the game, the Buffs committed 17 turnovers, while forcing all of three turnovers out of the Panthers.

“Well, we’re obviously extremely disappointed with our performance today”, said Tad Boyle. “Credit goes to Pittsburgh. I don’t want to take anything away from them. They’re a great team. They’ve had a great year. They’re good players and a very good coach. But the Buffaloes for some reason or another did not play the way we’re capable of playing. As a coach you take responsibility for that, which I do, but we’re just very disappointed.

“I believe in all of our guys. These two guys sitting to my right, Josh and Xavier, are terrific young men with a high degree of character and they’re going to bounce back. The two I feel worst for are Ben Mills and Beau Gamble, our two seniors who don’t get a chance to play much. They come to practice every day and battle and they don’t get a chance to come back, but these guys do. The Buffaloes are down right now but we’re not out. We’re disappointed and we’re better than the way we played today, but that’s water under the bridge”.

Game Notes –

– Colorado ends the season with a 23-12 record

• Third most wins in school history (2010-11, 2011-12 teams won a school record 24 games).

• CU drops to 0-2 all-time against Pitt (last played Dec. 27, 1931 (25-23 in Denver).

• CU falls to 4-6 all-time against the ACC and 10-15 in NCAA Tournament games.

• Over the last four years, Buffs are now 13-6 in postseason games (1-3 NCAA, 9-2 conference, 3-1 NIT).

• CU is now 4-3 with the starting lineup of Booker, Talton, Gordon, Johnson, Scott.

• Fewest points in a half (18), field goals made in a half (5), and largest halftime margin (-28); previous lows were vs. Baylor 22 points and 7 fields goals made, and at Arizona -15 margin.

• 10 turnovers is second highest in a half this year (12 at ASU on Jan. 25).

• All 14 players on the active roster played.

• CU went 4-of-16 from three-point arc extending consecutive 3-point streak to 399-straight games (Jan. 16 2002).

• First time since 1979-80 season, CU has registered back-to-back games scoring less than 49 points (vs. Nebraska, 53-44, and at Missouri, 78-45.

– The 29-point defeat was the largest-ever for CU in the NCAA tournament. The previous low was a 73-46 loss to eventual national champion Cincinnati in 1962.

Game recap … Colorado had the opportunity to wear their home “whites” for the first time in an NCAA tournament game for the first time in over 40 years, playing as a higher seed for the first time since 1969. Instead of wearing home white uniforms against Pittsburgh, however, the Buffs wore gray.

Perhaps they should have worn white.

The Buffs came out against the Panthers tentative, with a held ball, a turnover, a missed jumper and another turnover helping Pitt race out to a 7-0 lead. A timeout by Tad Boyle didn’t help, with Pittsburgh taking a 9-0 lead into the under 16 media timeout.

A layup and a pair of free throws by Pitt made it a 13-0 game before Colorado got on board. A three-pointer by Wesley Gordon – at the 14:20 mark – made it 13-3, but Pitt quickly responded with a jumper to up the lead to 15-3. Josh Scott made a jumper to cut the lead to ten, but Pitt answered with a jumper and a pair of easy layups. Timeout No.2 for  Colorado, down 21-5 with 11 minutes left in the first half. At the under 12 media break, the Buffs had as many turnovers – five – as points.

Another Panther layup gave Pitt an 18-point lead, with Tre’ Shaun Fletcher making a pair of free throws to make the score 23-7. Pitt answered with three-pointer and a lauyup after a turnover making it the score look like a CU first half football game … 28-7. Another easy basket for the Panthers added to the embarrassment. Timeout No. 3 for Colorado, with the score 30-7. A Xavier Johnson basket was met by a three-pointer by Pitt. 33-9, Pitt, at the under eight timeout.

Askia Booker posted a pair of free throws to get CU into double digits in scoring with 5:41 to play in the first half. The teams then traded three-point plays, with Josh Scott picking up the basket and free throw for the Buffs. A Wesley Gordon tip in was more than accounted for by two more baskets for the Panthers. At the under four media timeout, Pitt had expanded the lead to 24 points, at 40-16.

In the final three minutes of the half, the carnage continued, as the Buffs posted all of two Jaron Hopkins free throws as the Panthers pushed the lead to a ridiculous 28 points at the break.

Halftime score: Pittsburgh 46, Colorado 18

The stats sheet at the break was as lopsided as the scoreboard. The most telling numbers at the half … Colorado field goals: 5; Colorado turnovers: 10. The Buffs hit on 29% of their first half shots; Pittsburgh 62%. As goes Askia Booker, so goes the Buffs. In the first half against Pittsburgh, Booker had three turnovers while going 0-for-4 from the field.

Okay, the Buffs were 7-for-7 from the free throw line … so it wasn’t all bad news.

Would the second half be a reverse of the first half … or a repeat?

Unfortunately for the Buff Nation, it was more of the same. Xavier Talton did hit a three-pointer, but Pitt countered with two layups and a pair of free throws to push the lead out even further, to 52-21. Over the next few minutes of play, the teams could only muster a free throw apiece (with CU’s courtesy of Wesley Gordon) before Askia Booker brought the Buffs back to less than a 30-point deficit, at 53-24, at the under 16 timeout.

Josh Scott made a free throw for the Buffs, but a three-point play for the Panthers pushed the lead to 56-25. The Buffs finally got a two-for-one, with a Josh Scott layup and a Xavier Johnson dunk better than a lone basket by Pitt. The teams then traded three-pointers, with Xavier Johnson’s three making it a 61-32 game. The Buffs then stayed even over the next few minutes, with Josh Scott free throws and an Askia Booker jumper matching a pair of layups for the Panthers. At the under eight timeout, it was all over except for the crying. Pittsburgh 65, Colorado 36.

After a Dustin Thomas free throw, two more layups by Pittsburgh pushed the lead out to 69-37 before a pair of Xavier Johnson pushed CU over the 40-point mark for the game. A layup by the Panthers made it a 30-point blowout at the last media timeout … Pitt 71, Colorado 41.

Josh Scott posted a pair of free throws and a jumper to counter two more made jumpers by the Panthers, keeping it a 30-point bulge for Pitt. The game ended with a layup for the Panthers and a three-pointer for CU senior Beau Gamble. The Buffs finished not even being able to win the second half (31-30).

Final score: Pittsburgh 77, Colorado 48

 

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March 19th

Getting around Josh Scott double-teams the key for the Buffs against Pitt

From CUBuffs.com … Ask Tad Boyle which Pac-12 team Pittsburgh reminds him of and there is no dallying, no dillying. No time needed to collect his thoughts. Catch and shoot.

“Arizona” is Boyle’s immediate answer.

If that doesn’t get your (and his team’s) attention you didn’t pay enough of that to the 2013-14 college basketball season. Arizona, for those needing a refresher, went 3-0 against Boyle’s Colorado Buffaloes, winning 69-57 in Tucson, 88-61 in Boulder and eliminating the Buffs 63-43 from last week’s Pac-12 Tournament.

… CU’s inside play – specifically the work of 6-10 sophomore Josh Scott – had been a consistent strength until last week’s Pac-12 Tournament. Scott takes a 14.1 scoring average and 8.5 rebounding average – both team bests – to Orlando, but he concedes he wasn’t up to par in the semifinal game in Vegas.

Averaging 12 points and 7.5 rebounds in wins against USC and Cal, Arizona limited him to four points (on 2-of-9 shooting) and two rebounds. He encountered quick double teams from the Wildcats almost as soon as he touched the ball.

“For me personally I know I need to work on those double teams,” he said, adding that all of his teammates will go to Orlando with personal improvement in mind. “I’m a big part of the team but I also know that I’m not the biggest . . . I obviously didn’t play well and we made it to the semifinals of the Pac-12. So we obviously have some good players. I wouldn’t say I’m a big part, but it certainly would help if I could play better than I did last week.”

IN THIS TOURNAMENT, BOYLE wants Scott to catch the ball “deeper on the block,” which will help in spacing and give Scott more room to work. There’s still the matter of the double-teams and Scott making good decisions passing out of them. But as Boyle noted, “In the game of basketball if there’s two guys guarding one of yours, somebody’s open – we’ve got to find that guy and get the ball moved. The fact that they double the post at times can be a good thing for us if we handle it the right way.”

Most of these Buffs were in Austin, Texas, last March and experienced the “one-and-done” emptiness that accompanied the 57-49 loss to Illinois. The previous season, CU won its first NCAA game against UNLV (68-64) before being eliminated by Baylor (80-63).

From the early out in Austin, said Scott, the Buffs learned “how much it stinks to lose in the first round. You don’t want that feeling . . . this is a different team, but you carry that with you and you don’t want it with you for the whole summer. We’re trying to get farther than we did last year.”

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March 17th

Getting to know Pitt

UPDATE … I was going off of the CU record book when I reported that Colorado and Pittsburgh had never played before. Apparently, that turned out to be incorrect. CUBuffs.com has posted the following …

After learning of a discrepancy between our official records and those of Pittsburgh between a game played between the two schools in 1931, we went digging to confirm the game did happen.  The following four articles are from the Boulder Daily Camera and Denver Post on Dec. 26, 1931 (game previews) and Dec. 27, 1931 (game recaps). Articles are typed in as they appeared in the newspapers. Thanks to Matthew Robins for additional information on the Temple of Youth, included at the end of this article. 

The game story … A whirlwind finish by Colorado university fell one basket short of tying the score and the celebrated Panthers from the University of Pittsburgh plucked a 25-to-23 victory from the fire over a stubborn Silver and Gold team in Saturday’s intersectional cage battle at Temple of Youth gym before a fair sized crowd.

The Panthers were in a precarious position as the timekeeper’s gun ended it, with fans on their feet yelling for State to make just one more goal.  But Pitt’s clever stalling game in the final two minutes of play choked the belated rally.  With both their regular guards out of the game on personals, the Panthers refused to take any chances of giving up the ball and bullet passes zipped from one player to another, up and down the floor, until the game ended.

Just the facts …

– Pittsburgh went 25-9 this season, with an 11-7 record in the Atlantic Coast Conference (good enough for 5th place).

– The Panthers are in the NCAA tournament for the 12th time in 13 years, and the second year in a row (Colorado is in for the third straight year, but for only the 13th time in school history).

– Pitt went 1-4 against ranked teams this year, including close losses to Syracuse (59-54; 58-56) and Virginia (51-48). Colorado went 2-6 against ranked teams this year, including three losses to Arizona.

– Colorado has a significant advantage in rebounding (50th nationally, to Pitt’s 103rd), but the Panthers are much better at posting assists (21st nationally, while CU is 264th).

The coach

– In his eleven years at Pitt, head coach Jamie Dixon has compiled an impressive 287-95 record, including two Big East regular season championships and a Big East tournament championship.

– Under Dixon, Pitt has earned a bid to the NCAA tournament in ten of his 11 years. He has taken one team (2008-09) to the Elite Eight, and two other teams to the Sweet Sixteen.

– One note of hope for the Buff Nation … Under Dixon, Pitt has never defeated a higher seed in the NCAA tournament …

The players …

– The player the Buffs need to stop on Thursday in guard Lamar Patterson. The 6’5″ senior leads the team in scoring (17.6 ppg) and assists (4.3 per game).

– Coming on strong for the Panthers is forward Talib Zanna. The 6’9″ senior from Nigeria leads the team in rebounds (8.8) and is second in scoring (12.9). In the ACC tournament, which includes wins over Wake Forest and No. 15 North Carolina, Zanna played well. Zanna went for 17 points and nine rebounds in an 84-55 win against Wake Forest, 19 and 21 against North Carolina and 15 and 9 in the 51-48 semi-final loss to eventual ACC tournament champion Virginia. “He’s a beast” teammate Michael Young said of Zanna.  “We’ve got to continue to get him the ball more,” Dixon said.

Pitt not lacking in confidence …

“We came here expecting to win this tournament,” Dixon told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette after nearing upsetting Virginia. “In no way are we satisfied about getting to the semifinals.

“Our guys are quiet in there. They’re angry and disappointed. I told them they have today to be angry and disappointed, but, after that, it’s all about preparation. We’ve got to move on. It’s all about getting ready for next week.”

The Pitt players talked as if they can’t wait to get back on the court.

“I’m confident in my team,” guard Cameron Wright said. “We lost this one, but we showed we can play with anybody in the country. I think we showed that all season. Even the games we lost, they were all close but the Duke game — and that was close until the second half.”

Young was even more optimistic.

“We definitely can win some games in the [NCAA] tournament. We just all have to be on the same page and do the right things. If we do that, I feel like no one can beat us. We can go all the way, in my opinion.”

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March 16th

Colorado makes history with third consecutive bid to NCAA tournament

Colorado will make its third consecutive trip to the NCAA basketball tournament, a first in school history (yes, it should be four straight, with the 2011 team being one of the “snubbed” teams on Selection Sunday three years ago).

Colorado earned a No. 8 seed, and will play No. 9 seed Pittsburgh in Orlando at 11:40 a.m. on Thursday. If the Buffs advance, they will face the overall No. 1 seed in the tournament, the Florida Gators, on Saturday.

“Traditionally, the eight-nine (seed) games are always really hard ones because there’s so much parity in the tournament and you’re matched up against somebody much like yourself,” Tad Boyle said. “Then if you are fortunate enough to advance, you get a one seed to look forward to. But in tournament basketball you don’t look ahead, you look at the task at hand.”

Boyle said merely reaching a third-consecutive NCAA Tournament after that coping with adversity would not put the Buffs among the “just-glad-to-be-there” crowd. “I’m not worried about that at all because I know how competitive our guys are,” he said. “Also, they’re smart guys and they know the next loss we have is the end of our season . . . it’s not going to be one of these deals where we’re just happy to be there and (go) one-and-out. If we’re one-and-out we’ll be disappointed. It’s not going to sit well with me or anybody. The next step for this program is to not only get in the tournament but to advance in the tournament.”

Pitt’s season … Pittsburgh has a 25-9 record overall, with an 11-7 record in the Atlantic Coast Conference. The Panthers opened the season with a 10-0 record, including an 88-67 win over Stanford in a Thanksgiving tournament. After winning six more games, Pitt lost a close game to No. 2 Syracuse, 59-54, in the Carrier Dome in mid-January.

Pitt had a bad home loss to No. 17 Duke, 80-65, but followed that with a close 48-45 loss to eventual ACC champion Virginia. On February 12th, Pitt had No. 1 Syracuse beaten, before the Orange hit a three-pointer at the buzzer to win, 58-56.

Needing a solid run in the ACC tournament to cement their status as a tournament team, Pitt beat Wake Forest and No. 15 North Carolina, 80-75, before falling to eventual tournament champions Virginia, 51-48, in the ACC semi-finals.

The Buffs and the Panthers have never met before (Colorado does own a 1-0 record over Penn State and a 2-0 record over Penn, if you are looking for a Pennsylvania connection).

Colorado has never been a No. 8 seed before. Colorado has only been invited to the Dance four times since the field was expanded and seeding was required. The Buffs have been a No. 9 seed once (1-1 record), a No. 10 seed twice (0-2), and a No. 11 seed once (1-1)

Pac-12 teams in the NCAA tournament

– No. 1 seed – Arizona – will play No. 16 seed Weber State in San Diego

– No. 4 seed – UCLA – will play No. 13 seed Tulsa in San Diego

– No. 7 seed – Oregon – will play No. 10 seed BYU in Milwaukee

– No. 10 seed – Arizona State – will play No. 7 seed Texas in Milwaukee

– No. 10 seed – Stanford – will play No. 7 seed New Mexico in St. Louis

NIT bids for the Pac-12

– No. 2 seed – California – will play No. 7 seed Utah Valley at home on Wednesday

– N0. 5 seed – Utah – will play No. 4 seed St. Mary’s on the road on Tuesday

 

Askia Booker named to Pac-12 All-Tournament team

From the Daily Camera … Colorado’s Askia Booker was named to the Pac-12 Tournament all-tourney team, which was announced on Saturday.

Booker led CU to a 2-1 record during the tournament, held at the MGM Grand Garden Arena. He averaged 16.7 points, 5.3 rebounds and 3.0 assists, while committing just four turnovers during the entire week.

Joining Booker on the All-Tournament team was Aaron Gordon and Nick Johnson of Arizona; Joseph Young of Oregon; Chasson Randle of Stanford; and Kyle Anderson of UCLA. Anderson was named the most outstanding player.

—-

 

March 14th – Pac-12 tournament in Las Vegas          No. 4 Arizona  63, Colorado 43

There are no moral victories in tournament play, but Colorado, which had fallen behind Arizona 18-4 and 17-3 in their two previous meetings, managed to make it a game for a half (27-24) against the Wildcats in the Pac-12 semi-finals. Poor shooting finally caught up to the Buffs, though, in the second half, with No. 4 Arizona going on to rout Colorado, 63-43, to move on to the Pac-12 championship game.

Colorado was led by Askia Booker, who had 12 points (on 4-of-14 shooting) and Xavier Johnson, with 11 points (4-of-11). Overall, Colorado shot 29.4% from the field, only marginally better than the record-setting 25.5% shot by Utah the night before. The Buffs did hold the Wildcats to 37.9% shooting in the first half, but Arizona shot 60% (12-of-20) in the second half to turn a close game into a 20-point victory.

“We’re disappointed in this result, but we lost to a darn good Arizona team,” said Tad Boyle. “I think the first thing you have to do is tip your hat to them. They’re a hell of a team, hell of a program. They’ve had an unbelievable year … I thought in the first half we really battled. In the second half, that thing got away from us quick. If Arizona makes shots and the way they guard consistently, they’ve got a chance to win a National Championship”.

 Game Notes –

• CU is now 11-15 against nationally ranked opponents and 5-9 against the nation’s Top-10 under Boyle. • CU is 2-6 against ranked opponents this season.

• CU has now lost three-straight games to Arizona.

• CU/Arizona series is tied 11-11.

• CU trails in the Pac-12 series to Arizona, 6-3 and 2-1 in Pac-12 Tournament games.

• Tad Boyle and the Buffs are still an impressive 7-2 in the Pac-10/Pac-12 Conference Tournament history (.778). Record and winning percentage still rank first despite loss on Friday.

• The Buffs are now 13-6 in postseason games (9-3 conference, 3-1 NIT, 1-2 NCAA) over the last four years. • Colorado held Arizona to 27 points, marking the third lowest scoring output for the Wildcats in a first half this season (the other two: Drexl – 20; Arizona State – 26).

Game recap … Pretty much anything short of an embarrassing blowout would have been an improvement for the Buffs as they took on the Wildcats for the third time in the 2013-14 season. Arizona ran out to 18-4 and 17-3 leads in the two games previous against Colorado, and had mauled Utah in the quarterfinals, giving up all of 13 first half points to the Utes on their way to a record-setting 71-39 drubbing.

So when the Buffs took a 2-0 lead over the Wildcats in the first 90 seconds of their semi-final matchup in the Pac-12 tournament, it was something of a moral victory. Xavier Johnson’s jumper, though, was quickly matched by a jumper from the Wildcats. When Arizona took the lead on a layup a few moments later, it was the Buffs’ turn to tie up the game, with Askia Booker getting on the board with a layup. Another jumper by Booker five minutes into the game again tied the score, this time at 6-6. Not exactly domination from the Buffs … but it wasn’t domination by the Wildcats, either.

At the 13-minute mark, Dustin Thomas made a layup, tying the game at 8-apiece. A three-pointer by the Wildcats, followed by a free throw a few minutes later, gave Arizona a 12-8 lead. Dustin Thomas posted his second basket to make it a 12-10 game, with Arizona then making it 14-10 with a basket of its own.

With just under ten minutes to play before the break, Xavier Talton hit a three-pointer to make it a one point game, at 14-13, but then the Wildcats went on a run. The Buffs – again – hit an offensive lull, this one lasting four minutes. In the meantime, Arizona posted three baskets, including two three-pointers, to make it an 8-0 surge and a 22-13 game.

Xavier Johnson scored his first points of the game at the 5:37 mark with a three-pointer, with Josh Scott making his first entry in the scoring books with a jumper of his own to make the new score 22-18. After an Arizona basket, Jaron Hopkins made a layup to make it a 24-20 game with three minutes remaining before half. A Xavier Johnson three-pointer after the final media timeout made it 24-23, with Johnson adding a free throw with 34 seconds left in the half to tie the game again, this time at 24-24.

A three-pointer by the Wildcats, though, with just three seconds remaining before the break, gave Arizona the halftime advantage.

Halftime score: No. 4 Arizona 27, Colorado 24

For a team making only 34.5% of its field goal attempts – and only 20% (1-for-5) of their free throw attempts – Colorado was doing well to be within three points of the No. 4 team in the country.  Throw in the fact that the Buffs were being out-rebounded, 25-15, and it was hard to understand why it was still a game.

The answer was defense. Arizona was only connecting on 37.9% of its field goal attempts, and the Buffs had forced eight first half turnovers, while posting only two of their own.

The two teams traded jumpers in the first two minutes of the second half, with CU’s being posted by Josh Scott. A dunk by the Wildcats was then offset by a pair of free throws by Askia Booker. With 16:50 to play, the score was 31-28, and it was still anybody’s game.

Then the Wildcats began to create some distance between the two teams. Over the next two minutes, Arizona out-scored Colorado 7-1 on a pair of dunks and a three-pointer. A three-point play by Askia Booker made it a 38-32 game …

… and then it got ugly.

Colorado then went on a six-plus minute scoreless streak, with Arizona taking the opportunity to turn a close game into a rout. The Wildcats out-scored the Buffs 13-0 during the run, with Colorado missing nine straight shots. By the time the carnage was over, it was a 51-32 game, and less than eight minutes remained to be played. An Askia Booker jumper at the 7:28 mark put an end to the bleeding, but the fatal blow had been delivered.

Though almost eight minutes remained to be played, the only interested parties seemed to be the Wildcats, bent on running up the score as much as possible to make the game look to the casual observer to be a runaway from the outset.

Over the next three minutes after the under eight media timeout, Arizona out-scored Colorado 8-3, with the Buffs’ only points coming on a Xavier Talton three-pointer. Arizona 59, Colorado 37 before Talton made it a 20-point game with two free throws right before the last media break.

A free throw by Arizona gave the Wildcats 60 points, with Colorado breaking the 40-point barrier with a pair of free throws by Wesley Gordon and a jumper by Xavier Johnson. Three free throws by the Wildcats over the final three minutes closed out the scoring.

Final score: No. 4 Arizona 63, Colorado 43 

—–

 

March 13th – Pac-12 tournament in Las Vegas          Colorado 59, California 56

Survive and advance.

For the second afternoon in a row, Colorado beat a Pac-12 opponent by the score of 59-56, this time California.

For the second afternoon in a row, the Buffs had to survive a three-point attempt at the final horn to advance.

Justin Cobbs, who scored 21 points in an overtime victory over Colorado last Saturday, had 21 points again against the Buffs in the Pac-12 tournament quarterfinals, but he missed three-point attempt with a second to play, allowing the Buffs their revenge.

Four Buffs scored in double figures in a balanced attack. Colorado was led by Askia Booker, who had 17 points, including a pair of free throws with 12 seconds remaining which proved to be the decisive points in the game. Xavier Talton had 13 points, including three-of-five from three-point range, while Josh Scott and Xavier Johnson had 11 and ten points, respectively.

Game Notes …

– Colorado evens all-time series with California, 12-12; CU is now 4-3 against Cal in Pac-12-only games

– CU and Coach Boyle improve to 5-3 against the Bears

– CU is now 2-2 on neutral court games this season, both wins at the Pac-12 Tournament

– CU won its 23 games this season, the third most victories in school history. Coach Boyle owns all three (24 wins in each of the 2011-12 and 2010-11 seasons)

– CU advances to the Pac-12 semifinals for the second time in three years of the Pac-12 Tournament

– The Buffs are now 13-5 in postseason games (9-2 conference, 3-1 NIT, 1-2 NCAA) under Coach Boyle

– .722 postseason winning percentage under Boyle ranks first in school history

– Also a 15-10 (.600) record on neutral courts, third overall at CU

– Boyle has won 92 games in four seasons, most wins in any four-year span in school history (92-48, .657)

– CU is 3-0 against Cal in postseason games

Game Recap … The game between Colorado and California opened with two tight teams, with a grand total of eight points being scored between the two teams before the first media timeout. Xavier Talton and Josh Scott posted the baskets for CU, as the Buffs overcame 2-0 and 4-2 deficits.

When Xavier Johnson hit a three-pointer at the 15:21 mark of the first half, the Buffs took the lead … for good. Askia Booker then hit a pair of jumpers, offset by only one bucket for the Bears, giving Colorado an 11-6 advantage. Josh Scott hit a pair of free throws, followed by a three-pointer by Xavier Talton, with Cal hitting a pair of baskets in between, leaving the Buffs with a 16-10 lead at the under 12 minute timeout.

A Dustin Thomas layup pushed the advantage to 18-10, Buffs, with Jaron Hopkins hitting a free throw and throwing down a dunk, prompting a Cal timeout with nine minutes to play in the first half. Colorado 21, California 10.

A pair of three-pointers by the Bears made it a game again at 21-16, but Askia Booker answered with a three-pointer from the corner to push the lead back up to eight. Booker then posted a layup to make it 26-16, with Xavier Johnson giving Colorado its largest lead of the game, at 29-16, with four minutes before the break.

The Buffs ran out of steam over the last few minutes of the first half, however, as the Bears put together a 6-2 run to bring the lead back to single digits.

Halftime score: Colorado 31, California 22

Any comfort Buff fans might have had with a nine-point lead at halftime quickly evaporated as the Bears hit a pair of three-pointers to open the second half to make it a 31-28 game. Askia Booker then took over for the Buffs, scoring two baskets to push the lead back out to seven points, at 35-28. Before the under 16 timeout, Cal out-scored Colorado 4-2, with the Buffs’ only points coming on a Xavier Talton jumper. Colorado 37, Cal 32.

Over the next few minutes, the teams traded baskets, with a Xavier Talton three-pointer, an Askia Booker layup, and a Josh Scott free throw countering three baskets by the Bears. With the lead at six points, at 43-37, the Buffs tried to pull away. A Wesley Gordon dunk and a Xavier Johnson jumper gave the Buffs’ back a double-digit advantage.

Cal timeout. Colorado 47, California 37 … 11:27 to play.

Unfortunately, instead of pulling away from the Bears, the Buffs then went into one of their (occasionally fatal) scoring droughts. Over the next four minutes the Buffs scored all of two points, as the Bears chipped away at CU’s lead. Cal went on an 11-2 run overall, capped by a dunk by Justin Cobbs with 6:37 to play. Timeout, Colorado, with the Buffs’ lead all but evaporated … Colorado 49, Cal 48.

Two tense minutes later, Xavier Talton hit a three-pointer to push the CU advantage back to four, at 52-48. Less than 20 seconds later, though, it was a one-point game again as Justin Cobbs hit a three-pointer of his own. At the four minute mark, Josh Scott hit a jumper to make it a 54-51 game.

After the final media timeout, Josh Scott hit a pair of free throws, giving CU a 56-51 advantage with 2:45 to play. Again, Justin Cobbs came to the Bears’ rescue, making a three-point play to make it 56-54 with 2:24 to play.

The teams then traded missed three-pointers, missed jumpers, and missed free throws, with a Colorado turnover with 26 seconds to play giving the ball back to Cal. The Bears had a chance to tie or take the lead, but Justin Cobbs missed a jumper with 16 seconds to play. Askia Booker was fouled with 12 seconds to play, giving CU a four-point bulge at 58-54.

The game was far from over, though.

Justin Cobbs sliced through the Buffs’ defense for a layup with eight seconds to play. Colorado 58, Cal 56. Eli Stalzer was then fouled with six seconds to play, with a chance to put the game away. Stalzer hit the first free throw to make it a three-point game, but missed the second, giving Cal a chance to tie.

Just like 24 hours earlier, the Buffs’ opponent took the ball with five seconds to play, drove the length of the court, took a shot at the buzzer to tie … and missed.

Survive and advance, Colorado.

Final score: Colorado 59, California 56

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March 11th – Pac-12 tournament in Las Vegas          Colorado 59, USC 56

Colorado had an eight point lead, at 58-50, with just over three minutes to play, but scored only one point the remainder of the game, hanging on to beat USC in the first round of the Pac-12 tournament, 59-56.

Askia Booker had 21 points, seven rebounds and four assists to lead the Buffs, with Josh Scott (13 points, 11 rebounds) and Xavier Johnson(13 points, three rebounds) also getting into double figures.

The Buffs, now 22-10 on the season, now move on to face the No. 4 seeded Cal Bears (3:30 Thursday, Pac-12 Networks)

Game Notes –

• Colorado improves to 5-0 over USC in Pac-12 games and 7-3 all-time.

• Season sweep of USC of all three games this season. Last time, CU won three games over an opponent in one season was Utah in 2011-12, the season they won the Pac-12 Tournament Championship.

• CU wins its 22nd game on the year, tying for the fourth most wins in a season. Coach Boyle owns three of the top four winningest seasons.

• CU advances past the first round in four straight post-season tournaments under Coach Boyle (2011 Big 12: semifinals; 2012 Pac-12: Title Game; 2013: Quarterfinals; 2014: Quarterfinals).

• CU was the No. 5 seed last year at the MGM, defeating Oregon State in the first round.

• The Buffaloes are 1-2 in neutral court games this season and 1-1 at the MGM (lost to then-No. 7/7 Oklahoma State, 78-73 on Dec. 21, 2013).

• The Buffs are now 12-5 in postseason games (8-2 conference, 3-1 NIT, 1-2 NCAA) under Coach Boyle.

• .706 postseason winning percentage under Boyle ranks first in school history.

• Also a 14-10 (.583) record on neutral courts, third overall at CU.

• Boyle has won 91 games in four seasons, most wins in any four-year span in school history (91-48).

Game recap … USC came into its first round game of the Pac-12 tournament against Colorado with nothing to lose. At 11-20, the 12th-seeded Trojans knew it would take four huge upsets to advance to the NCAA tournament, and that was not likely to occur.

So why not play loose?

USC did just that, opening the game against Colorado with a 4-0 lead. The Buffs then woke up, responding with a 10-0 run, with baskets by Wesley Gordon and Askia Booker being followed by two three-pointers by Xavier Johnson. Instead of folding, however, USC responded with an 8-2 run of their own, with Bryon Wesley getting six of those points, tying the game at 12-all at the under 12 minute timeout.

After the break, USC took the lead at 14-12 before jumpers by Xavier Talton and Dustin Thomas gave the lead back to Colorado. The Trojans then got a pair of baskets to offset one for Askia Booker, tying the game at 18-all at the under eight media break.

As the first half wound down, it appeared as if the Buffs were prepared to take control. A jumper by Xavier Talton, a layup by Askia Booker, and a free throw from Josh Scott gave Colorado its biggest lead of the first half, at 23-18, with five minutes to play. Once again, however, the Trojans refused to go away, out-scoring the Buffs 9-6 over the final four minutes, with CU’s points coming by way of a pair of jumpers (by Wesley Gordon and Xavier Johnson) and a dunk (by Gordon).

Halftime score: Colorado 29, USC 27

Josh Scott, who had more turnovers (2) than points (1) in the first half, finally got into the scoring rhythm with a pair of free throws and a jumper in the first two minutes of the second half, but Scott’s four points were offset by a layup and a three-pointer by the Trojans, leaving the Buffs with a precarious 33-32 lead.

Askia Booker and Wesley Gordon then hit jumpers, but these four points were again more than covered by a pair of baskets – including a three-pointer – by USC, tying the game at 37-all five minutes into the second half. A jumper by Booker pushed CU out to a 39-37 lead, but then USC took its first lead of the second half with its third three-pointer after the break, taking a 40-39 advantage. Josh Scott hit one of two free throws to tie the game at 40-all at the under 12 break, but the Buff Nation was now well aware that this was not to be a runaway win for Colorado.

The Trojan fans had something to cheer about when three-pointer No. 4 of the second half went down, with a layup soon thereafter giving USC its biggest lead of the game, at 45-40, as the teams approached the midway point of the second half. Askia Booker then took the team on his shoulders, scoring the next seven points for the Buffs, pulling Colorado to within two, at 49-47. Xavier Johnson then tied the game at 49-all with a layup off of a Booker assist.

After the under eight media timeout, the teams each got one of two free throws from the line to make it a 50-50 game. Then it was Josh Scott’s turn to take over for the Buffs. Over the next four minutes, Scott personally out-scored USC 6-0 on a pair of layups and a jumper. Then, when Askia Booker scored on a driving layup to make it an eight point game, it appeared that the Buffs had finally taken control.

Timeout, USC, with the score 58-50 with 3:06 to play.

Instead of having a relaxing finish, though, the Buffs went into a scoring drought, posting only one point the remainder of the game. With the Buffs having gone cold, the Trojans slowly chipped away at the lead … a layup with 3:01 to play … 58-52 … a layup with 2:03 to play … 58-54 … a jumper with 47 seconds to play after Josh Scott made one of two free throws at the 57 second mark … 59-56.

After the Trojans’ final basket, the Buffs ran the clock down before Xavier Talton – who missed a three-pointer which would have beaten Cal five days earlier – missed a three-pointer with 13 seconds to play. The miss, though, was not recovered by the Trojans, instead caroming off towards the sideline. There, as he fell out-of-bounds, Askia Booker smartly threw the ball off of a USC defender. Colorado ball, with a three point lead and only ten seconds to play.

The Buffs inbounded the ball to an open Josh Scott, who, instead of waiting to be fouled, went for a game-clinching basket. Scott missed the layup, though, giving the Trojans one last chance. USC drove the ball upcourt, and had a good look at a three-pointer which would have tied the game, but Byron Wesley’s shot bounced off the rim as the final horn sounded.

Final score: Colorado 59, USC 56

——

 

March 10th

Bracketology – Colorado still in the “should be in” category

Colorado was one basket away from being a sure thing.

The Buffs lost by one point in overtime against Cal on Saturday night, with the ball in hand with a chance to win in the final seconds of both regulation and overtime. A victory would have clinched a third place finish in the Pac-12, and pretty much settled all questions about the Buffs’ tournament worthiness.

Instead, it will be a week of concern for the Buff Nation … especially if the Buffs lose to USC on Wednesday afternoon.

For now, Colorado seems to be well within the cut line, but a loss to USC on Wednesday … well, we won’t go there.

Colorado remains a Number 10 seed this week, according to Joe Lunardi at ESPN.com, and now lists (along with CBS) the Pac-12 as receiving seven total bids to the tournament.

Over at CBSSports.com, the Buffs jumped up two spots to a No. 9 seed after beating Stanford, and remain there even after the loss to Cal.

Sounds good, but here’s what the ESPN “Bubble Watch” had to say about your Buffs:

Colorado [21-10 (10-8), RPI: 30, SOS: 12] After Saturday’s one-point loss at Cal, there may be slight reason for concern. The committee still might look at Colorado’s record without Spencer Dinwiddie — it’s 7-8, including the Washington game when he was injured — and raise an eyebrow. The Watch still thinks the Buffaloes’ overall profile is strong enough to overcome those concerns barring anything disastrous in the Pac-12 tournament. A tourney-opening loss to USC on Wednesday might qualify.

Other teams of note:

– Arizona – No. 1 seed in both brackets

– Kansas – Down to a No. 2 seed in the ESPN bracket; still a No. 2 seed in CBS’s

– UCLA – Down one slot to a No. 6 seed in ESPN bracket; No. 7 in CBS’s

– Arizona State – No. 8 seed in ESPN bracket; down to a No. 9 seed in CBS’s

– Stanford – Down one spot to a No. 10 in CBS bracket; remains a No. 10 seed in ESPN’s

– Cal – One of the “first four out” in both brackets, despite the win over Colorado (No. 1 on ESPN’s list of first four out teams, No. 3 in CBS’s, which means, of course, that if Colorado beats USC, the Buffs will – once again – be playing a Cal team with its tournament life on the line)

– Oklahoma State – Up one spot in both to No. 9 seed in CBS brackets; No. 10 in ESPN’s

– Harvard – Up to a No. 11 seed in ESPN’s bracket; a No. 12 seed in CBS’s (already in tournament having won the Ivy League title)

– Oregon – Jumped two spots to a safe No. 8 seed in both brackets

—-

 

March 8th – at Berkeley          California 66, Colorado 65 OT

In the preseason media poll, the Colorado Buffaloes were picked to finish third in the Pac-12. After a 66-65 loss to overtime to Cal, the Buffs finished with a 10-8 record in Pac-12 play. Yes, the Buffs finished third, as projected, but finished in a five way tie for third place. Under Pac-12 tie-breaker rules, the Buffs, who would have finished third with a bye had they won, finished fifth instead.

Xavier Johnson led the Buffs with 24 points, with Askia Booker posting 11 (on 5-of-13 shooting). Josh Scott posted his 13th double-double of the season, with ten points and ten rebounds, but it was not enough to offset 21 points by Cal star Justin Cobbs.

“It’s disappointing one team had to lose that game,” Boyle said. “We came up a little bit short, we had our chances though and our guys battled and I’m proud of their effort.”

Seeking their 22nd win, Boyle’s Buffs would have claimed the program record for most victories in a regular season, but instead will have to settle for a tie with the 1996-97 Buffs, who were led by Chauncey Billups.

“We wanted to make history,” Boyle said. “But we’ve still had a heck of a year and now we have to move forward and have a short memory . . . we’ll be ready to go (in the Pac-12 tourney); we just have to win that first one and live to see another day because it’s win or go home.”

… Colorado’s next game will be Wednesday at 3:30 p.m. against USC in the Pac-12 tournament in Las Vegas …

Game Notes –

– CU ends Pac-12 Conference season with 10-8 record, matching CU’s mark last season.

– California moves ahead in the all-time series, 12-11 and ties Pac-12 series 3-3.

– Coach Boyle teams are 4-3 all-time against Cal.

– CU drops to 1-10 in Berkeley and 0-3 at Haas Pavilion since last winning Dec. 7, 2004 (63-60).

– CU’s 21 wins ties third most wins in any season of the program.

– Third time this season, second straight (Washington State, Feb. 5), three starting players from state of Colorado (Gordon, Scott, Talton).

– CU made nine free throws moving over 600 made in a season (607) for the only third time in school history (679: 2010-11; 612: 1954-55).

 

—-

After Oregon State upset Arizona State in overtime during the first half of the Colorado game at California, the game between the Buffs and the Bears took on even greater importance. Not only were the two teams playing for a less stressful Selection Sunday, they were playing for a bye in the Pac-12 tournament.

A win by Colorado would give the Buffs an 11-7 Pac-12 record and a No. 3 seed in the conference tournament. A loss, however, would create a five-way tie at 10-8 in the league standings amongst Colorado, California, Oregon, Arizona State, and Stanford. Based upon the Pac-12 tie-breakers, Arizona State would move into the No. 3 spot (based upon a 5-3 record amongst the other four teams), Cal would move into the No. 4 spot (3-3 against others), with Colorado slipping to No. 5 in Las Vegas (beating out Oregon and Stanford based upon a 2-0 record over the Ducks and Cardinal).

Game recap … Colorado and California tipped off not knowing their fates in terms of Pac-12 seeding, but both knew a victory over the other would help their NCAA resumes. Cal opened the game with a layup on their first possession, with Colorado entering the scoring column with a Xavier Johnson jumper off of an offensive rebound a minute later. After the Bears took a 5-2 lead with a three-pointer, Xavier Talton made a layup to make it a one point game. The teams then traded baskets (Wesley Gordon scoring for the Buffs) to make it a 7-6 Cal lead at the under 16 timeout.

A three-pointer for the Bears upped the lead to 10-6, with Xavier Johnson cutting the lead in half with a jumper. After Cal got a layup for a 12-8 lead, though, Xavier Johnson took over for the Buffs. A three-pointer off of an assist from Askia Booker cut the lead to 12-11, with Johnson then giving CU its first lead with a layup at the 11:43 mark of the first half.

Two free throws by Johnson after the under 12 timeout gave him 11 points, and gave the Buffs a 15-12 lead. Xavier Johnson then hit a three-pointer, giving him 12 straight points for the Buffs, and a personal 10-0 run over the Bears. Colorado 18, Cal 12, at the midway point of the first half.

Cal, though, responded with a 9-0 run of its own, with a three-pointer and three baskets to take a 21-18 lead. A Wesley Gordon jumper with six minutes to play before the break ended a four minute drought for the Buffs, making it 21-20. Cal then made two of four free throws to take a 23-20 lead, with Xavier Talton hitting a three to tie the score at the under four media timeout.

A pair of jumpers for the Buffs, one by Jaron Hopkins and the other by Josh Scott, gave the Buffs a 7-0 run and a 27-23 lead. In the final two minutes of the half, Askia Booker for the Buffs and Justin Cobbs for the Bears traded field goals, with one of Cobbs’ field goals being a three-pointer right before the horn.

Halftime score: Colorado 31, California 28

At the half, Xavier Johnson had 14 of CU’s 31 points, with Xavier Talton (with five) being the only other Buff with more than four points. The Buffs did have a commanding lead on the boards, with 22 to California’s 11, but seven first half turnovers and yet another prolonged scoring drought kept the Buffs from creating more than a three point advantage after the first twenty minutes.

Both teams opened the second half hot, with the Buffs and Bears both making their first two attempts from the field. The Buff baskets were by Wesley Gordon and Xavier Johnson, making it a 35-32 game. A three-pointer by the Bears then tied the score at 35-35 at the 17:31 mark.

After the under 16 timeout, Justin Cobbs hit a three-pointer for the Bears, giving Cal its first lead of the second half at 38-35. A Josh Scott jumper finally ended a four-minute drought for the Buffs, with a Xavier Johnson tip-in of his own missed jumper giving the Buffs the lead back at 39-38 with 14 minutes to play. The Bears responded with a jumper to give Cal the lead back, but a Jaron Hopkins three-pointer restored the lead for the Buffs, at 42-40, heading into the under 12 media break.

Jaron Hopkins missed a pair of free throws which would have extended the CU lead, with Cal tying the game with a layup at the other end. Xavier Johnson then went over the 20-point mark, with a three-pointer giving him 21 of CU’s 45 points. Dustin Thomas then hit a jumper after a three-point miss by Cal, giving the Buffs a 47-42 lead, prompting a timeout from Cal with 9:43 to play.

A missed jumper by Cal was answered by a three-pointer by Askia Booker, giving the Buffs a 50-42 lead. The CU run then went to 9-0 when Xavier Johnson made one of two free throws. Cal next cut into the Buffs’ largest lead of the game with a layup and one of two free throws, making it a 51-45 game at the under eight timeout.

Out of the break, Josh Scott made one of two free throws to give Colorado a seven point lead. The teams then traded baskets, with Justin Cobbs and Josh Scott scoring for their respective teams. A layup by the Bears made it a 54-49 game, with Cal making a pair of free throws to make it a three point game with 4:46 left to play. As the third scoring drought of the game for the Buffs continued, the Bears made a jumper to make it 54-53. A jumper by Cal at the 3:26 mark gave the Bears an 8-0 run and a 55-54 lead.

Josh Scott made one of two free throws to end yet another four minute scoring drought for the Buffs, but a layup on the other end gave Cal a two point lead, at 57-55. At the 1:23 mark, Xavier Johnson hit a pair of free throws to tie the game. Cal had two opportunities to take the lead on its next possession, but a Josh Scott block gave the ball back to the Buffs. Askia Booker then made a layup to give Colorado the lead back, at 59-57. Timeout, California, with 41 seconds to play. Justin Cobbs then calmly hit a pair of free throws at the 29 second mark. Timeout, Colorado, to set up the final shot of regulation.

But … nothing for the Buffs. A turnover by Xavier Talton without a shot being taken ended the game in a tie.

Overtime.

End of Regulation: Colorado 59, California 59

Wesley Gordon gave Colorado the first lead of overtime with a jumper, with one of two free throws by the Bears making it a 61-60 game. Two free throws by Josh Scott then upped the CU lead to three points with 3:43 to play in overtime. Two free throws by the Bears with two minutes to play again made it a one point game, at 63-62.

The Bears then got not one, not two, but three offensive rebounds on the next possession, with a Wesley Gordon foul with 58 seconds putting the Bears on the line. Two free throws later, and Cal had its first lead of overtime, at 64-63. Timeout, Colorado. Then Askia Booker, who had missed two shots in the Buffs’ previous two possessions, made a layup to give the Buffs the lead back, at 65-64.

Two free throws by- who else? – Justin Cobbs, gave Cal the lead back at 66-65, with 21 seconds to play. Once again, the Buffs had the chance at a victory with a made basket.

And once again, the Buffs failed. A missed three-point attempt by Xavier Talton with eight seconds left gave Cal the ball with the lead. A foul with four seconds left put the Bears on the line. A missed free throw gave the Buffs a chance, but an Askia Booker three pointer was off.

Final score: California 66, Colorado 65 OT

 

——

March  7th – at Seattle           No. 4 Stanford 69, Colorado 54

From ESPN … Chiney Ogwumike scored 13 of her 19 points in the second half, and No. 4 Stanford overcame its worst scoring first half of the season to knock off pesky Colorado 69-54 in the quarterfinals of the Pac-12 Conference tournament Friday.

Ogwumike, the conference player of the year, gave Stanford the lead for good with a rare 3-pointer early in the second half that was part of a 16-2 run by the Cardinal to take control.

Stanford, the top seed in the tournament, was held to a season-low 21 points in the first half. The Cardinal (29-2) will face either No. 5 seed USC or fourth-seeded Arizona State in the semifinals Saturday night. Stanford has won seven straight conference tourney titles.

Colorado (17-14) was led by 16 points from Brittany Wilson.

Stanford outscored Colorado 48-31 in the second half, starting to knock down perimeter shots. Bonnie Samuelson and Lili Thompson both added 15 points.

Haley Smith was the only other Colorado player in double figures with 10. After using the 3-pointer to hang around in the first half, the Buffaloes made just 2 of 10 in the final 20 minutes.

——

 

March 5th – at Palo Alto           Colorado 59, Stanford 56

Josh Scott posted his 12th double-double of the season, collecting 11 rebounds and posting 17 points, with no two more important than two free throws in the final minute as Colorado held on to defeat Stanford, 59-56.

Xavier Johnson was the only other Buff in double figures, with 14 points, as the Buffs endured yet another second half scoring drought – no points for eight minutes – before scoring just enough down the stretch to hold off the Cardinal. Stanford’s Chasson Randle was a one-man stampede through the Buffs’ defense, going for 24 points on 9-of-18 shooting (4-of-7 on three-pointers).

The victory gave CU its 21st regular season win, only the sixth time in 113 years of basketball CU has won 21 or more games in a season (and the fourth straight year – so yes, your math is correct … two 21-win seasons in 109 years of basketball; four 21-win seasons in four years under Tad Boyle). The win also gave the Buffs double digit conference victories for the third straight season – something never done before in CU history.

“Getting a victory like this on the road is huge for our team,” CU coach Tad Boyle said on KOA Radio 850. “This team has an opportunity to set itself apart from any other team in the University of Colorado basketball history.”

Securing the win, Boyle continued, “wasn’t easy. Our defense played good enough to keep us in the game until our offense got back going.”

Game Notes –

• CU ties a regular season school-best 21st victory (1996-97 team).

•CU is now 13-1 in single-digit games (4-0 on the road).

•Third straight year CU has won double-digit Pac-12 Conference games, a school record for conference wins in a season.

•CU breaks a two-game losing skid, its longest of the season.

•The Buffaloes still trail Stanford in the series, 9-6, however leads the Cardinal 3-2 in Pac-12 play.

•Third straight win over Stanford, the longest in the series dating back to 1932.

•CU improves to 10-7 in conference play.

•CU won its fifth road game matching last year’s road win total.

•10 road wins in two years, matches the 2003-05 seasons for combined road victories (2003-04: six, 2004-05: four).

•90th coaching win for Boyle at CU (90-47, .657). Winning % is school best (min. two years).

Game recap … The matchup between Colorado (20-9, 9-7) and Stanford (18-10, 9-7) matched two teams not only tied in the Pac-12 conference standings, but also two teams very even across the board in terms of statistics … and in NCAA tournament aspirations.

Both teams opened the game tight, with Xavier Talton breaking the ice with a three-pointer 90 seconds into the contest. After Stanford responded with a jumper and a free throw to tie the game three minutes in, Askia Booker gave Colorado a 5-3 with a jumper. Stanford then took its first lead of the game with a three-pointer, but Josh Scott responded with a layup and a 7-6 Buff lead at the first media timeout.

Over the next four minutes, both teams struggled to score. The Buffs managed to post only one free throw – by Xavier Johnson – to go with three missed three-point attempts. Stanford, fortunately, was not much more accurate, with a traditional three point play their only points before the under 12 timeout. Stanford 9, Colorado 8.

The Buffs next went on a 6-2 run, with baskets from Scott, Johnson and Wesley Gordon to take a 14-11 lead. After a pair of free throws by the Cardinal, Jaron Hopkins hit a three-pointer to give the Buffs a four-point advantage, at 17-13. The Cardinal next cut the lead to one, at 18-17, with free throws and a layup offset by only one of two free throws made by Xavier Johnson.

Johnson then made up for his 50% free throw shooting with a layup of his own and an assist on a Ben Mills layup. Mills’ basket gave Colorado a 22-17 lead with 5:34 to play in the first half, and prompted a Stanford timeout.

The Cardinal came out of the break with a pair of baskets before two Josh Scott free throws and a three-pointer by Eli Stalzer gave the Buffs a six-point bulge, at 27-21. After the under four minute timeout, two free throws by Xavier Johnson gave the Buffs an eight-point lead, at 29-21.

Stanford then rallied, though, with three baskets – including one with a free throw on a three point play. Colorado’s only response in the final two minutes before the break came in the form of two Stalzer free throws and a Xavier Talton jumper just before the half.

Halftime score: Colorado 33, Stanford 28

The question on every Buff fan’s mind coming out of the half was whether the CU basketball team would continue its pattern of the past two games of folding in the second half. When the second half of the Stanford game opened with a turnover and a foul on a Cardinal layup, it appeared that the Buffs were on their way to another second half of despair.

But the Cardinal player did not convert the three point play, and the Buffs went a five point run of their own, with a Xavier Johnson jumper followed by a free throw and then a layup by Josh Scott. A jumper by the Cardinal cut the CU lead to six, at 38-32, but two Josh Scott free throws made it an eight point game once again.

Over the next two minutes before the first media timeout of the second half, though, Stanford went on a 6-2 run of its own. Three baskets by the Cardinal were met only by Josh Scott. 42-38, Colorado, with 15:54 still to be played. Two more free throws from Josh Scott and a jumper by Askia Booker pushed the lead back out to eight points, at 46-38, prompting a Stanford timeout with 14 minutes left in the game.

Both teams then went cold, with the score remaining at 46-38 for the next three minutes.

Then Chasson Randle took over the game.

Randle hit a three-pointer to cut the Buff lead to five points, at 46-41. Randle then made a free throw and posted another three-pointer as the Buffs endured a scoreless drought. A Stanford free throw tied the game a 46-all with 7:49 to play. A Xavier Johnson basket then broke an eight minute stretch without any points, giving the Buffs a 48-46 lead with 6:02 to play.

Chasson Randle – where have we heard that name before? – then gave Stanford its first lead of the second half, at 49-48, with 4:59 to play. The Cardinal then extended its run to 13-2 with a layup. Stanford 51, Colorado 48, with 3:59 left.

Then the Buffs, with all of one basket in ten minutes of basketball, scored on successive possessions. Xavier Johnson made a jumper to cut the lead to 51-50, Askia Booker gave the Buffs the lead back with a layup after a Wesley Gordon block, with Xavier Talton giving Colorado a 55-51 lead with a three-pointer with two minutes to play.

With a four point lead and the ball, the Buffs turned the ball over with 1:21 to play. A three-point play by Chasson Randle – who else? – then cut the Colorado lead to one point, at 55-54. Timeout, Colorado, with 1:16 left in the game. A CU turnover after a missed jumper by Askia Booker gave Stanford the ball back with 44 seconds remaining.

Chasson Randle, the Buffs’ nemesis all evening, then turned the ball over, with Askia Booker picking up the steal. Booker was fouled, but made only one of two free throws. Colorado 56, Stanford 54, with 30 seconds still to be played.

A missed three-point attempt – which would have given the Cardinal the lead with 18 seconds to play, was then missed, with Josh Scott collecting the rebound. Scott was immediately fouled, but hit both free throws to give the Buffs a four-point cushion with 13 seconds to play. Chasson Randle – yes that Chasson Randle – then went in for a layup to make it 58-56, Colorado, with eight seconds left in the game.

After Stanford’s final timeout, Xavier Talton was fouled. Seven seconds still remained. Talton missed the first free throw … but made the second. Colorado 59, Stanford 56. A Chasson Randle three point attempt to tie the game was missed with four seconds left, with Talton collecting the rebound.

Game over … finally.

Final score: Colorado 59, Stanford 56

—–

 

March 3rd

Bracketology – Working against Buffs as teams enter the final week of regular season play

Colorado is choosing the exact wrong time to be casting doubt upon their tournament-worthiness.

Even though the bracketologists are still listing Colorado as an NCAA tournament team, the Buffs are back-sliding just enough to make the next three games (at Stanford and Cal; the first game of the Pac-12 tournament) all the more important. Stanford and Cal, along with Colorado, are seen as potential bubble teams come Selection Sunday (March 15th), so a victory over another bubble team will go a long way towards cementing a tournament bid for the victor.

Colorado remains a Number 10 seed, according to Joe Lunardi at ESPN.com, and now lists (along with CBS) the Pac-12 as receiving seven total bids to the tournament.

Over at CBSSports.com, the Buffs have dropped two slots down to a No. 11 seed, and continue to have the dreaded exclamation point next to their name, indicating that CBS sees Colorado as a bubble team.

Other teams of note:

– Arizona – No. 1 seed in both brackets

– Kansas – Up to a No. 1 seed in the ESPN bracket; still a No. 2 seed in CBS’s

– UCLA – No. 5 seed in ESPN bracket; No. 7 in CBS’s

– Arizona State – No. 8 seed in both brackets (up one spot in both brackets since last week)

– Stanford – Down one spot in both, down to a No. 9 in CBS bracket; a No. 10 seed in ESPN’s

– Cal – Down one spot in both, down to a No. 10 seed in ESPN bracket; a No. 11 in CBS’s (and a play-in game team)

– Oklahoma State – Up one spot in both, up to No. 10 seed in CBS brackets; No. 11 in ESPN’s (one of “last four bye teams”)

– Harvard – No. 12 seed in both brackets

– Oregon – Up to a No. 10 seed in CBS bracket; In as one of the “Last four in” in ESPN’s (and one of the “last four in”)

—–

March 1st – at Salt Lake City          Utah 75, Colorado 64

Colorado took a 30-22 lead over Utah when Jaron Hopkins hit a three-pointer with 4:35 to play in the first half. The Buffs didn’t score again, though, until the 16:22 mark of the second half. In between – with Buff starters in foul trouble – the Utes went on a 16-0 run, taking a 39-30 lead on their way to a 75-64 victory over Colorado.

When Askia Booker is not “on” for the Buffs, Colorado is in trouble. In addition to facing foul problems, CU’s junior guard had a miserable day. Booker had as many turnovers as points – four – going 1-for-8 from the field. Josh Scott led the Buffs with 17 points, with 15 of those points coming in the second half after the Buffs had fallen behind. The only other Buff in double figures was Xavier Johnson, who had ten points … but also four fouls and four turnovers.

“Right now second halves are baffling when it comes to the Buffs,” coach Tad Boyle said. “This is three out of the last four games when you go back to UCLA . . . same way. They just had their way with us offensively in the second half – Arizona and now Utah. It happens once you think, OK, maybe somebody got hot, it’s an aberration. But it’s not . . . we’ve got to look at ourselves in the mirror and understand that right now we’re not good enough in the second half defensively.”

The Buffs had 11 second-half turnovers (after five in the first half), converted by Utah into 19 points. Josh Scott called the turnovers “something we’ve talked about a lot. It’s inexcusable. We have to go back to the drawing board.”

Game Notes –

• Colorado falls to 5‐2 in Pac‐12 games to Utah; second straight loss to the Utes at Huntsman Arena.

•CU falls to 25‐17 all‐time against the Utes.

•Buffs and the Utes have split the regular season the last two years, each winning on their home court.

•CU drops second straight game, longest losing skid of the season. It’s the third time this year that CU has lost two games in a row.

•CU is 2‐2 in its last four games; 5‐3 since defeating Utah in Boulder back on Feb. 1.

•CU has made at least one 3‐pointer in 395‐straight games (dating back to Jan. 19, 2002). Today: 7 made.

•First time this season was tied at the half with the opponent.

•Tied season‐low 27 rebounds.

•First loss under the Boyle‐coaching staff in seven games following a defeat of 18+ points.

Game recap … Senior Day for Utah opened looking like “Dustin Thomas coming out day” for Colorado. The freshman guard scored the first seven points of the game for the Buffs, connecting on a three-pointer, a layup and a jumper to give Colorado a 7-2 lead early. After a layup by the Utes, Xavier Talton got into the scoring column with a layup, giving the Buffs a 9-4 advantage at the first media timeout.

Dallin Bachynski then got into the act for Utah, scoring the Utes next three baskets on a pair of dunks and a layup. Bachynski’s efforts were more than offset, however, by a Wesley Gordon layup and a pair of baskets – the latter being a three-pointer – by Xavier Johnson, upping CU’s lead to 16-10. Utah then went on an 8-2 run to tie the game, with Jordan Loveridge hitting a pair of jumpers, and the Utes hitting four free throws, with the Buffs only posting a Wesley Gordon dunk to stem the tide.

Eli Stalzer broke the 18-all tie with a three-pointer, pushing the lead to 23-18 with another jumper. Askia Booker hit a pair of free throws at the 7:27 mark to give CU a 25-18 advantage, but picked up his second foul a few moments later. Booker was thereafter relegated to the bench, joining Dustin Thomas and Xavier Johnson, who also had two early fouls apiece.

After a pair of free throws by the Utes made it 25-20, Josh Scott picked up his first basket of the contest, making it a 27-20 game. The last six minutes of the half, however, the Buffs just had to try and hold on with three starters on the bench. Jordan Loveridge took advantage of the situation, collecting five points on a jumper and a three-pointer. The Buffs only points in the final six minutes of the half came on a Jaron Hopkins three-pointer, but Utah finished the half on a 10-3 run to tie the score at the break.

Halftime score: Colorado 30, Utah 30

If you had told Buff fans that they would be looking at a halftime box-score with Josh Scott and Askia Booker held to two points apiece, the consensus would have been that Colorado was being blown out. Instead, other players had stepped up, with Dustin Thomas scoring seven points and Eli Stalzer five to help the Buffs’ cause. (Hitting half (4-of-8) of their first half three-point attempts didn’t hurt, either).

Jordan Loveridge got into double figures with 11 points shortly after intermission, giving Utah its first lead of the game, at 32-30. After an Askia Booker turnover, the Utes moved their advantage to 34-30 with another jumper. A layup for Utah a few moments later gave the Utes a 16-3 run extended over nine minutes of play. Timeout, Colorado, down 36-30, with 17:26 to play.

The timeout didn’t help, though, as the Buffs’ next two possessions ended in turnovers before CU even took a shot. A traditional three-point play by the Utes gave Utah a 9-0 run to start the second half, and a 39-30 lead. Josh Scott finally got the Buffs on the board with a jumper at the 16:22 mark, giving CU it’s first points in ten minutes of play.

A free throw and a layup pushed the Utah lead to ten points, at 42-32, as Colorado committed its fifth and sixth turnovers of the first six minutes of the second half. A Jordan Loveridge three-pointer then made it 45-32, Utah, with 13:52 to play. Josh Scott delivered a three point play, giving center Dallin Bachynski his fourth foul in the process, to make it a 45-35 contest with 12:40 to play. Two free throws and a layup later by the Utes, though, ballooned the Utah lead up to 14 points, at 49-35, at the under 12 timeout.

One of two free throws by Dustin Thomas and a pair of free throws by Josh Scott gave the Buffs as many second half points as second half turnovers (eight apiece), cutting the Utah lead to 49-38. Two jumpers by Utah doubled the one made by Askia Booker, giving Utah a 23-10 run and a 53-40 lead midway through the second half. Josh Scott free throws were then offset by a Utah layup, keeping the lead at 13 points. Xavier Johnson then hit a jumper, followed by two more Josh Scott free throws to cut the lead to nine points. A Utah jumper pushed the lead back up to 11, at 57-46, at the under eight media break.

Xavier Talton next hit one of two free throws, and Xavier Johnson posted a three point play, but those four points were offset by two baskets by Utah, keeping it at an 11-point game as the clock continued to work against the Buffs. Wesley Gordon then hit one of two free throws, with Jordan Loveridge getting to the 20-point mark at the other end to make it a 12-point game, at 63-51.

After a Xavier Johnson turnover led to a Utah dunk and a 65-51 game, Tad Boyle called timeout, but, with only 5:15 left to play, the game was already out of hand. After the final media timeout, Utah added insult to injury, making three free throws after Askia Booker fouled a shooter behind the arc. The free throws gave Utah its largest lead, at 68-51, making it a 38-21 run in the second half. A pair of Jaron Hopkins three-pointers and a pair of Josh Scott free throws gave CU a small 8-4 run, but it was much too little, much too late. The game ended with a layup and a free throw for the Utes, and a three-point basket for the Buffs by Eli Stalzer.

Final score: Utah 75, Colorado 64.

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34 Replies to “CU Above the Rim – March, 2014”

  1. WOW! A brutal afternoon yesterday for our Buffs. In Orlando yet a lifetime away from “The Happiest Place on Earth”. Hate to see the season end on what were two really bad games, with the NCAA blowout following on the heels of the Pac-12 Semi-Final loss to ‘Zona but it is what it is.

    The fact that this team, which played the final two months of the season without its best player, won 23 games and earned an at-large bid to the NCAA speaks highly of Coach Boyle, his staff and the young men he/they have recruited to be part of the CU program.

    It’s not about how many times you get knocked down. It’s about how many times you get back up. I have a feeling that Coach Boyle’s crew will be back up and at it with renewed vigor when practice starts in the fall.

    Shoulder to Shoulder!

  2. We aren’t winning by large margins but I get the distinct impression that these young players are learning to win the close games. Arizona is of course in a different zone than our last opponents but on a neutral court I think we will have a decent showing. March on to the PAC 12 championship.

    GO BUFFS!

  3. Good to see tough win against ASU. It would be really nice to see a win against Arizona (probably not) but hey…
    We close out with three road games we absolutey can win but they are road games so 2 wins will be sufficient.
    If (and pray we don’t) lose the remaining four games our NCAA tournament dreams will be crushed.

  4. I fell asleep at the 10 minute mark in the second half and the Buffs were down by 3. Imagine my suprise to wake up to an 18 point loss.But you know what? I am still kind of used to the Buffs not being as good as they are now so a 20-22 win season is good to me.

  5. No word on exactly what Fletcher’s injury is, other than “a knee.” No one seems to have been interested enough to look into that. Is it a contusion or tear of the meniscus or one of the ligaments? It would be nice if one of the daily reporters at the DC or DP would be curious enough to find out. ‘Thot you might have heard.

  6. Nice way to avenge last year’s home loss to the Beavers. Our free-throw shooting concerns me (I know that the Buffs were perfect vs. UGA but ’tis the exception that proves the rule) and it will – if it cannot be improved – bite us hard at a critical spot this season.

    Need to clean up the back end of the homestand by taking out the Ducks on Sunday afternoon. #RollTad

  7. What a find Tad Boyle has turned out to be. Can’t believe our good fortune, and a big thank you to Mike Bohn for that decision!

  8. After reading several articles about the attendance requirement to last night women’s game to get tickets for the KU men’s game, I think the athletic department should re-think the strategy. I understand that they are trying to get more students to attend women’s games, but this was not the way to do it. The last couple of minutes was a disaster and the utmost disrespect for the women’s team in the way the students behaved. I know they are students (I was once one myself back in the dark ages) but this was outrageous. The women’s team deserves better.

  9. From what I can tell it doesn’t appear that the AFA or CSU game will be televised. I hope I’m wrong. Does anyone have info on these games and whether they will be televised?

    1. It looks like the CSU game will be televised by the CBS Sports Network, which has the Mountain West contract.
      The AFA game will be on ESPNU tonight (Thursday)

      1. Actually I was asking about when CU faces those two teams. I show the AFA game is on Mountain West Network, which you point out is CBS Sports, so that is good as we can watch that. I’m showing the CSU game vs CU is on ESPN3, which as I understand is on line only. Hope that’s not the case.

        1. Sorry, my bad – I thought you were looking at the CSU and AFA football games this weekend.
          We’ll have to see about the basketball games. As it stands now, the CU men’s team will be playing AFA at the same time the CU football team will be playing Utah (on the Pac-12 Networks). With a Saturday afternoon tip on a day with many rivalry football games, the game might not be televised …

  10. Glad to see road basketball officiating hasn’t changed = CU NINE fouls in six minutes, Baylor TWO fouls in six minutes. May not hurt in the beginning, but in the second half players are afraid to breath too hard on their opponents for fear of fouling out or even sitting with FOUR fouls.

    That, plus the guards have to find the frontline if they are cold from beyond the arc—Wesley Gordon should have had 15-18 points, not just 9!!! Move Spencer to Two-guard and start X Talton at point! Bring Ski off the bench.

  11. You never know what factors into a youngster’s decision to (a) select the school he decides to attend; and (b) leave that program and that school. Might be something as straightforward as playing time. Might be a combination of a zillion different things. Day’s end he is a young man and he is entitled to do whatever it is he believes to be in his best interest. Hope wherever he ends up, it serves him well. His official CU bio indicated that he has some fairly significant non-basketball aspirations. I hope wherever he ends up continuing – and completing – his undergraduate studies he keeps sight of them and attains them.

    As a CU hoops fan, I root for the coaches and the kids in the program – and not against those who were here but are no longer here. #RollTad!

  12. Maybe the brutal non con foes had something to do with the #29 but basically all I see is a redux of year after year after year…..same ol names. The only limb I see the AP guys crawling out on is Virginia Commonwealth.
    If we don’t finish ahead of Oregon I will be seriously disappointed.

  13. The Buffs have a tough row to hoe. But to be the best you have to beat the best. What a great story the basketball team has become.With a few wins right away I think the voters will see we belong in the top 20-25.

  14. Hearty congratulations to Andre Roberson. By going in the first round, he proved ALL the analysts wrong. He also showed how highly the NBA thinks of the CU basketball team and head coach Tad Boyle.

    I know Andre will do a great job wherever he ends up.

    First round draft picks certainly make it easier for coaches to recruit the top talent in the nation. More than likely, Spencer Dinwiddie will join Roberson and Alec Burks as first round draft picks who developed their skills under the tutelage of Coach Boyle.

    A great day for Andre and the University of Colorado Basketball program.

  15. I wonder what these guys make who work for these “draft boards.” I assume the guys at CBS make at least enough to live in a rent control studio somewhere in NYC.
    Maybe this stuff has been outsourced to Pakistan too.
    On another board I heard someone say that the best scenario for Andre would be to wind up in his hometown with the Spurs where he would get the best chance for development.
    I feel he has a decent chance to make it simply because he hustles. I have seen enough of a lot of these overpaid “stars” dragging their butts up and down the court

    1. We’re still a week or more from even having a search committee put together.
      Not likely to have a new AD until August … or later.

  16. Pac-12 releases review of basketball officiating

    Is it just me or is this a blatant attempt to obscure the outcome of the inquiry of the matter?

    I suppose the officials are Sicilian as well.

  17. Whomever does some tweeting out there, send in one for our own to stay one more year for the good of all…Andre, CU will go to the next level, as will you, if you stay! Best of luck with the decision you make.
    Go Buffs!

  18. So we’re ranked, just like Arizona, UCLA and Stanford. Maybe we can intensify the rivalry we have with Arizona and start a few others with Arizona State, UCLA, and Oregon. Maybe Stanford too, but I’m not going that far just yet.

  19. Good luck to Jeremy Adams and does any coach do it any better than Coach Boyle regarding the way in which he salutes his kids? Bravo to both.

  20. If the NBA draftniks are telling and/or do tell Andre Roberson that he is likely to be drafted late – if at all – it would be a surprise to me (and to a lot of people I suspect) if he did not return for his final year at CU.

  21. I disagree that Tad Boyle is not mentioned as a possible candidate for the UCLA job. Boyle’s name is on the possible good candidates list on espn.com under NCAAM-rumors. Even in the CBS link, Boyle’s name is mentioned. Read about the Washington coach as a realistic possibility and you will see Boyle’s name as a rising star though not linked to the job.

  22. As one of the 30 or so Buff fans in Corvallis, I wish to commend the Buffs for their overall effort. OSU has some talent! Too bad for OSU fans their team played with little heart. After that opening spurt and subsequent loss of the lead at half, it could have gone terribly wrong for the Buffs. Leadership came through.
    To those flag waving fans in the upper corner, way to represent Buff Nation. Make some noise in Boulder for us out west come Thursday!

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