CU Above the Rim – January, 2014

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January 31st

USA Today Q & A with CU head coach Tad Boyle

USA Today writer Nicole Auerbach has posted a question-and-answer session with Colorado head coach Tad Boyle. The full interview can be found here.

Some of the highlights:

Q: You’re a little more than two weeks into the post-Spencer era. Of course, new personnel, new leadership, things like that. How do you think things have gone so far without him, outside of wins and losses?

A: It’s going good. I think our guys are over it mentally. The shock has worn off. They understand what’s ahead of them. I think the game against USC helped our confidence level. Going to Arizona was going to be difficult with Spencer and Tre’Shon Fletcher. People don’t talk about Tre’Shon’s injury, we lost two of our top eight players, not just our best player. It’s as good as can be expected at this point. I believe in this team. I think we’re still an NCAA tournament team. I think we’ve got that kind of talent, but we’ve got to re-invent ourselves a little bit and we’re in the process of doing that.

Q: How is Jaron Hopkins doing in the starting lineup? And I know you are getting more minutes from younger reserve guys. I know we’ve discussed the timing of Spencer’s injury — is it at least a little helpful in the sense it gives those guys time to move into and adapt to new roles in time to make a tournament push?

A: Everybody’s moving into a different type of a role. Xavier Johnson has maybe a bigger role defensively than he had before. He’s going to have to guard one of their better perimeter players now. Jaron Hopkins gets thrown into the starting lineup. He had to guard Nick Johnson (when the Buffs played Arizona). If Spencer was around, Spencer would have guarded him. Everybody’s kind of moving up a notch. Reserves are getting more significant minutes and a bigger role. Everybody is. It’s not an adjustment just on one person or one position. It’s an adjustment on everybody because we all have to pick up the slack.

Q: Your message to your team, your goals — does any of that change with a significant injury like this?

A: Nothing changes. Nothing changes. The messages don’t change. The core beliefs don’t change. The values of the program don’t change. What we emphasize doesn’t change. The only thing we have to change is we’ve got to tighten things up a little tighter. We can’t have empty possessions, 16-turnover games against Arizona — they’re going to cost us. Before, we could have a 16-turnover game and maybe get out of there with a win. Can’t do that anymore.

Q: When you were hired, you called this a “destination job.” You’re a Colorado guy, of course. Could you have imagined the road that you have taken to end up in this job?

A: No, no. Especially the fact that I grew up in the state, played high school basketball an hour away. Becoming an assistant coach at the University of Oregon back in the mid-90s, to go from there to Tennessee to Jacksonville, Alabama, to Wichita, Kansas. Then, to end up where I am, I mean, it’s basically where I started. I was living in Boulder, working as a securities broker, coaching high school basketball when I got into college coaching. I left and started on that journey, and that journey’s brought me full circle. No way in a million years could I have imagined it. I thought about it from time to time. It’s one of those things you dream about, but you think, ‘That can’t happen.’ … Timing, everything has to fall into place. And it did.

January 30th

Buffs back on the bubble in Bracketology

The 2013-14 season was supposed to be different from the past few seasons, when the Buffs went into the Pac-12 tournament each spring needing to win games to claim a spot in the NCAA tournament. This year was supposed to be about seeding and matchups, and giving Arizona a run for its money in the conference regular season race and Pac-12 tournament in Las Vegas.

Welcome back to the bubble.

Colorado, 1-4 since Spencer Dinwiddie went down in the first half of the Washington game on January 12th, have gone from the No. 15 team in the nation to a team subject of speculation as to their tournament worthiness.

With an off week – only one game this week, against Utah on Saturday (noon, MT, Pac-12 Networks) – the Buffs have had time to reflect on their status. Coach Tad Boyle said that the team was “back to square one” after a pair of blowout losses in the desert, and will use this week to try and establish an identity sans Dinwiddie.

The time for a turnaround is now. The next three games are at home, against Utah and the Washington schools. All three are winnable, and would give CU some much needed credibility – and momentum – as the ESPN GameDay contest against Arizona looms.

For now, though, the speculation is negative, as evidenced in the latest Bracketology estimates. At CBSSportsline, bracketologist Jerry Palm has Colorado as a bubble team, moving the Buffs down from a No. 10 seed to a play-in No. 11 seed. Meanwhile, at ESPN, bracketologist Joe Lunardi has the Buffs as a No. 10 seed, down from a No. 9 seed last week.

With five of the last seven games of the regular season coming on the road (with the only home games during that stretch coming against the Arizona schools which just throttled the Buffs), Colorado needs to have a good two weeks at home.

Hopefully, the extra days off this week came just at the right time …

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January 26th

CU women lose close game to a ranked team at home … again

On January 10th, the CU women’s team was ranked 17th in the nation, and had a chance to defeat No. 19 Cal at home. The Buffs trailed, 56-55, with five seconds to play, and had the ball with a chance to win the game. Instead, Jamie Swan turned the ball over, and CU lost the game without taking the final shot.

Since that game, the CU women lost three of four games, falling out of the rankings, and falling off of the bracketology boards.

Sunday, the Buffs had a chance at redemption, fighting hard against No. 14 Arizona State, battling back from a ten-point deficit to take the lead in the second half. With the scored tied at 66-66 with 21 seconds to go, the Buffs had the ball and a chance to win the game. At worst, the Buffs figured to take the game into overtime.

Instead, with nine seconds left, Brittany Wilson fell down, turning the ball over without the Buffs taking a shot. Arizona State drove down the court, with CU being called for a foul with 4.4 seconds remaining. The Sun Devils made both free throws to take a 68-66 lead. The Buffs still had a chance to win the game, or at least force overtime, with a last second shot.

Instead, Brittany Wilson took the inbounds pass – and traveled. Said Wilson of the miscue coming out of the timeout: “I felt I got tripped, it was a no call. . . nothing much more to say.” Added Lappe: “Just about everything bad that could have happened did at the end of the game . . . we have to learn how to finish. We’ve got to get a shot off, no matter what happens. (The officials) were calling fouls (23 on each team); we can’t make excuses.”

Lappe declined comment on Wilson’s alleged un-called trip: “I’m not going to comment on that . . . bottom line, we have to make plays.” Two games. Both against ranked teams. Both games at home. In both games, CU had a chance to win the game in the final seconds. In both games, CU turned the ball over without taking a shot.

With the loss, Colorado falls to 12-7 … but only 2-6 in Pac-12 play. CU’s next five games – against Utah (twice), on the road against the Oregon teams, and at home against Washington. None of those five teams has a winning record in Pac-12 play. So there is hope for the Buffs to turn things around … … but time is running out.

January 25th – at Tempe           Arizona State 72, Colorado 51

On Thursday, the Buffs were dominated by No. 1 Arizona, falling behind 18-4 early, and never getting within ten points for the last 30 minutes of the contest.

If anything, Colorado looked worse against Arizona State on Saturday.

The Buffs had 12 first half turnovers in falling behind 34-23 at the break, and then were embarrassed the rest of the game, falling 72-51 to fall to 4-4 in Pac-12 play. Colorado finished with 19 turnovers, and were a pathetic 9-24 from the free throw line – and 2-of-11 from behind the arc. Meanwhile, Arizona State hit 9-of-19 three-point attempts, and hit 81% of their free throws (17-of-21).

As was the case against Arizona, Xavier Johnson (12), Josh Scott (11), and Askia Booker (10) were the entire Buff offense, with Wesley Gordon (7) the only other player with more than four points (no other Buff had over four against Arizona). While the Buffs’ Big Three scored 33 points, it took 31 shots to get those points (making 13), with the trio going a collective 6-for-17 from the free throw line (with the misses not including several misses on the front end of one-and-ones).

“We let our frustrations get the better of us tonight,” said Tad Boyle, “and you know there were some things that we talked about after the Arizona game, there were some things to build on. Tonight is one of those nights where there’s not much to build on other than say, ‘you know what? We’ve got to get back to square one and get better’ … I told our team we’ve got to figure out a way, and we have to be mentally tough enough to win this game 51-50, and right now we’re not there. We’re not there mentally, we’re not there physically. So we’ve got to get there, and grind it out, there are a lot of areas we have to get better at. But, you know, I believe in our guys, we’ve got good players, we’ve got a good team, we’ve got a good system, you know, it’s proven itself. But, right now, you put all the factors together, the lack of defense, the lack of rebounding, and poor free throw shooting, 19 turnovers on the road, you’re going to get blown out.”

Game Notes –

– CU now trails the all-time series against Arizona State, 4-5, with a 2-3 record under Tad Boyle (and three straight losses)

– The Buffs did have a season-high 12 steals against the Sun Devils.

– CU has now lost four of its last five games, with every loss by more than ten points.

– The 19 turnovers were the second-most this season (20 v. Washington)

– The 51 points were the lowest total of the year.

– The Buffs hit on only nine of 24 free throw attempts. The 37.5% rate was the lowest of the season.

– Askia Booker scored ten points, making him the 31st player in CU history to score over 1,000 points (1,004)

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January 24th

CU women return to win column with a win over Arizona

From CUBuffs.com … Desperately needing a win and an accompanying dose of confidence, the Colorado Buffaloes grabbed both Friday night at the Coors Events Center. Powered by the solid mid-range shooting of Jen Reese and reserve Lauren Huggins’ rediscovered long-ball accuracy, CU disposed of Arizona 68-47 to snap a four-game Pac-12 Conference losing streak.

“It’s great to be back on the winning track,” CU coach Linda Lappe said. “You take the game or be taken . . . tonight we took the game and we have to continue to do that.”

Sunday would be an opportune time to continue. The Buffs are back at the Events Center at 1 p.m. to play No. 14 Arizona State on State Farm Day. Also, CU will recognize the 40th season of the women’s basketball program with a reunion featuring former staff and players.

With Friday night’s win, the Buffs (12-6, 2-5) improved to 11-3 all-time against the Wildcats (4-14, 0-7) and remained unbeaten against them in five meetings since joining the Pac-12 in 2011. CU’s record against Arizona in Boulder is now 7-1.

Reese, a junior from Clackamas, Ore., tied her career high with 22 points, hitting a career-best eight field goals in 13 attempts. Huggins, a redshirt freshman from Littleton, tied her career high by hitting five of her nine 3-point attempts for 15 points – one below her season and career highs. Huggins had been 2-of-16 from beyond the arc in the previous six Pac-12 games. For Huggins, regaining focus and her long-distance shooting touch started with early week meetings involving her teammates and Lappe. Huggins said her teammates expressing their belief in her got her back on track: “My teammates said, ‘Shoot the ball, kid, that’s what you need to do.’ Just hearing that from my teammates gave me confidence . . .”

Lappe said players – maybe more so with shooters – often “forget their roles” during the course of a season. Lappe told Huggins “to keep it simple . . . don’t put the ball on the floor, be ready to catch it, slow down your mind and be a shooter.” Huggins, who scored a career-high 16 points in November against Alcorn State, obviously did what her coach wanted. But Lappe saw another facet of Huggins’ game that was equally locked in – her defense, which Lappe said usually ignites Huggins at the other end. “I thought her defense was solid – the best it’s been,” Lappe said.

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January 23rd – at Tucson           No. 1 Arizona 69, Colorado 57

Arizona, the No. 1 team in the nation, opened its game against Colorado with an 18-4 run, never looking back on its way to a 69-57 win in Tucson.

The Buffs trailed by 15 points at the half and never made a serious challenge in the game, with the final score being one of the closest deficits of the contest. Xavier Johnson scored 21 points to lead the Buffs, but had only five points and one rebound in the decisive first half. Josh Scott posted a double-double, with 13 points and 11 rebounds, while Askia Booker was the only other CU player with more than four points, posting 11 points on 4-of-13 shooting. Arizona, 14th in the nation in field goal percentage (49.1%) were right on pace, hitting 29-of-59 from the field (49.2%). Colorado, however, was able to hit only 37% (19-of-51) of its shots in the game. “We did a good job of battling back, even in the first half we cut it to six, but we couldn’t get over that hump because they are an explosive team,” said Tad Boyle. “But our guys battled, I thought that was a sign of progress on the road, we didn’t fall apart. To me the tale of the game is our 16 turnovers. They got 24 layups, we want that number to be seven or less, and they had 24. Part of that was our turning it over, because if you turn it over against these guys they are so fast and athletic and good in transition. First half we didn’t do a very good job on the offensive boards, or taking care of it. But in the second half we did a better job on the boards, [Arizona] only had two offensive rebounds in the second half, I thought we rebounded the ball better. So, there are some positive things we can take from this, but we have to be a better executing team offensively on the road. When the crowd gets into it, we have to be able to handle that, and tonight we didn’t.”

Game Notes

• CU still leads the overall series, 11-9 and falls to 2-5 games played at Arizona.

• First win for Arizona over CU in successive years since 1973 and 1974.

• First time CU has lost to Arizona in consecutive games in Pac-12 play; CU is 3-4 vs. UA in the Pac-12.

• CU falls to 2-4 against ranked opponents this season.

• CU has lost 3 of its last 4 games (all three losses by 10+ points).

• Under Boyle, CU is now 11-13 against nationally ranked opponents, 5-7 against the nation’s Top-10.

January 22nd

Buff fans can vote for the C-Unit, pick up $10,000 in scholarships for CU

From CUBuffs.com … The University of Colorado’s men’s basketball student section, the C-Unit, has been nominated again for the Naismith Student Section of the Year and voting begins Wednesday. There are three way for fans to vote:

  1. Via a direct link: www.mystudentsectionrocks.com or http://bit.ly/1fzbsNx
  2. Via College Colors on Facebook: www.facebook.com/collegecolors
  3. Via Twitter: Using our designated hashtag, #RockCUColors and #beststudentsection within a Tweet

 

January 21st

Spencer Dinwiddie undergoes surgery; six-to-eight month rehabilitation underway

From CUBuffs.com … On Monday, Spencer Dinwiddie embarked on the road back.

Right now he can’t tell me, you, even himself, back to what, back to where. Back is what matters. Here’s the only bedrock certainty for the University of Colorado’s gifted junior point guard: After the appropriate waiting period following Monday’s surgery to repair his injured left knee, he will attack rehabilitation like nothing that’s ever confronted him.

“The low range (of recovery) is six months, the high range is eight,” Dinwiddie told me two nights before surgery was performed by Dr. Armando Vidal in Lone Tree. “I see no reason why I can’t do it in six. Climbing that mental hurdle is a big thing, but that’s what I’m going to do. I’m not going to baby it. I’m looking at it as a time to build up my body and become a more complete athlete.”

… Until his rehab work begins in earnest, his progress is charted and a determination can be made on his six-month timetable, Dinwiddie won’t know what the future holds. “In July, I hope to be getting ready to play basketball,” he said. “Where – the Lord only knows.” If pre-draft NBA evaluations he receives appear promising, “I might take my chances,” he said. But, he adds, given the doubt that knee injuries can create until an injured player erases it, “I just don’t know.”

Yes, he said, there is a chance he will return to CU, but that decision would be based on the success of his rehab, his evaluation by the NBA and all other related factors. Dinwiddie said he and his father have conferred in the past on “life decisions,” arrived at sound conclusions and will collaborate closely on this one. “You have to think of the future,” Dinwiddie said. “But I’m not going to make a leap of faith, not a rash decision . . . if we weigh everything and it’s not enough (to enter the NBA Draft), then No. 25 will be playing again at the Events Center.” The early entry eligibility deadline for the 2014 NBA Draft is April 27 – about three months short of his six-month rehab timeline. Until then, Buffs fans will wait, Spencer Dinwiddie will work. His goals: a sound left knee and a solid decision on his future.

January 20th \

CU women lose fourth straight, falling to Washington, 81-71

From CUBuffs.com … Washington freshman guard Kelsey Plum scored 35 points as the Huskies handed No. 21/20 Colorado its fourth straight loss, 81-71, Sunday afternoon at Alaska Airlines Arena. Plum and backcourt mate Jazmine Davis combined for 55 of Washington’s 81 points. Plum made a CU opponent record 18 free throws, on only 19 attempts, and drilled three 3-pointers. Davis had 20 points on 6-of-14 from the field and 6-of-6 from the line.

The Huskies (10-7, 3-3) won the battle mostly from the free throw line. Washington was 38-of-46 from the charity stripe, setting a CU opponent mark for free-throws made in one game. “We put them to the free throw line way too much. We outshot them, but we didn’t shoot as well as we needed to. They were scoring, and they were getting to the free throw line,” coach Linda Lappe said. Washington made 21 of those in the first half as the Huskies used a 10-0 run midway through the period to build a double-digit lead at the break, 39-27.

Colorado (11-6, 1-5) tightened up its defense early in the second half and started turning the Huskies over. The Buffaloes were able to completely erase Washington’s advantage, taking a 54-53 lead on a Jamee Swan layup with 8:42 remaining. But Plum scored the game’s next six points to spark a 17-2 Washington run and the Huskies built their lead back to 70-56. Brittany Wilson scored 10 of her 16 points during a final Colorado push. The Buffaloes knocked Washington’s lead back down to five with under a minute left with a 13-4 run. However, time ran out on the Buffaloes. Forced to foul, Plum sank her final four tries from the line to put the game away.

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January 18th – at Boulder         No. 21 Colorado 83, USC 62

Buffs win first game without Dinwiddie in a rout of USC

Colorado won for the first time without Spencer Dinwiddie, cruising to an 83-62 win over USC. The Buffs snapped a two-game losing streak by opening the game with a 20-2 run, leading by double digits the remainder of the game to push their record to 15-4, 4-2.

Josh Scott led the Buffs with 20 points on 8-of-13 shooting (plus 4-4 from the free throw line), adding seven rebounds. Askia Booker, who didn’t post his first basket of the game until the final second of the first half, finished with 13 points and six assists. Xavier Johnson and Jaron Hopkins were both in double figures, with ten points apiece, as Colorado played 11 … and had 11 scorers (yes, Ben Mills scored, posting four points while picking up five rebounds).

Overall, Colorado held USC to 36.8% shooting and only four three-pointers (with two of those coming in the last two minutes of the game, with the result of the contest well decided). The Buffs also posted a season-high ten blocks, while dominating the boards, 43-23. “This was just what the doctor ordered for this team, in terms of timing,” said Tad Boyle. “This was the kind of game we needed. I’m really proud of our guys, from the end of the bench to the guys on the floor for the way they responded … I said this after the UCLA game and I’ll say it again, don’t count this team out, these guys have toughness, they have grit, and we can win some games in this league. All you can ask for in life is an opportunity and we have a great one (against Arizona Thursday) in front of us”.

Game Notes –

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

• Colorado improves its series lead over USC to 5-3 and has won all three Pac-12 Conference games.

• The Buffaloes remain perfect against the Trojans in Boulder (4-0).

• Today was the 56th win at the Coors Events Center under head coach Tad Boyle (56-8, .875).

• CU improves to 12-1 at home, becoming the 15th team in school history to win at least 12 games at the Coors Events Center.

• Shot 50.9 percent from the field (5-0 this season over 50 percent).

• CU improves its record to 15-4 after 19 games matching the 2005-06 season.

• The Buffs went on an 18-0 run from the 17:34-11:42 mark in the first half (5:42 span).

• Within the first six minutes, the Buffs had 5 blocked shots (6 blocked shots was a season-high before today).

• USC’s 23 first half points ties the fewest points an opponent has scored in a first half this season (Oregon State scored 23 on Jan.2).

• CU’s 10 blocked shots, most this season and ties the most since they had 10 against Pepperdine on Dec. 4, 2006.

January 17th – No. 21 CU women lose third straight game

From CUBuffs.com … Colorado held Washington State without a field goal over the final 6 minutes, 9 seconds, but  couldn’t take advantage of the opportunity as the Cougars stayed unbeaten in Pac-12 Conference play with a 70-60 win over the No. 21/20 ranked Buffaloes Friday night at Beasley Coliseum. Jen Reese led Colorado (11-5, 1-4) with 15 points but battled foul trouble, eventually fouling out with 3:22 left. Washington State’s Dawnyelle Awa hit a 3-pointer to give the Cougars their biggest lead at 60-50 with 6:18 left. WSU (5-0, 11-6) didn’t score from the floor again, but was able to get to the free-throw line hitting 10 foul shots. All Colorado could do was match on the scoreboard. The Buffaloes shot just 32 percent in the second half,  but even more costly, only 11-of-23 from the foul line. Colorado got as close as five at 64-59 after a pair of Ashley Wilson free throws with 2:27 left, but the Buffaloes missed two 3-pointers and had a pair of turnovers on the next four possessions as the Cougars iced the game at the line. Arielle Roberson had 13 points, eight rebounds and four assists. Wilson had six points and four rebounds.

Buffs fall to Bruins without Spencer Dinwiddie

January 16th – Boulder          No. 25 UCLA 69, No. 21 Colorado 56

Colorado opened its “second season” with a 69-56 loss to No. 25 UCLA. The Buffs, outside of Askia Booker, who had 21 points, and Josh Scott, with 19, struggled mightily to replace injured star Spencer Dinwiddie. The only stat you need to know: the other three starters for the Buffs – Xavier Johnson, Jaron Hopkins, and Wesley Gordon – finished the game with two points apiece. The trio went a combined 2-of-15 (0-for-5 from three-point range), making it a five-on-two contest for much of the game.

The loss of Spencer Dinwiddie was noticeable throughout the box score. Colorado had only 19 free throw attempts (instead of the season-average 30), making only 11 of those 19 attempts. The Buffs had 17 turnovers (to only ten for the Bruins) with UCLA picking up 12 steals (to only four for Colorado).

“That was a winnable basketball game,” said Tad Boyle. “We are extremely disappointed in the way we played; I was proud of our team for the fight that they showed. If we learned anything from tonight, it’s that this team is going to be okay, it’s just we weren’t good enough tonight … Disappointed, but at the same time, I’m encouraged about the future, the players we have, and I believe in every one of them”.

Game Notes …

• First home loss this season (11‐1).

•The Bruins are the first team to defeat CU, twice at the Coors Events Center in the last four years (55‐8, .873). The others: Texas A&M (ot), Kansas, Wyoming, Stanford, Arizona State (OT), Oregon State.

•CU falls to 1‐7 in the series and is now 0‐3 in Pac‐12 play to the Bruins (CU is only team UCLA has not defeated since the inception of the Pac‐12).

•Following a road Pac‐12 Conference loss, CU drops first game under Boyle when returning to Boulder (4‐1).

•CU drops to 2‐3 against ranked opponents this season.

•The Buffs lost the points off turnovers and 2ndchance points battle for a combined 40‐8 (20‐1 2ndchance points).

• 383‐straight games with a three point field goal (tonight: 5 – all by Booker).

•Up until 7:58 left in the game, Askia Booker and Josh Scott were the only Buffs to reach the free throw line.

•Askia Booker was five‐of‐seven from three‐point range while the rest of the team was 0‐of‐10.

•This is the first game the Buffs have lost this season when having a higher field goal percentage (CU: 40%; UCLA: 39.4%)

 

January 10th

No. 17 CU women out-scored 14-2 down the stretch to lose to No. 19 Cal, 57-55

From CUBuffs.com … California never stopped grinding, Colorado couldn’t step up with a stop. It was the recipe for a gut-wrenching, frustrating Friday night at the Coors Events Center. Outscoring CU 14-2 in the final 4:08, No. 19 Cal rallied from a 10-point deficit to edge No. 17 CU, 57-55.

Since the Buffs joined the Pac-12 Conference in 2011, the Bears are 6-0 against them, and their other Pac-12 nemesis – No. 4 Stanford, owning a 5-0 regular season/conference tournament record against CU – visits the CEC on Sunday afternoon (3 p.m.).

“We have to bounce back, we don’t have a choice,” CU coach Linda Lappe said. “We have to bring it for two games . . . we brought it for 37 minutes (against Cal) and Stanford is even tougher. If you feel sorry for yourself and are not ready to go, Stanford will take advantage of that.” If the Buffs left their home court Friday night feeling they had been taken advantage of, it was justified. It was also mostly self-inflicted.

CU (11-3, 1-2)  held a 10-point halftime lead, led by 10 with just over 4 minutes to play and still couldn’t finish what was shaping up to be a milestone Pac-12 win. Cal (11-3, 3-0) wouldn’t allow it. “We just didn’t play to win necessarily . . . they were the aggressors and we didn’t buck up to that challenge,” said Buffs forward Arielle Roberson, who rebounded from a subpar West Coast trip last weekend with a game-high 21 points on Friday night – including 11 during a 15-6 run that opened a 50-40 CU advantage with 5:55 to play. But after Jen Reese hit a jumper to put the Buffs up by 10 for a second time, they failed to hit a field goal in the final 4:08. Roberson’s two free throws were CU’s only points in that span.

January 8th – at Spokane        No. 15 Colorado (14-2, 3-0) 71, Washington State (7-8, 0-3) 70 OT

Washington State hit 13 three-pointers to Colorado’s three, but the Buffs out-scored the Cougars 26-3 from the free throw line, putting it together late to pull out a 71-70 win in overtime.

In the extra period Josh Scott had four field goals and Askia Booker had four free throws to help the Buffs escape with the victory. Colorado’s leading scorer on the season, Spencer Dinwiddie, was held to six points on the game, with Askia Booker scoring 18 on 13-of-14 from the free throw line. Josh Scott scored 19 points, but fell one rebound short of his sixth consecutive double-double. Xavier Johnson, with 14 points, was the only other Buff in double figures on a night when the Buffs failed to take the lead until 4:26 remained in the game.

“[Washington State] dictated the tempo, we let them dictate the tempo, we were soft defensively,” Colorado head coach Tad Boyle said. “We did what we had to do down the stretch to get the win, and for that I’m proud, but I am not proud of this performance.” “We didn’t play very well, I think that’s pretty obvious, but I’m proud we pulled it out,”  Josh Scott said. “I think our team had a little realization that we are the No. 15 team in the country and people are going to make tough shots, we were lucky to pull this one out.”

Game Notes –

– The Buffs 14-2 start matches that of the 1968-69 team, which started 14-2 on its way to the Big Eight championship;

– CU’s record against Washington State improves to 4-1 all-time; 2-0 on the road;

– The Buffs are 3-0 to start conference play for just the third time since 1996-97;

– CU improves to 8-1 this season in single digit games, and 4-4 in overtime games under Tad Boyle;

– The stat line was a study in contrasts. Washington State was hot from three-point range, hitting 13-of-23 (tying Elon for the most three-pointers against CU this season), but only three free throws. Colorado, meanwhile, had only three three-pointers for the game, but a collective 26-of-38 from the free throw line;

– Askia Booker set career-highs for free throw attempts and makes (13-of-14). Booker is 23-of-26 from the line the past two games.

Askia Booker named Pac-12 Player-of-the-Week

From CUBuffs.com … For the second time this season, junior guard Askia Booker was named Pac-12 Men’s Basketball Player of the Week for play from Dec. 30-Jan. 5, the conference office announced Monday. The Los Angeles, Calif. native averaged 20.0 points, 5.5 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 2.5 steals per game as the Buffs opened conference play on their home court with victories against Oregon State and then-No. 10/9 Oregon. Booker recorded a career-high 27 points in the 100-91 upset win over Oregon, posting a season-best seven rebounds with four assists and a steal. The junior shot 8-of-16 from the field (.500 FG percentage) and 10-of-12 from the charity stripe (.833 FT percentage). In the 64-58 win over Oregon State, Booker went 3-of-10 in field goals and was a perfect 6-of-6 from the free-throw line. He also tallied four rebounds, four steals, and two assists to go with his team-high 13 points. It marks the third career weekly honor for Booker, who earned his second earlier this year on Dec. 9 and his first as a sophomore on Nov. 19, 2012.  It is CU’s fifth player of the week honor all-time since joining the Pac-12. Booker joins Oregon State’s Roberto Nelson as the only multiple conference winners this season.

January 5th – Boulder          No. 20 Colorado  100, No. 10 Oregon 91

Askia Booker posted a career-high 27 points, with Spencer Dinwiddie going for 23, as No. 20 Colorado took down No. 10 Oregon, 100-91. Josh Scott and Xavier Johnson each added 15 points, with Scott posting his fifth-consecutive double-double with a game-high 12 rebounds.

 “Well that was a high level basketball game, obviously,” said Tad Boyle. “It was a treat for anyone who was in the building today. They got treated to a knockdown drag out by two very good teams and legitimate top 20 teams. I’m glad we were at home. Our guys really hung in there when we got down in the second half. This team has toughness, they have resilience and they believe in each other. We were kind of at the brink there when we called the timeout and we were down by 10. Our guys responded. I’m really proud of our team, but I also want to make everyone understand that what makes this win so satisfying is the respect that have and that I have for Dana Altman and the Oregon program, the players. We beat a good team today. It wasn’t given to us. We had to earn it, and that team is going to win a lot of games in our league. I don’t know if we don’t have to or we don’t get to go to Eugene this year. I’m not sure how to phrase that, but that’s the only time we’re going to play them until maybe the conference tournament. It was fun.”

Boyle wasn’t concerned about giving up 91 points to the highest-scoring team in the nation. “It was good. We want to run,” said Boyle. “I wish every team would come into the Coors Events Center and run with us like Oregon. It’d be fun for you guys, fun for our fans. That’s the way we want to play, we really do. I would’ve liked to hold them in the 70’s if we could, but again, they’re explosive. That’s the way we want to play. We want to play fast, get up and down and have high possession games. It’s fun to watch, it’s fun to play and it’s fun to coach. That was fun today, and to me, that’s what college basketball is all about. I wish everyone would come in and run the way Oregon does. I don’t think everybody will, but they’re going to beat a lot of teams playing that way.”

The Buffs hit on 56% of their shots on the game (31-for-55), hitting 33-of-39 free throws (85%). Mike Moser led the Ducks with 24 points, including three three-pointers, before fouling out 1:30 to play.

Game Notes

The win gives CU a 13-2 (2-0) mark, the best start by a Colorado team since the 1968-69 team opened with a 14-2 record on its way to a Big Eight championship. The second win over a top ten team in the same season? You only have to go back three seasons to find a similar occurrence, as the Buffs took down No. 9 Missouri and No. 5 Texas in the 2010-11 campaign (Tad Boyle’s first). Colorado now leads the all-time series with Oregon, 8-3, with a 5-0 record in games played in Boulder

… Colorado has won five of the six meetings between the teams since joining the Pac-12

… Oregon became the first team to break 80 against the Buffs this season, with the 91 points the most since Arizona scored 92 in an overtime game last season

… Colorado is now 11-11 against ranked teams under Tad Boyle, including an impressive 5-6 mark against teams ranked in the top ten nationally

… 10,398 were in attendance

… The last time CU had two 20-point scorers in the same game came against Cal in 2011

… The last time CU scored 100 points in a game came against Texas Tech in 2010.

Game Recap … Oregon, averaging almost 90 points per game, opened the scoring with a three-pointer on their first possession. Josh Scott answered for the Buffs with a jumper, making it a 3-2 game early. Oregon remained perfect on its end with a jumper for two, but Wesley Gordon got a put-back basket on an Askia Booker miss. The teams then cooled down, alternating misses and turnovers before Oregon hit another three-pointer to double up the Buffs at the under 16 break, 8-4.

Askia Booker made a pair of free throws to cut the lead to 8-6, with Booker hitting a jumper on CU’s next possession to tie the game at eight apiece. Then Jaron Hopkins, on a steal, gave CU its first lead of the game at 10-8 with a layup. Oregon quickly tied the game again on its next possession with a layup, with the Ducks then retaking the lead on a transition layup and foul on the Buffs. A transition three-pointer later, and, all of the sudden, it was an 8-0 run for the Ducks. Xavier Talton stopped the bleeding with a layup, making it a 16-12 game, but then Oregon hit another open three-pointer to make it a seven point lead at the under 12 timeout. Oregon 19, Colorado 12.

A pair of free throws by the Ducks made the run 13-2, upping the lead to 21-12. Xavier Johnson then made a pair of free throws on the other end, with Josh Scott following with another two free throws to make it a 21-16 game. Oregon then hit a jumper on its end to stop the Buffs’ modest 4-0 run. Spencer Dinwiddie, held scoreless in the first 11 minutes of the game, was then fouled on a three-point attempt. Dinwiddie made all three, cutting the lead to 23-19, with Dinwiddie making a layup on CU’s next possession to make it 23-21. Oregon, though, got a dunk its next time down, making it a 25-21 game at the under eight media timeout.

Dinwiddie hit a pair of free throws out of the break (making CU 11-for-11 for the game) to cut the lead to two points, but another dunk for the Ducks restored the four point lead. Askia Booker then hit the Buffs’ first three-pointer of the game, with Xavier Johnson getting a layup on a feed from Wesley Gordon to give CU a 28-27 lead. Timeout, Oregon. The teams then traded baskets, with CU getting its score from Wesley Gordon. Another dunk for Oregon gave the Ducks the lead back, with Askia Booker giving CU the lead back with a jumper. A Josh Scott jumper gave CU its largest lead of the game, at three points, 34-31, at the under four break.

After Oregon missed an open three-pointer, Askia Booker fed Xavier Johnson for a basket and a foul. Johnson converted, and CU had a 37-31 lead. Askia Booker then connected on a fadeaway jumper, and, just list that, it was a 39-31 game. Oregon connected on its next possession, making it a six point game, with the lead down then to four on a transition basket by the Ducks. Tre’Shaun Fletcher next made a traditional three-point play for the Buffs to make it a 42-35 game with two minutes to play in the half. A pair of free throws by Oregon made it a five point game, with the lead down to three after a layup by the Ducks. An offensive foul by Xavier Johnson, but Oregon couldn’t take advantage. A put-back by Josh Scott made it a 44-39 game, with Oregon then holding for the last shot of the half, with the Ducks burying a desperation three to give the Ducks some momentum going into the break.

Halftime score: No. 20 Colorado 44, No. 10 Oregon 42

At intermission, the stats showed that CU was doing everything it had to do to defeat the No. 10 team in the nation. The Buffs were hitting 55% from the field (15-of-27), and were a perfect 13-for-13 from the free throw line. The Buffs were also ahead in rebounds, 18-13, including six offensive rebounds. Still, the goal had been to keep Oregon below 80 points for the game, and the score indicated that the final score would be well into the 80’s.

Askia Booker had 11 points to lead the Buffs at the break, with Josh Scott adding eight points and seven rebounds. Spencer Dinwiddie and Xavier Johnson each had seven first points, with CU’s starters posting 37 of the Buffs’ first 44 points. The Buffs were unable to get off a shot in its first possession of the second half, with the Ducks forcing a timeout and then a turnover with a trap defense. The Ducks then tied the game on their first possession on a jumper. The Ducks then extended their overall run to seven points with a short jumper, taking the lead at 46-44. A put-back by Josh Scott tied the game, but Oregon regained the lead with a jumper on its next possession. The teams then traded misses from in close before Xavier Johnson got a dunk to again the tie the game. Oregon next scored on its next two possessions, including a foul on the second one. At the under 16 break, Oregon was out to a 52-48 lead, with a free throw still to come.

Oregon remained perfect from the line, finishing off the three point play to extend the lead to five. A turnover led to a dunk, and, just like that, Oregon was up seven, at 55-48. A three-pointer from Oregon brought about a timeout for Colorado. With a 16-4 run to open the half, Oregon had a ten point lead, at 58-48, with 14:22 to play.

A Dinwiddie layup on CU’s next possession finally gave the Buff fans a reason to cheer, with an offensive goal-tending call on Oregon giving the Buffs a chance to chip away at the lead. Askia Booker delivered with a floater, making it a six point game, at 58-52. Oregon was fouled on a three-point attempt, but the Ducks missed all three. Josh Scott was then fouled on the other end, making both to cut the lead to four, at 58-54. The Buffs did have a chance to cut the lead to two, but turned the ball over. On the other end, Oregon made a pair of free throws to make it a six point game, at 60-54. Josh Scott made a layup for the Buffs, but Oregon quickly hit a jumper to again make it a six point game. Spencer Dinwiddie next hit a long three-pointer to cut the lead in half. Oregon 62, Colorado 59, at the under 12 media timeout.

Xavier Johnson then cut the lead to one point with a layup, and the Buffs had a chance to take the lead, but Spencer Dinwiddie was called for an offensive foul. Another offensive goaltending call on Oregon gave CU the ball back, with Jaron Hopkins giving CU the lead back with an open three-pointer. Timeout, Oregon. Colorado 64, Oregon 62, with 9:22 to play.

A layup for the Ducks on their next possession tied the game, with Spencer Dinwiddie hitting his second three-pointer of the second half to make it a 67-64 game. Oregon again converted on its end, but Spencer Dinwiddie hit another three on the other end, and it was a four point lead for Colorado, 70-66, at the under eight timeout.

Spencer Dinwiddie made a pair of free throws out of the break to give him 20 points for the game, and CU a 72-66 lead. The Ducks hit a jumper to cut the lead to four, with Oregon then hitting a pair of free throws to make it a two point game, at 72-70. Askia Booker hit a jumper to stop the 4-0 run, but Oregon quickly hit a short jumper to make it a two point game again. Xavier Talton then got into the act, making a layup for the Buffs. After forcing a miss on the other end, Askia Booker was fouled in a three-point attempt. Booker missed two of the three, but the one free throw made it a five point game, at 77-72, with 5:50 to play.

On CU’s next possession, Xavier Talton was fouled, making both to push the lead to 79-72. The Ducks had four attempts on their next possession, but couldn’t convert. Josh Scott was fouled after Oregon’s fourth miss, hit one of two free throws to make it an eight point game, at 80-72. Oregon responded with a long three-pointer, cutting the lead to five, at 80-75, with 4:48 to play. Askia Booker then scored on a drive, and was fouled on the play. Booker hit the free throw to give him 19 points, and give CU an 83-75 lead. Oregon then hit another three-pointer, reducing the lead to five, but Booker pushed the lead back out to seven, at 85-78, at the last media timeout.

Oregon made one of two free throws coming out of the break, making it a six-point game. A Josh Scott missed was then tapped in by Xavier Johnson, making it 87-78. On the Ducks’ next possession they made one of two free throws, cutting the lead to seven points. A Xavier Johnson dunk, with a nice assist from Spencer Dinwiddie, gave CU its largest lead of the game, at nine points, with 2:40 to play. Oregon missed on its next possession, with Askia Booker being fouled in transition. Askia Booker made both, tying his career-high at 23 points, giving CU an 11-point lead at 91-80.

Oregon hit two free throws on their next possession, with a turnover leading to a quick basket for the Ducks. Colorado 91, Oregon 84, with still over two minutes to play. Xavier Talton made one of two free throws on CU’s next possession, but Oregon did not connect on its end. The Buffs were not able to hold onto the ball, allowing Oregon to convert a layup, making it a six point game with 90 seconds to play. Askia Booker was then fouled, making it a new career high, with 25 points, making both free throws.

Yet another three-pointer by the Ducks, No. 9 for the game, made it a 94-89 game with 82 seconds still to play. An offensive foul on the throw in gave Oregon the ball back with no time off the clock, giving Oregon another chance to cut into the CU lead. Oregon had two chances to score, but did not connect. Xavier Talton was fouled with 53 seconds to play, making one of two. Colorado 95, Oregon 89. Oregon missed a three-pointer on its end, giving CU the ball back. Spencer Dinwiddie was fouled, with Dinwiddie making one of two to push the lead to seven points.

Oregon then missed another three, and again Dinwiddie was fouled. Dinwiddie then pushed his point total to 23 with a pair of free throws. Yet another miss by Oregon sealed the deal, with the Buffs taking the ball with the score at 98-89. Askia Booker made it an even 100 points for the Buffs with free throws with nine seconds to play. Free throws for Oregon with 1.1 seconds to play gave them their season scoring average, but it was not enough.

Final score: No. 20 Colorado 100, No. 10 Oregon 91

 

January 2nd – Boulder         No. 20 Colorado 64, Oregon State 58

Colorado struggled all evening against Oregon State, finally taking down the Beavers, 64-58, to open Pac-12 play. “Good win . . . welcome to Pac-12 Conference play,” a relieved Boyle said. “Nothing’s going to be easy. Anybody who saw the game saw the talent and skill Oregon State has (and) with Moreland back, they’re a different animal . . . they just keep coming at you with athletes off the bench.” The Buffs, less than a week removed from making 26-for-26 free throws against Georgia, made 17-of-27 against the Beavers.

Colorado made only 5-of-20 three-point attempts, while Oregon State made 8-of-15 (8-of-12 before the Beavers started heaving desperation three pointers in the final minute). Three Buffs posted 13 points apiece, getting there in different ways. Freshman Jaron Hopkins set a new career-high for scoring, hitting five-of-eight from the field. Askia Booker got to 13 with only three-of-ten from the field, but six-of-six from the free throw line. Josh Scott hit five-of-11 from the field, but an uncharacteristic 50% (3-of-6) from the free throw line. Oregon State out-rebounded Colorado, 37-34, but had 17 turnovers – to only seven for the Buffs.

Oregon survives against Utah

Utah was working the clock for the last shot in overtime in a tie game, but threw the ball away. Oregon scored on a breakaway dunk with 0.6 seconds remaining, getting out of Salt Lake City with a 70-68 overtime win.

Game story from ESPN … One possession changed the game for No. 10 Oregon and Damyean Dotson played the most important role in letting it unfold. Faced with Utah setting up a potential game-winning shot in the waning seconds of overtime, Dominic Artis tipped a pass intended for Dallin Bachynski to Dotson and he raced down the court for a breakaway dunk with 1 second left. Dotson’s basket sealed a 70-68 comeback victory in dramatic fashion and helped the Ducks remain unbeaten on Thursday night in the Pac-12 opener for both teams.

“That was unbelievable,” said Dotson, who finished with 11 points. “I never had a game-winner like that before. It’s the greatest feeling for me. That’s a great way to start conference (play).” Richard Amardi had 14 points and Artis added 12 for Oregon (13-0, 1-0), which rallied from a 10-point deficit in the second half. The Ducks are off to their best start since winning 13 straight games to open the 2006-07 season. Oregon won despite shooting only 38.7 percent (24 of 62) from the field. The Ducks made up the difference by holding the Utes to 38.1 percent (24 of 63).

Both teams ranked in the top five nationally in field goal percentage coming into the game. “Nobody got a rhythm to their offense,” Oregon coach Dana Altman said. “They’re a good offensive team. I like to think we are. Neither team had a very good rhythm and missed some open shots. I don’t know if it was tight because it was the first conference game. I don’t know what it was. But there wasn’t much flow offensively to the game.” Jordan Loveridge scored 21 points for Utah, while Delon Wright chipped in 14 and Bachynski added 11 points and 12 rebounds. The Utes (11-2, 0-1) led by as many as 10 points in the second half, but could not overcome the last-second turnover.

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