Buff Basketball – January, 2015

January 31st – Los Angeles           UCLA 72, Colorado 59

From cubuffs.com … Whether it was a hangover from triple overtime or something altogether different – let’s say inconsistency, impatience and nightmarish shooting – the Colorado Buffaloes took a crosstown trip here on Saturday and went nowhere fast.

Two nights after a 98-94 three-OT win at USC, CU showed up in Pauley Pavilion with icy fingers and not much defensive fire. Bad combination, and UCLA made the Buffs pay, romping to an all-too-easy 72-59 Pac-12 Conference win.

Coach Tad Boyle discounted fatigue from Thursday night’s drawn out contest as a physical factor for Saturday’s performance. As for it contributing to mental fatigue, he wouldn’t rule that out.

“There’s a possibility, but we tried to do everything that we could to prevent that,” he said, noting that Friday’s work was tailored toward team and individual recovery. “We’re not going to use that as an excuse, absolutely not. These guys are young 20-something year old kids; they can bounce back in two days.

“Now mentally, there might have been a hangover, but physically, I’m not buying it. The second half, it just wasn’t there, the spark wasn’t there, the fight wasn’t there, the determination wasn’t there. It’s disappointing because this was a winnable game on the road.”

He credited UCLA as being a “good home team,” but added, “The Buffs weren’t very good in the second half.”

To his point: Not quite 5 minutes into the second half, the Buffs (11-10, 4-5) tied the game at 33-33 and seemed poised for a competitive final 15 minutes. Instead, the Bruins (13-9, 5-4) took control with a 25-4 run that kept CU winless against UCLA in seven trips to LA.

After shooting 50 percent in the three extra periods at USC, CU’s field goal percentage dropped to 36 percent Saturday night. Senior guard Askia Booker followed his career-high 43-point performance against the Trojans with 16 points against the Bruins, hitting 6-of-15 from the field. CU’s only other play in double figures was Wesley Gordon with ten.

“I can’t score every point,” Booker said. “I’m not going to be hot every single night. But I can get guys in position to score. If they don’t finish or convert . . . you just got to get in the gym, man. You play the game and have to get better and that includes myself. I wasn’t hot tonight so I’ll be back in the gym as soon as we get back.”

USC shot 48 percent and got double-figure scoring from three players, topped by Norman Powell’s 22. Kevon Looney added 14, with 10 rebounds, and Isaac Hamilton scored 12 points.

CU won its early January matchup with UCLA in Boulder game 62-56, beating the Bruins for the first time in Pac-12 play. But any visions of a sweep disappeared early in Saturday night’s second half. UCLA, coming off a Thursday upset (69-59) of No. 11 Utah, now leads the series with CU 9-2.

“Well, the second half we were atrocious, we just didn’t have it for whatever reason”, said coach Tad Boyle after the game. “We didn’t have it on offense, we turned the ball over nine times; We didn’t have it on defense, in the first half we took three charges, but in the second half I know at one point they (UCLA) had seven layups in the second half alone. Point being: we’re just not protecting the basket. It’s frustrating for me, watching this team in the first half competing, doing the things we ask them to do defensively, but in the second half it just wasn’t good enough, on every level, whether it’s rebounding, defense, taking care of the ball. We had some guys that didn’t play very well tonight. For us to be good, we have to do it together, we didn’t do it tonight. It just felt like that energy wasn’t there in the second half for whatever reason.”

Game Notes …

– Colorado falls to 2-9 in the all-time series with UCLA; 0-7 in games played in Los Angeles

– Wesley Gordon’s line in two games against the Bruins … 21 points, 22 rebounds, nine blocks

– Askia Booker has scored in double figures in all six games he has played against UCLA

– Booker now has 1,577 points in his career, good enough for eighth on the all-time list, passing Randy Downs (1,566; 1982-86)

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Getting to Know: UCLA Bruins

Colorado at UCLA … Saturday, 8:30 p.m., MT (Pac-12 Networks) … 850 KOA radio … Sirius Radio 92; XM 197

Bruins’ 2014-15 Record: 12-9, 4-4 in Pac-12 play (tied with Colorado for 6th)

Coach: Steve Alford, 2nd year, 40-18

Series: UCLA leads the series, 8-2. Before the Buffs beat the Bruins in Boulder on January 2nd, 62-56, to open Pac-12 conference play, the UCLA was the only team which Colorado had yet to beat since joining the Pac-12 (0-5). The Buffs’ only other victory in the series came in a game played in Boulder in 1962. Colorado has never defeated UCLA in a game played in Los Angeles (0-6).

UCLA’s record last season: 28-9 overall; 12-6 in Pac-12 play (2nd) … The Bruins won their first two games in the NCAA tournament, defeating Tulsa and Stephen F. Austin. A number four seed, the Bruins then lost their Sweet Sixteen game to No. 1 seed Florida, 62-52.

Players to watch … UCLA won the Pac-12 tournament last year, taking out Arizona in the title game. The Bruins, though, lost three players to the first round of the NBA draft (Zach LaVine, Jordan Adams, and Kyle Anderson). While the incoming freshman class was much-hyped, the reality is that UCLA has already lost as many games in year two under Steve Alford as they did all of last season.

Bryce Alford, the coach’s son, leads the team in assists (5.6 apg.) and is second in scoring (15.7 ppg.). Senior guard Norman Powell (15.9) leads the team in scoring, while Kevon Looney leads the team in rebounding (10.0). All five UCLA starters average 10+ points or more, and the Bruins are 14th in the nation in rebounding.

UCLA so far in 2014-15 … The Bruins got off to a fast start to the 2014-15 season, rattling off four straight wins over teams which are not going to get anywhere near the NCAA tournament next March. In the first real tests of the season, UCLA lost to Oklahoma (75-65) and No. 5 North Carolina (78-56) in a Thanksgiving tournament in the Bahamas, dropping the No. 22 Bruins out of the polls. Four more wins followed – again against teams which you have to look up on an atlas – before the Bruins hit a three game losing streak. UCLA lost at home to No. 9 Gonzaga, 87-74, before being mauled by No. 1 Kentucky. The final score of the loss to the Wildcats was 83-44, but even that lopsided total does not tell the whole story. Kentucky raced out to a 24-0 lead to start the game, and had a 41-7 lead at halftime. UCLA followed up that loss with another bad loss, this time to Alabama. In the Bruins’ first true road game of the season, the Crimson Tide took a 29-17 lead at halftime en route to a 56-50 victory.

In Pac-12 play, UCLA got off to a slow start, falling to both Colorado and Utah to extend its overall losing streak to five games. The Bruins then righted the ship, piecing together wins over Stanford (in double overtime), Cal, and USC. On the road last weekend, the Bruins lost to both Oregon schools, but posted an impressive 69-59 win over No. 11 Utah Thursday night.

Recap of the first game between CU and UCLA

From ESPN …   Askia Booker inspired his teammates with his words in a pre-game huddle, and then he helped make the difference with his play on the floor.

Booker scored 20 points, including a pair of free throws in the final seconds, and the Colorado Buffaloes hung on to beat UCLA 62-56 on Friday night.

It was their first win over the Bruins in nearly 53 years, and they did it without star forward Josh Scott, who was ruled out of the game earlier in the day because of back spasms.

“Right before we came on the court, I grabbed the guys in and I told them everybody in the gym doesn’t think we can win without Josh,” Booker said. “Everybody in here. But I told them we were guaranteed to win if we played hard enough and we played together, and the outcome is we won. We didn’t play too smart and I include myself in that, but we played hard and we played together.”

Xavier Johnson added 14 points and Wesley Gordon had 11 points and 14 rebounds for Colorado (8-5, 1-0 Pac-12), which overcame 18 turnovers, including a season-high 11 in the first half.

“We gained a lot of confidence from this and didn’t play our best but won,” Colorado coach Tad Boyle said. “You turn the ball over 18 times, shoot 37.5 percent from the field and won by six, you’re pretty fortunate. Obviously, with Josh not playing, Wesley stepped up, Tory Miller had some great minutes, Dustin Thomas stepped into that starting role and it was just a great team victory.”

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January 29th – at Los Angeles         Colorado 98, USC 94 … in Triple Overtime

Askia Booker did not score in the first 14 minutes of the game, but carried the Buffs from then on, going for a career-high 43 points in leading Colorado to a 98-94 win over USC in triple overtime.

With the senior guard scoring 43 points, including 19 in the three OTs, CU time and again slipped into survival mode before finally slipping past Southern California.  For the Buffs, it was a night of grit, guts and eventually glory.

The score was tied 66-66 at the end of regulation, 73-73 after one OT and 83-83 after two. But behind “Ski’s” eight points in OT No. 3, the Buffs outscored the Trojans 15-11 and ended it. Booker’s 43 points were the most scored by a CU player since Donnie Boyce scored 46 at Oklahoma State on March 5, 1994.

Xavier Johnson went for 12 points before fouling out midway through the second overtime, including a three-pointer in the final minute of the first overtime to force a second extra period. The only other Buff in double figures was Tory Miller with 11. Miller, who also had 13 rebounds, hit the game-clinching free throw with 4.5 seconds to play in the third overtime to seal the victory.

“It does”, said CU head coach Tad Boyle when asked if the win said something about the team. “I told them in the locker room it has nothing to do with the numbers on the stat sheet. It has everything to do with what’s in our chest, which was big time heart tonight. We overcame a lot, you mentioned injuries, foul trouble, on the road, it was just a gritty performance by multiple guys.

“Obviously ‘Ski’ [Askia Booker] was phenomenal,” continued Boyle. “But you look at turning the ball over 20 times and only having eight assists on the road and finding a way to win; we just found a way, and our guys did a terrific job. I was really proud of them. We went through a scoring drought that was just holy cow, I’m not sure we’ve been through some before (that were worse), but that was a long one. We finally got out of it and ‘Ski’ got going in the overtimes and that was a big time performance by him.”

Game Notes …

– The win over USC was the seventh straight for Colorado in the series, all in Pac-12 play. Buffs are now 9-3 all-time against the Trojans;

– The triple overtime tied for the third-longest game in CU history. The Buffs played a five OT game against Iowa State in 1960, and a four OT game against Oklahoma State in 1983. The win was just the second for the Buffs in six all-time games of three overtimes or longer;

– CU won its first true road game of the season despite committing a season-high 20 turnovers;

– The game represented season highs in points (98), field goals (65) and free throws attempted (42);

– CU is now 18-1 under Tad Boyle in games in which the Buffs score over 90 points;

– With 11 points and 13 rebounds, freshman Tory Miller posted his first career double-double.

… Askia Booker …

– Booker’s 43 points were the most since Donnie Boyce went for 46 against Oklahoma State in 1994. The point total ties Booker for fifth-most in CU history in a single game;

– The last time a Buff went for over 40 points was in 2000, when Jacquay Walls went for 42 against Iowa State;

– Booker set career-highs in points (43), field goals made (13), field goal attempts (23), and free throws attempted (15);

– Booker is in the top ten in CU history in points (1,581; 9th); steals (138; 10th); and career minutes (3,443; 7th). Booker is also 12th in all-time assists, with 301.

Game Recap …

The game of musical chairs continued with Colorado’s starting lineup as the Buffs took on the USC Trojans in Los Angeles. Xavier Johnson (ankle) returned to the lineup, but the Buffs were forced to play without Jaron Hopkins (ankle). Meanwhile, Josh Scott (back) stayed home.

Dustin Thomas, though, remained a constant, and was glad to see the Trojans again. In the January 4th game in Boulder, Thomas posted a career-high 17 points, and Thomas began the return match with a 6-0 run in the first few minutes of play. After USC opened the scoring with a quick basket, but Thomas responded with a three-point play and a three-pointer to give the Buffs an early 6-2 lead. USC then responded with a 6-2 run of its own, tying the game at 8-8 at the first media timeout.

The teams then traded three-pointers, with CU’s points coming by way of Xavier Johnson’s first points in almost a month. Over the next four minutes, Colorado went cold, missing layups and free throws before turning the ball over on four straight possessions. The result was a 10-1 run by the Trojans, giving USC a 21-12 lead and forcing a CU timeout with 9:25 left in the first half.

A Dustin Thomas jumper broke the Trojan run, giving him nine of CU’s 14 points. The teams then traded baskets before a three-pointer from the Trojans gave USC a double-digit lead at the under eight timeout, 26-16.

After Eli Stalzer (in the lineup as Wesley Gordon, Dustin Thomas and Tory Miller each picked up two first half fouls) missed a three-pointer, Askia Booker got into the scoring column with a three-pointer and a jumper, cutting the USC lead in half, at 26-21. The teams then traded three-pointers, with Booker hitting the trey for the Buffs. Booker then hit another jumper, giving him ten straight points for the Buffs, making it a 29-26 game with 4:32 to play before the break.

Four straight points from the Trojans pushed the lead back out to seven points, with a three-pointer by Eli Stalzer and a layup by Tory Miller getting both players into the scoring column, and getting the Buffs to within a basket at 33-31 with three minutes to play. A three-pointer and a layup by the Trojans, offset only by a pair of free throws by Askia Booker, made it 38-33. The Buffs responded, though, as two more free throws by Booker (giving him 14 first half points), coupled with a Tory Miller layup, pulling the Buffs back to within one at halftime.

Halftime Score: USC 38, Colorado 37

USC posted the first points of the second half, with a three-pointer, but layups from Tre-Shaun Fletcher and Askia Booker tied the game at 41-41 a minute into the second half. A Xavier Johnson block on USC’s possession gave the Buffs an opportunity to take their first lead of the second half, with Booker making good, connecting on a three-pointer to make it a 44-41 game.

The teams then traded baskets before a Wesley Gordon tip-in gave the Buffs their largest lead – at 48-43 – since taking an early 6-2 lead in the first half. A layup for each team – with Gordon scoring for the Buffs – made it a 50-45 game at the under 16 timeout.

Askia Booker then made one of two free throws to give him 20 points, and Colorado a six-point advantage. After the Trojans hit on one of two free throws on their end, a Xavier Johnson layup pushed the lead to seven, at 53-46. USC then posted a pair of layups, with Askia Booker hitting two free throws and a layup to keep the lead at seven, at 57-50, with 11 minutes to play.

With just over ten minutes remaining, Dominique Collier scored his first two points of the game on a layup, pushing the lead to nine, at 59-50. A pair of Tory Miller free throws two minutes later gave Colorado its first double-digit lead of the game, at 61-50. The 6-0 run by the Buffs was ended by a three-pointer from the Trojans, leaving it a 61-53 game at the under eight media timeout.

Dominique Collier hit one of two free throws to make it a nine point advantage, with the Trojans hitting three of four free throw attempts on their next two possessions to make it a 62-56 game as the clock ticked down to six minutes. After Askia Booker turned the ball over for the third straight possession, the Trojans were able to make it a four point game with a layup. Xavier Johnson then missed the front end of a one-and-one, with the Trojans making a pair of free throws on their end. Just like that, an 11-point lead for Colorado was down to two, at 62-60. Dominique Collier then missed a pair of free throws, leaving CU with a precarious two-point advantage at the last television timeout.

Xavier Talton made a pair of free throws to stop the bleeding, making it a 64-60 game, with the Trojans missing a pair of free throws after Dustin Thomas, quiet since the early part of the first half, picked up his fifth foul. The Buffs couldn’t take advantage, however, with Askia Booker’s fifth turnover of the game leading to a three-pointer for USC. Colorado timeout – 64-63, with 2:40 left in the game.

After the timeout, Dominique Collier, one-for-four on free throws in the game, calmly sank a pair to make it a 66-63 game, now with two minutes left to play. USC then hit one of two free throws to cut the lead to two. Colorado, with the lead and the ball with a minute to play, turned the ball over again, with Askia Booker picking up turnover number six. This led to a USC layup, and the first tie of the game since the 18:54 mark of the second half.

Timeout, Colorado. Game tied at 66-66, with 30 seconds to play. Xavier Johnson missed a layup for the Buffs with nine seconds remaining, with the Trojans missing on their end with two seconds to play.

End of Regulation: Colorado 66, USC 66

With just seven assists (a game after posting 25) to go with 19 turnovers, it was a wonder Colorado was still in position for its first road win of the 2014-15 season. A 34-30 rebounding advantage helped, as did 24 points from Askia Booker.

Given a reprieve from the Buffs, the Trojans took their first lead in twenty minutes of basketball, hitting a pair of free throws to take a 68-66 lead. Two free throws from Askia Booker tied the game, but USC was good on two free throws on its end to make it 70-68 midway through the five minute extra period. Xavier Talton had a chance to tie the game a few moments later, but was good on only one of two free throws. USC was good on both of its next free throw attempts, though, making it a 72-69 game with a minute-and-a-half left to play in overtime.

Wesley Gordon then hit on one of two free throws to cut the lead to two, with the Trojans hitting on one of two on their end to restore a three point advantage, at 73-70. Xavier Johnson then hit a three-pointer to tie the game, at 73-73. USC had the chance to hold the ball for the last shot, but missed.

End of First Overtime: Colorado 73, USC 73

As has been the case in the opening of the game, the second half, and the first overtime … USC scored first in the second overtime, hitting a three-pointer to make it a 76-73 game. Askia Booker pushed his point total to 28 with a jumper to make it 76-75.

Xavier Johnson, the only other Buff in double figures, with 12, then fouled out midway through the second overtime, with the resulting free throws making it a 78-75 game. Wesley Gordon then continued CU’s woes from the free throw line, hitting only one of two before a three-pointer from the Trojans seemingly turned the game for good. The four-point turnaround made it an 81-76 game, but Askia Booker wasn’t finished. A three-pointer and a pair of free throws over the next thirty seconds tied the score at 81-81 with ninety seconds to play.

Both teams had opportunities for three pointers on their next possessions, but both missed. USC had the ball and called timeout with 38 seconds remaining to set up their next play. A basket on a layup with 19 seconds remaining gave USC the lead once again, with Wesley Gordon becoming the third Buff to foul out on the play. The free throw was missed, giving CU one last chance, with 15 seconds remaining, to tie or win the game.

Askia Booker again came to the Buffs’ rescue, with his layup with nine seconds remaining giving him 35 points, and tying the score at 83-all. USC called timeout with six seconds left to set up the final shot. The three-pointer was no good, and the teams were left to head back to their huddles to prepare for a third overtime.

End of Second Overtime: Colorado 83, USC 83

Colorado was the first team to score in the third overtime, with a pair of Dominique Collier free throws giving the Buffs their first lead since the last minute of regulation. The lead was short-lived, however, as the Trojans posted a jumper on their end to tie the score at 85-all.

After a Trojan layup gave USC the lead back, a foul on Katin Reinhardt, who had 35 points on the night, finally got him out of the game. Tory Miller hit a pair of free throws to tie the score at 87-87, with 3:41 to play in the third overtime. After a USC miss, Askia Booker gave the Buffs the lead once again, hitting a jumper with three minutes remaining to give CU an 89-87 lead.

After USC hit on one of two free throws, Booker hit another jumper, giving him 39 points, and giving CU a 91-88 advantage. A pair of free throws by USC made it a one point game again, this time with two minutes left in the third extra period. A Tory Miller tip-in of a Tre’Shaun Fletcher miss briefly restored the three point lead, but a quick layup at the other end made it a 93-92 game.

Askia Booker then pushed his total above 40 with a jumper with 37 seconds to play, with the lead again cut to one with a USC layup with 27 seconds remaining. Booker was then fouled, hitting both free throws with 14 seconds left, making it a 97-94 game with just 14 seconds to play. Rather than go for a three-pointer, the Trojans opted for the layup attempt, which was missed. Tory Miller gathered up the rebound, and was fouled with 4.5 seconds to play. Miller was good on the first, icing the game. Miller missed the second, but it didn’t matter, as the lead was now four points.

Final Score: Colorado 98, USC 94 – 3OT

 

… CU in the Arena …

One Buff back into the lineup; one more out

Note … Updates from tonight’s game will be posted, starting at halftime (tip-off 7:30 p.m., Fox Sports 1)

Tweets from “Buffalo Basketball”:

Xavier Johnson is active for tonight’s game at USC. XJ returns after missing last 4 games w/ ankle injury.

Jaron Hopkins is a scratch for tonight’s game at USC with an right ankle injury, he’s listed day-to-day

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USC basketball sounds like CU football – “Record not indicative of improvement”

From the Orange County Register … If USC really has improved, as Trojans players and coaches insist, that improvement will reveal itself against Colorado on Thursday.

The Buffaloes are the first team the Trojans will face for a second time. The first meeting, on Jan. 4, ended in a Colorado blowout. Since then, USC (9-10 overall, 1-6 Pac-12) has won only once in five games.

But if you look close enough – a microscope is helpful – you can see the positive signs the Trojans referenced after practice Tuesday.

Aside from the UCLA game – and really, it was the second half of the UCLA game – USC has been in every contest since that 86-65 loss in Boulder, Colo. The Trojans just didn’t win any of them besides the Cal game the following week.

“Our record should be better than what it is right now,” sophomore guard Katin Reinhardt said. “I feel like we’re so close. It’s right there for us.”

USC had the ball in the final seconds with a chance to win against Stanford before losing by two. It was tied with Oregon with 5:40 left before losing by eight. And it trailed Oregon State on Saturday by one with 4:17 left, but it lost by four. Those three teams are a combined 42-16 (14-7 Pac-12).

“Other than the second half of the UCLA game, I thought our last five games we’ve been a very solid basketball team with too much streakiness to get over the hump,” USC coach Andy Enfield said. “The team’s improving. They’re growing. But they’re frustrated because we need to be on the other side of that.”

That frustration hasn’t been evident on the practice court. Enfield said Tuesday that the Trojans had “two of our better practices all year the last two days.”

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January 28th

... CU in the Arena …

Askia Booker returns to Los Angeles for the last time as a Buff

A good article on Booker from B.G. Brooks at cubuffs.com. The opening …

Askia Booker is proof that you can go home again – at least for one final road trip. Beyond his playing days at the University of Colorado, the frequency of his trips back to LA will be governed by life after Buffs basketball and whatever career path awaits.

Of course, he’d like one that leads him to the rim, requires some dribbling, a fair amount of shooting and offers a monetary reward for all of the above. But that can wait.

Right now, “Ski” is focused on a Thursday night Pac-12 game at USC (7:30 p.m. MST, Fox Sports 1), then a quick crosstown turn toward a Saturday night visit to UCLA (8:30 p.m., Pac-12 Networks) and a venue – Pauley Pavilion – where Booker, or the Buffs for that matter, have never won.

Booker’s final pair of LA games will draw his mother, father, brother and a number of close friends. “I love going home,” he says. “I try to do it as much as I can outside of basketball. That’s like my safe place almost. I get to rejuvenate, get to see my brother, talk to certain people and come back with a mindset where I’m ready to go.”

Home – he played at Price High School – most certainly is where his heart resides, but maybe even a bigger part of his heart forever belongs to hoops. His passion for the game can be stated with absolute certainty. His drive to achieve is what separated him from peers in AAU ball and turned CU assistant Jean Prioleau in “Ski’s” direction.

Booker’s big shot resume is highlighted, of course, by last season’s buzzer-beater that took down Kansas in the Coors Events Center. It put him on CU fans’ forever faves list, but there have been plenty of nights in the CEC and elsewhere when the faithful roll their eyes and simply wonder “why?” after a shot is launched or an entry pass is picked off.

No disrespect meant, but “Ski” wears the term enigma like a second skin. If coach Tad Boyle ever compiles a career list of his most talented, most perplexing players, I’m betting Booker has a guaranteed spot among the top three. He might even be a runaway winner.

A couple of days ago, in light of Josh Scott’s and Xavier Johnson’s combined scoring (26.6 points) being absent for a combined 10 games, I asked Boyle if Booker has been given a “green light” to pick up the scoring slack.

He laughed and answered, “’Ski’ doesn’t need a green light . . . he’s got the scorer’s mentality. It doesn’t change with ‘Ski’ in terms of (me) wanting him to take good shots. I want him to be aggressive. We know when ‘Ski’ scores and is efficient scoring the ball, we’re pretty good. That’s with ‘XJ’ and Josh or without ‘XJ’ and Josh.

“You can’t try to do more, you just have to be efficient. When he’s efficient we’re pretty good offensively. I don’t want him to feel like there’s extra pressure and he’s got to take more shots.”

Continue reading here

Getting to Know: USC Trojans

Colorado at USC … Thursday, 7:30 p.m., MT (Fox Sports 1) … 850 KOA radio … Sirius Radio 92; XM 197

Trojans’ 2014-15 Record: 9-10, 1-6 in Pac-12 play

Coach: Andy Enfield, 2nd year, 20-31

Series:  Colorado leads the series 8-3, including all six games since joining the Pac-12. The Buffs handled the Trojans pretty easily on January4th, 86-65, in the game played in Boulder.

CU Notes Josh Scott will not only not play this weekend in Los Angeles … he’s not even making the trip.

From the Denver Post … Colorado coach Tad Boyle ended any suspense about the availability of 6-foot-10 junior center Josh Scott this week for road games against Southern California (Thursday) and at UCLA (Saturday).

Boyle said Tuesday that Scott will not make the trip. A preseason all-Pac-12 first team selection, Scott has been sidelined for almost a month with an injury to his back. Scott, averaging 13.8 points and 7.2 rebounds, has missed six of the past seven games. He played 28 minutes in a Jan. 7 Buffaloes loss at Utah but was ineffective, recording just three points and two rebounds.

Scott did not practice Tuesday.”His back spasms have gone away, but the pain and discomfort is still there,” Boyle said. “We have to get the pain to zero, especially in the lower back. He could be a little stiff, a little sore. But the pain has to go away. But he’s getting better.”

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Recap from the first meeting against USC, an 86-65 CU win on January 4th:   From ESPN … Dustin Thomas finally recaptured his smooth shooting touch. Only took him 49 games.

Better late than never, though, and even better now since he was stepping into the starting lineup for an injured Josh Scott, one of Colorado’s top scorers.

Thomas filled those big shoes by scoring a career-high 17 points to help Colorado beat Southern California 86-65 on Sunday for its sixth straight win over the Trojans.

“Hopefully this can be a springboard and a confidence builder for him,” Colorado coach Tad Boyle said of the 6-foot-7 sophomore from Texas. “When he shoots the ball well, shoots in rhythm like today, it gives us another weapon and makes us a much better team.”

A reliable outside shooter in high school, Thomas was brought in Boulder to knock down open looks. But he’s struggled throughout his career to find his range, going 7 of 40 from behind the 3-point line heading into Sunday and never hitting more than one in a game.

His shot felt effortless again against USC, making all three of his 3-point attempts as the Buffaloes (9-5, 2-0 Pac-12) rode his hot hand all the way to a win.

“It was a good day, for both our team and for myself,” Thomas said. “I’ve been in a little slump, shooting 3s late. Tonight got me out of that slump.

“Everybody stepped up.”

The Buffaloes used a 14-0 run late in the first half to break open a tight game. They never gave the Trojans a chance at a comeback as they hit four straight 3-pointers to start the second half.

USC’s record last season: 11-21 overall; 2-16 in Pac-12 play (12th). The Buffs defeated the Trojans three times last year, including a narrow 59-56 win in the opening round of the Pac-12 tournament.

Players to watch … This is not your 2013-14 Trojans .. and that’s not a bad thing for USC fans. Four starters have been replaced, with the No. 18 recruiting Class in the nation (according to 247Sports) are now on the court. The Trojans are 197th in the nation in scoring (the Buffs are not much better, at 179th), but do have three starters averaging double figures. Freshman guard Jordan McLaughlin leads the team in assists, with 4.8 per game, and is second in scoring, with 12.4 points per game. The inside threat is Strahinja Gavrilovic, a 6’10″ sophomore, who leads the team in scoring (12.9), and also leads the team in rebounds (7.8).

USC so far in 2014-15 … The Trojans got off to a rocky start to the 2014-15 campaign, falling at home in the opener to Portland State from the Big Sky Conference. USC then played in the Charleston Classic the Buffs won a few years back, going 1-2, with losses to Akron and Penn State, and a win over the same Drexel team the Buffs opened with (CU won 65-48; USC won 72-70). USC then went on to win six of its next seven games, with the best wins coming over New Mexico and Boston College … but the loss was to Army.

In Pac-12 play, the Trojans opened with a brutal series in the Rockies, falling 79-55 to Utah, then 86-65 to Colorado. After the game against the Buffs, USC won its only Pac-12 game to date, taking down Cal at home, 71-57. Since then, the Trojans have fallen at home to Stanford and UCLA, and on the road to Oregon and Oregon State. The game against the Beavers was close, 59-55, giving USC fans hope of a better second half to the Pac-12 season.

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January 26th

CU men’s basketball picks up a commitment from the Class of 2016

Cameron Satterwhite has tweeted that he has given his verbal commitment to the CU men’s basketball team.

Satterwhite is a 6’2″, 160-pound shooting guard from Gilbert, Arizona  Rivals bio

Ranked as the No. 17 prospect out of the state of Arizona as a member of the Class of 2016, Satterwhite is rated as a three-star prospect by ESPN. In 21 games so far this season for Gilbert Christian, Satterwhite is averaging 18.1 points, 5.1 rebounds and 3.1 assists per game in this, his junior season. Satterwhite has been described as a smooth, athletic scorer who has a good shooting range.

From sports360az.com … Satterwhite broke onto the scene last season as a sophomore with the Knights along side current college players Roberto Reyes and Sam Jones. The departure of those two has freed up Satterwhite to take off in 2014-15 showing off a great jump shot as well as an incredible ability to get to the basket and more often then not, dunk over a defender in his way. He is rangy and has great athleticism which will translate well at the two-guard position at the next level.

Satterwhite is the first commit to Colorado from the Class of 2016.

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January 24th – Boulder           Colorado 90, Washington State 58

Colorado ended its four-game losing skid with an impressive 90-58 mauling of Washington State. Without its three stars – Josh Scott (back), Xavier Johnson (ankle) or Askia Booker (suspension) in the starting lineup, the Buffs nonetheless took it to the Cougars, never trailing throughout the game, and never leading by less than 15 points at any time in the second half.

The CU starting lineup, consisting of four sophomores and one junior, provided a very balanced scoring sheet. Jaron Hopkins led the starters with 13, with Gordon, Talton, and Fletcher each posting ten points and Dustin Thomas eight. Askia Booker, coming off the bench after serving a penalty for being late to a team meeting, led the Buffs with 21 points, including four three-pointers. Freshmen Tory Miller (ten points and seven rebounds) and Dominique Collier (eight points) also contributed to the blowout win.

The Buffs dominated the boards, with 44 rebounds to only 28 for the Cougars. The CU players were also generated with the ball, handing out 25 assists (with only 11 turnovers).

Colorado, now 10-9, 3-4, now take the road to try and sustain its new found momentum. The Buffs will take on two teams which they beat in Boulder, USC (Thursday, 7:30 p.m., Fox Sports 1) and UCLA (Saturday, 8:30 p.m., Pac-12 Networks).

“I have a lot better feeling talking to you today than I did on Thursday night”, said Tad Boyle. “As hard as I am on our guys when we don’t play to our potential, when they do I think you have to pat them on the back and tell them that they did a good job. We had a great night defensively as well as rebounding, and offensively with 25 assists. When you play the game like that on offense it makes everybody feel good. With six guys in double figures, I was really pleased. I was happy with our bounce-back, kids are always more resilient than adults are, but just like we can’t get too down, low and dejected when we lose, we can’t get too giddy when we win.

“We played well today and I think you saw what this team is capable of doing when we do the things that we talk about, and we did it without two of our best players”, continued Boyle. “So I think that we’re starting to see some guys step up, gain confidence and evolve before our eyes. In the long run, this is going to be a good thing in Colorado basketball and in the short run it hasn’t been fun, but we’ve really competed the past few times out.”

Game Notes …

– CU improves to 6-1 all-time against Washington State, 5-0 as a member of the Pac-12 Conference;

– The 14 assists in the first half were a season high for a half; the 25 for the game were the most in the Tad Boyle era (CU had 27 in a 2009 game against Cal-Northridge, the last time CU had as many as 25 assists);

– The Buffs had season-highs in both field goal attempts (62) and made field goals (34);

– CU had six players in double figures, the first time that has happened since a 2013 romp over Jackson State;

– Askia Booker’s 21 points gave him 1,518 for his career, making him just the ninth player in CU history with over 1,500 points;

– Wesley Gordon had a double-double for the second game in a row, and for just the fourth time in his career. Gordon also had a career-high five assists, with his two three-pointers and two steals also setting new career marks;

– Xavier Talton had a career-high six assists to go with a season-high ten points;

– Tre’Shaun Fletcher tied a career-high with ten points;

– Dominique Collier’s eight points were also a career-high;

– Tory Miller also set career-highs, both in points (10) and rebounds (7).

Game Recap …

What else could go wrong?

Josh Scott (back) wasn’t expected back for the Washington State game, but Xavier Johnson (ankle) was, but was also unavailable. Then, the lone senior, Askia Booker, the one player you would think would be assuming the leadership role, was late for a team meeting, and was held out of the starting lineup.

So, how did the Buffs respond to this latest bit of drama and negative vibe?

By taking it to the Cougars, and never looking back.

The starting lineup of junior Xavier Talton and four sophomores – Tre’Shaun Fletcher, Jaron Hopkins, Wesley Gordon, Dustin Thomas – opened up an early 4-0 lead, with Dustin Thomas and Wesley Gordon hitting jumpers. After Washington State got on the board, Jaron Hopkins and Xavier Talton hit three-pointers, making it a 10-3 game. Another Cougar basket was more than offset by another Talton trey, leaving it at 13-5 at the first media break.

The fifth Buff starter, Tory Miller, then got into the scorebook with a pair of free throws and a layup. After Xavier Talton scored on a jumper assisted by Jaron Hopkins, Washington State was forced to call a timeout – 19-5, Colorado, with 14:27 to play in the first half.

An 8-0 run by the Cougars made it a game again, at 19-13, with the teams swapping baskets over the next few minutes as CU freshmen Dominique Collier and Tory Miller supplied the firepower for the Buffs. A three-pointer by Washington State brought the Cougars to within five points, at 25-20, at the ten minute mark, but the Cougars would draw no closer. The Buffs responded with a 6-0 run of their own, including free throws from Dustin Thomas and Jaron Hopkins.

One last push from Washington State, a run of 7-2, made it a 33-27 game with six minutes remaining before the break, but that would be as close as the Cougars would come the rest of the game. After a Dustin Thomas layup, a pair of three-pointers from Askia Booker, coming off the bench for the first time all season, made it a double digit lead, at 41-30, with four minutes left in the half.  A 7-1 Buff run, highlighted by a Tory Miller dunk and a Wesley Gordon three-pointer, left the Buff Nation with a satisfied feeling at the break.

Halftime score: Colorado 47, Washington State 31

Washington State star DaVonte Lacy did his part to try and keep the Cougars in the game at the start of the second half, but his five points were no match for the 11 points the Buffs opened with in the first five minutes after the half. The sophomores did the heavy lifting, with Xavier Talton posting a pair of layups, Jaron Hopkins a three-pointer, and Wesley Gordon a layup to end any remaining doubt of the game’s ultimate outcome … 58-36, Colorado.

Then Askia Booker got hot.

The (chastised?) senior then scored 12 of CU’s next 14 points, posting a pair of free throws, a pair of layups, and a pair of three-pointers. Some ten minutes remained in the game, but now it was all about stats, as Colorado had blown it open, taking a 72-45 lead.

The pace of the game then slowed, with the Buffs content to post just two more three-pointers – one each by Wesley Gordon and Jaron Hopkins – over the next four minutes. Those points were more than enough to keep the Cougars at bay, however, with CU holding a 78-51 advantage with six-plus minutes remaining in the contest.

Tre’Shaun Fletcher, the lone starter without much to show in the onslaught, scored six of the Buffs’ next 12 points, becoming the fourth starter – and sixth Buff overall – into double digits on the night.

Final Score: Colorado 90, Washington State 58

 

—–

 

January 23rd

… CU in the Arena …

Colorado vs. Washington State … Saturday, 6:00 p.m., MT (Pac-12 Networks) … 850 KOA radio … Sirius Radio 108; XM 197

NotesXavier Johnson is healthy enough to play, and has now served his suspension. The real question now is how Johnson’s suspension has affected the locker room. Will Johnson be contrite, understanding that CU could have won the last two games had he been in the lineup, and come out on fire? Will there be a renewed determination from the Buffs … or is the team hopelessly divided? … Josh Scott remains “day-to-day” with his back issues.

Cougars’ 2014-15 Record:  9-9, 3-3 in Pac-12 play (tied for 5th)

Coach: Ernie Kent, 9-9 in his first year in Pullman; Kent previously had a 325-253 record in 19 seasons with Oregon

Series: Colorado leads the all-time series 5-1, including all four games between the two teams as members of the Pac-12. Last season, the Buffs won a pair of close games, winning in a game played in Spokane, 71-70, in overtime (Spencer Dinwiddie’s last full game as a Buff), with a 68-63 win in Boulder.

Washington State’s record last season: 10-21 overall; 3-15 in Pac-12 (11th); Cougars haven’t been to the NCAA tournament since 2008

Players to watchDaVonte Lacy is the known star on the team. Lacy, a 6’4″ guard, is averaging 17.2 ppg. this season, coming off of a 2013-14 campaign in which he averaged 19.4 ppg. On the inside, 6’10” sophomore Josh Hawkinson has been a dominant force, averaging a double-double each night, with 15.2 ppg. and 10.9 rebounds per game. Washington State looks to run at every opportunity, so the Buffs will have to try and keep pace in the scoring column … this will not be a 52-50 game.

Washington State so far in 2014-15 … The Cougars are already within one win of their entire win total for the 2013-14 campaign. Washington State posted an indifferent 6-6 non-conference record, with no victories over any teams from a Power-Five conference (or a threat to make the NCAA tournament). In Pac-12 play, though, Washington State got off to a hot start, despite playing its first three games of the season on the road. The Cougars opened with a loss to Stanford, but then won close games against Cal (69-66) and Washington (80-77). Playing at home for the first time, Washington State won a shootout in overtime over Oregon (108-99), to run its conference record to a surprising 3-1. The Cougars have lost their last two games, though, falling to Oregon State (62-47), and then to No. 12 Utah on Wednesday night (86-64). Down by 20 in the second half against the Utes, the Cougars made three straight three-pointers to pull within ten, at 62-52, before fading down the stretch.

—–

 

January 22nd – Boulder          Washington 52, Colorado 50

Andrew Andrews hit a jumper with one second remaining, giving Washington a 52-50 over Colorado. The Buffs led throughout much of the game, but were held scoreless over the last three minutes, giving the Huskies the opportunity to pull out the road victory.

Playing without Josh Scott (back) and Xavier Johnson (suspension), the Buffs were without much offensive firepower against a tough defensive team. Then, when the only remaining star, Askia Booker, had an off night (early foul trouble, 2-of-13 from the field), the Buffs were not able to overcome their own deficiencies. Wesley Gordon had a double-double, with 10 points and 17 rebounds, and Jaron Hopkins went for 11 points, but it was not enough to offset 16 points from Nigel Williams-Goss and 12 points – and the game-winner – from Andrew Andrews.

Thanks to Gordon, the Buffs had a 40-35 edge on the boards, but 31.7% shooting (19-of-60) condemned Colorado to a fourth straight loss in Pac-12 play. The Buffs now must quickly regroup, as they will now have less than 48 hours before tipping off against Washington State (9-9, 3-3) on Saturday (6:00 p.m., Pac-12 Networks).

“That was a heart-breaker to say the least”, said Tad Boyle. “I’m disappointed in the loss but I’m really pleased with our effort and our fight. I thought we guarded well enough tonight; rebounded well enough tonight to win. We didn’t take care of the ball well enough and obviously we didn’t shoot the ball well enough. I thought this was one of those games where whoever had the ball last was going to win, and they had it last. We’re being tested; our toughness is being tested; our mental fortitude is being tested. We got to come back tomorrow and practice and move forward and continue to improve.”

Game Notes …

– First four-game losing streak for the Buffs since the 2010-11 season;

– Washington takes a 10-8 lead in the all-time series, including a 3-2 advantage in Pac-12 play;

– First win for Washington in a game played in Boulder since 1971;

– First time in 33 games at home in which the Buffs out-rebounded the opponent and held the opponent under 40% shooting (32-1);

– CU falls to 2-6 in games decided by single digits; 2-2 at home;

– Wesley Gordon’s 17 rebounds was a career-high. With ten points, the game represented his 4th career double-double.

Game Recap ….

Buff fans knew that Colorado was in for a tough game against Washington when it was announced that Xavier Johnson would miss the contest (suspension), and the team’s leading scorer, Josh Scott, would continue to sit out with back issues.

But when the only remaining double-digit scorer for the Buffs, Askia Booker, picked up his second foul just over two minutes into the contest, CU fans knew that scoring would be at a premium.

After spotting the Huskies an opening free throw, however, the Buffs took early control of the game. A Wesley Gordon jumper and a three-pointer from Tre’Shaun Fletcher gave CU a 5-1 lead early, extended to 7-1 with a pair of Jaron Hopkins free throws six minutes in.

A pair of layups from Washington star Nigel Williams-Goss made it a 7-5 game before Dustin Thomas got on the board with a jumper to make it a 9-5 game midway through the first half. The Huskies then retook the lead with a pair of mid-range jumpers and a three-pointer, offset only by a pair of free throws by Wesley Gordon.

Eli Stalzer then hit his first three-pointer of the season, igniting a 10-0 run by the Buffs. After Stalzer’s basket gave CU a 14-12 lead, Dominique Collier and Jaron Hopkins both posted layups. When Askia Booker scored his first points of the game on a three-pointer with five-and-a-half minutes left to play before halftime, Washington was in need of a timeout, with CU up 21-12.

Free throws and a three-pointer from the Huskies, offset by a layup from Dustin Thomas and a free throw from Tre-Shaun Fletcher made it a 24-17 game at the under four minute timeout. The remainder of the first half was a series of missed opportunities by both teams, with a Williams-Goss jumper with 45 seconds remaining the only points scored by either team.

Halftime score: Colorado 24, Washington 19

With two of CU’s leading scorers out, and its third leading scorer in foul trouble, the Buffs had to rely on their defense. CU held Washington to 30% shooting in the first half (7-for-23), but only shot 29% (8-for-27) themselves. Four of CU’s starters – Wesley Gordon, Dustin Thomas, Tre’Shaun Fletcher and Jaron Hopkins – each had four points at the break, with the remaining starter – Askia Booker – limited to three points on one-of-four shots.

The Buffs opened the second half scoring with a Jaron Hopkins jumper, answered quickly by a pair of free throws by the Huskies, making it 26-21. A Wesley Gordon dunk briefly gave Colorado a seven point advantage, but Nigel Williams-Goss became the first double-digit scorer in the game with two baskets to make it a 28-25 game three minutes into the second half. Jaron Hopkins then doubled the CU lead with a three-pointer, but free throws by Willams-Goss made it 31-27, Colorado. Two made free throws from Tre’Shaun Fletcher extended the lead back to six for the Buffs, but a pair of dunks by the Huskies made it a 33-31 game at the first media break of the second half.

A Shawn Kemp, Jr., layup at the 15 minute mark tied the score at 33-all, but a Tre’Shaun Fletcher three-pointer restored the lead for Colorado. A Jaron Hopkins steal next led to a Dustin Thomas jumper, prompting a Washington timeout with CU back up by five, at 38-33, with 13 minutes remaining. Washington then responded with a 5-0 run of its own, tying the game again at 38-all. A pair of Tory Miller free throws gave CU the lead back, but then the Huskies took their first lead since the nine minute mark of the first half with a three-point play from Shawn Kemp, Jr., taking a 41-40 advantage. Askia Booker’s first basket of the second half next restored the lead for the Buffs, but free throws and then a three-pointer from Andrew Andrews gave Washington its first lead of greater than one point, at 46-42, at the under eight timeout.

A Shawn Kemp, Jr., layup made it a 7-0 Washington run before Jaron Hopkins became the first Buff in double digits to end the streak. Hopkins’ dunk gave him 11 points, and cut the lead to four, at 48-44. Two possessions later, a Dustin Thomas tip-in of a Tre’Shaun Fletcher miss cut the lead to two, with a Wesley Gordon dunk tying the game at 48-all with four minutes left to play.

Wesley Gordon next scored again, this time on a tip-in of a Jaron Hopkins’ miss, giving CU an 8-0 run and a 50-48 lead with three minutes to play. Two free throws by the Huskies at the 2:16 mark ended the Buff run, however, tying the game at 50-all. Askia Booker missed three shots in succession over a minute of game clock, but Washington was not able to capitalize, missing shots on its end as well.

After a Jaron Hopkins turnover with 34 seconds to play, Washington held for the last shot. With one second remaining, Andrew Andrews took the shot … and made it.

Final Score: Washington 52, Colorado 50

——

 

January 21st

… CU in the Arena …

Washington at Colorado … from the perspective of the Huskies

From the Seattle Times … From the Huskies’ perspective, the House of Horrors metaphor aptly describes the Coors Events Center.

Since the Buffaloes joined the Pac-12 in 2011, trips to Colorado have resulted in a couple of Rocky Mountain massacres for the Washington men’s basketball team.

Last February, the Buffs needed six minutes to race to a 16-point lead before stampeding Washington 91-65. The 26-point drubbing was the most lopsided loss of the year for UW.

“Last year we played terrible,” sophomore guard Nigel Williams-Goss said. “I don’t think we want to take anything away from last year.”

There’s not much to salvage from Washington’s 2012 visit to Colorado, which resulted in a demoralizing 87-69 defeat.

“They just flat-out beat us both times,” coach Lorenzo Romar said. “A couple years ago when we were there, I remember we got off to a double-digit lead at halftime. They cut it down, then ended up beating us pretty good.”

For Washington (13-4, 2-3 Pac-12) to win Thursday’s 6:30 p.m. PT game at Colorado, the Huskies must successfully combat three factors that have contributed to the Buffaloes’ rapid rise to prominence in the conference.

First, the elevation. CU strategically places placards throughout the arena reminding visitors that the elevation is 5,430 feet.

A sign inside the opponent’s locker room reads: “Strenuous exercise should be avoided by anyone not acclimated to this altitude.”

Romar acknowledged the mile-high altitude can be a factor, but added: “It affects you for about three to five minutes. The beginning, you just realize that you’re a little short of breath more than you normally are. But then after a while, you kind of get your second wind and you’re ready to go.”

Next, the fans: The Buffaloes average 9,614 for their nine home games, third in the Pac-12 behind Arizona (14,556) and Utah (11,041). UW averages 6,204 home attendance, which ranks sixth in the league.

“They have a really good fan base,” Williams-Goss said. “Last year, they had a really good crowd that was energetic. It’s just a tough venue to play.”

And finally, the Buffaloes. Coach Tad Boyle has guided CU to three straight NCAA tournament appearances and four consecutive seasons of at least 21 wins. It’s the most successful four-year stint in the history of the program.

This season, however, reality has yet to meet expectations. The Buffs were picked third in the Pac-12 preseason media poll and they’ve stumbled to a 9-8, 2-3 mark.

—–

 

January 20th

… CU in the Arena …

Colorado vs. Washington … Thursday, 7:30 p.m., MT (Fox Sports 1) … 850 KOA radio … Sirius Radio 108; XM 197

NoteXavier Johnson is healthy enough to play, but is serving a suspension for violating team rules. Johnson will be available for Saturday’s game against Washington State (Saturday, 6:00 p.m., Pac-12 Networks).

Huskies’ 2014-15 Record:  13-4, 2-3 in Pac-12 play (tied with Colorado for 7th)

Coach: Lorenzo Romar, 264-147; 13th year at Washington

Series: Washington leads the all-time series, 9-8. The teams have split the series, 2-2, since Colorado joined the Pac-12, with each team winning their home games. Last season, Washington won the game in Seattle, 71-54, Spencer Dinwiddie’s last game in a Colorado uniform. The Buffs won the rematch in Boulder, 91-65.

Washington’s record last season: 17-15 overall; 9-9 in Pac-12 play (tied/8th) … The Huskies lost in the first round of the Pac-12 tournament to Utah, ending their season.

Players to watch … Lorenzo Romar is the dean of Pac-12 coaches, leading the Huskies since 2002. Washington, though, hasn’t been to the NCAA tournament since 2011, which is making the natives a little restless. Romar’s chances of returning for a 14th season received a boost when sophomore guard Nigel Williams-Goss opted to return instead of taking his chances on the NBA draft. Goss leads the team in both scoring (14.6 ppg.) and assists (6.6 apg), and is a force to be reckoned with by the Buffs’ backcourt. What helped Washington sprint out to an 11-0 record and a No. 13 national ranking, however, has been the improved play of the front court. Center Robert Upshaw, all 6’11” of him, is a transfer from Fresno State, and leads the team in rebounding, at 8.2 rpg. Another force to be reckoned with is guard Mike Anderson, a 6’4″ senior. Anderson is second on the team in both assists and rebounds. Overall, Washington is 20th in the nation in rebounds (Colorado is 141st).

Washington so far in 2014-15 … The Huskies were the surprise team of the non-conference season, racing out to an 11-0 record, including wins over No. 13 San Diego State and No. 15 Oklahoma. Washington was ranked 13th in the nation, and had only one final tune-up game to be played before opening Pac-12 play, a home game against Stony Brook. Instead of rolling over, the Seawolves from New York won their first road game in seven attempts, surprising the Huskies, 62-57. The loss precipitated a four-game losing streak for Washington, with the Huskies falling in road games against the Bay Area schools and at Washington State. The Huskies have since rebounded, however, with a pair of wins against the Oregon schools, taking out Oregon State 56-43 and Oregon 85-77.

—–

 

January 19th

… CU in the Arena …

Xavier Johnson healthy … but suspended

Full story at the Daily Camera … Even if Xavier Johnson is ready to play on Thursday night, the Colorado junior will sit one more game.

CU head basketball coach Tad Boyle said Monday that Johnson has been suspended for Thursday’s game against Washington for an off-the-court incident last week.

That incident is also the reason that Johnson was sent home from Arizona on Friday, a day before the rest of the team went home.

“He won’t be playing Thursday,” Boyle said. “He’ll be playing on Saturday.”

Johnson has not played since spraining his right ankle about six minutes into a 74-49 loss at Utah on Jan. 7.

——

 

January 18th

… CU in the Arena …

CU women earn season sweep of Utah with convincing road victory

From cubuffs.com … The Colorado women’s basketball team required overtime to defeat Utah on Wednesday night in Boulder, but on Sunday afternoon no extra time was needed for the Buffaloes to record a memorable road win.

Parlaying torrid 3-point shooting in the second half and skin-tight defense all game on the Utes’ Taryn Wicijowski, the Buffaloes took care of business in regulation and left the Huntsman Center with a 73-54 Pac-12 Conference victory.

CU (9-8, 2-4) won for the second time on the road this season and for the first time in Pac-12 play. It was the Buffs’ largest conference road win in 12 years — or since a 71-50 triumph at Kansas in 2003, current CU coach Linda Lappe’s senior season.

The Buffs hit eight of their 14 3-point field goal attempts, including going 7-for-11 in the second half. Their final shooting numbers: 44.9 percent from the field, 57.1 from beyond the arc. But they hit 63.6 in the final 20 minutes from long range and 57.1 percent from the field overall in the second half.

Just as impressive, though, as the Buffs’ marksmanship was their inside defense on Wicijowski, who nearly singlehandedly carried the Utes in their 77-72 OT loss on Wednesday in Boulder.

In that game, Wicijowski led all scorers with 29 points and all rebounders with 14. But four days later, the Buffs had her figured out; she finished with six points – none in the second half – and three rebounds – none in the first half.

And after scoring a career-high 26 points on Wednesday night, senior Lexy Kresl again found Utah’s defense to her liking. She led all scorers Sunday with 18 points, but got help from Haley Smith (11) and Jamee Swan (10).

The Buffs also went 13-for-14 from the free throw line, got 17 points off of 12 Utes turnovers and committed just nine themselves. They outrebounded the Utes 36-28, with Jen Reese grabbing a team-high seven boards.

—–

 

January 17th – at Arizona State          Arizona State 78, Colorado 72

Colorado had an opportunity to post its first road win of the season against Arizona State, but the Buffs, playing without Josh Scott and Xavier Johnson for the second consecutive game, were unable to stay with the Sun Devils late, falling 78-72.

The Sun Devils came into the game 0-4 in Pac-12 play, and had struggled against some of the better teams in the league. Without two of their top three scorers, however, Colorado did not qualify as one of the better teams in the league. Askia Booker had another big game, going for 21 points, and did receive some help from his teammates. Jaron Hopkins had 20 points, with ten each from Wesley Gordon and Tre’Shaun Fletcher. The fifth starter, Dustin Thomas, managed only one point before fouling out.

Colorado did hold the rebounding edge, at 33-28, but had 13 turnovers and made only 10-of-17 free throws in a game where every point mattered.

“Winnable game. There no reason why we shouldn’t have won this basketball game,” said Tad Boyle. “It’s always something and tonight it was our defense in the second half let us down. They shoot 71 percent in the second half and it’s amazing we’re in the game. I told our guys in the locker room, ‘This says something about our team that’s going well when we’re in a game like that when you’re giving up 71 percent on your defensive end’. We’re getting better in spots, there’s no question about it. I thought we had some good individual performances tonight; [G] Jaron [Hopkins] and [Tre’Shaun Fletcher] were really good offensively and are hopefully gaining some confidence. You know that [ASU F Jonathan] Gilling and [G Bo] Barnes are shooters and you let shooters get hot and you have problems on your hands. That was the difference in the game was their three-point shooting”.

Game Notes …

– This was the third straight loss for the Buffs, the most since losing four straight four years ago, when Colorado was still in the Big 12 conference;

– CU fell to 0-6 in games in which the opposition had a higher shooting percentage;

– Askia Booker had a career-high 22 field goal attempts, and led the Buffs in scoring for the fifth straight game;

– Jaron Hopkins had a career-high 20 points, along with career highs in field goals (7) and attempts (11).

Game recap … Playing without Josh Scott (back) and Xavier Johnson (ankle) for the second consecutive game, the Buffs were short-handed in a “must-win” game against an Arizona State team which was 0-4 in Pac-12 play.

With Askia Booker the obvious choice to guard when CU had the ball, sophomore guard Jaron Hopkins stepped up early for the Buffs. In the first six minutes of play, Hopkins had a pair of layups, a free throw and a three-pointer, going for eight of CU’s first ten points. His efforts were not enough to build a lead, however, as the teams were tied at 10-10 six minutes into the game.

The offensive onslaught slowed over the next few minutes, with a Wesley Gordon dunk the only points for either team. A Dominique Collier layup then gave the Buffs a 14-10 lead, but then it was the Sun Devils’ turn to score. Two layups and a three-pointer by Arizona State, offset by only a pair of free throws from the Buffs, gave the Sun Devils a 17-16 advantage.

A three-pointer from Askia Booker gave the Buffs the lead back, at 19-17, but a dunk and a three-pointer by ASU gave the Sun Devils the lead back, prompting a CU timeout with 5:36 left in the first half. ASU 22, Colorado 19.

Over the next three minutes, it was the Askia Booker show, with the CU junior posting a pair of jumpers and a layup, personally out-scoring the Sun Devils 6-0. Booker’s baskets gave the Buffs a 25-22 lead with two minutes left. After a pair of free throws by the Sun Devils cut the lead to one, Booker hit a three-pointer to give CU a 28-24 lead with a minute to play. The Sun Devils posted a three-pointer of their own with 28 seconds to play, making it 28-27, Buffs. CU held for the last shot, but a turnover by Booker led to a dunk at the other end just before the horn, giving ASU the lead at the break.

Halftime score: Arizona State 29, Colorado 28

In the final seven minutes of the first half, no player scored for the Buffs other than Askia Booker, with Booker’s twelve points keeping pace with the 12 points posted by the entire Arizona State team. Still, the Buffs were alive, down only one point at the break.

After Arizona State posted a three-pointer to take a four point lead to open the second half, Wesley Gordon posted a layup to break the Booker scoring streak. The Sun Devils scored on a layup of their own before Tre’Shaun Fletcher hit two free throws and a three-pointer to give CU its first lead of the second half, at 35-34, at the 17:42 mark.

Over the next few minutes of play, both teams starting hitting from the floor. Both teams scored on three straight possessions, with CU getting a Wesley Gordon three-pointer as one of its three baskets, giving CU a 42-40 lead at the first media timeout.

A traditional three point play gave the Sun Devils the lead back, with Booker making it 44-43. Tory Miller made one of two free throws were not enough to hold off a pair of baskets by ASU, giving the Sun Devils the lead back, at 47-45. Tory Miller then scored again, this time on a layup, making it 47-all at the under 12 break.

The teams went quiet over the next four minutes, with Arizona State out-scoring the Buffs 4-3 to take a 51-50 lead. A pair of baskets by the Sun Devils were enough to take the lead, with Colorado managing only a basket by Booker, and one of two free throws from Jaron Hopkins.

Wesley Gordon hit one of two free throws to tie the game at 51-51, but Arizona State then hit a pair of three-pointers, offset only by a steal and a dunk by Jaron Hopkins. With six minutes left to play, the Buffs were again facing their biggest deficit, at four points, 57-53.

A Jaron Hopkins layup cut the lead to two points, but a third straight three-pointer by ASU made it a five point game, at 60-55. On the Buffs’ next possession, Xavier Talton posted a three-pointer for the Buffs, cutting the lead back to two, but a pair of free throws by ASU made it a 62-58 game with four-and-a-half minutes to play. Xavier Talton then hit a pair of free throws for the Buffs to again cut the lead to two, but a three-pointer by the Sun Devils – their fourth straight basket from behind the arc – made it 65-60 at the final television timeout.

A jumper by the Sun Devils was the first two-point basket for Arizona State in five minutes of play, but it was enough to push the lead out to seven points as the game clock ticked under three minutes. From there on, it became a free throw shooting contest for the Sun Devils. Arizona State made six of eight bonus shots over the next two minutes, but the Buffs would not go away completely. Three point shots from Hopkins, Fletcher and Booker kept the Buffs within shouting distance, down four, at 73-69, with thirty-five seconds to play.

Two more free throws by the Sun Devils made it a six point game, but a fourth straight three-pointer for the Buffs, this time from Jaron Hopkins, made it a one possession game, at 75-72, with 23 seconds to play. Another pair of free throws from Arizona State pushed the lead back to five, with Askia Booker missing a three-pointer with 12 seconds remaining to end CU’s final threat. One more free throw by the Sun Devils concluded the scoring.

Final score: Arizona State 78, Colorado 72

 

—–

 

January 16th

… CU in the Arena …

Colorado at Arizona State … Saturday, 2:30 p.m., MT (Pac-12 Networks) … 850 KOA radio … Sirius Radio 108; XM 197

NoteJosh Scott (back) and Xavier Johnson (ankle) are considered to be “game time” decisions

Sun Devils’ 2014-15 Record:  8-9, 0-4 in Pac-12 play (12th)

Coach: Herb Sendek, 9th year at ASU, 149-130

Series: The all-time series is tied at 5-5, with both teams enjoying a 4-1 advantage at home. The Sun Devils had won three straight games in the series before the Buffs won at home last February, 61-52. Last time Colorado played at Arizona State was last January, and it wasn’t pretty. Coming off a 69-57 loss to Arizona, the Buffs stumbled badly against the Sun Devils, falling 72-51.

Arizona State’s record last season: 21-12 overall; 10-8 in Pac-12 play (tied/3rd) … Arizona State was a No. 10 in the NCAA tournament, and lost its first game to No. 7 seed Texas, 87-85.

Players to watch … Arizona State lost five starters from last year’s team, a squad which made the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2009. Not waiting to rebuild, Herb Sendek went against his normal inclinations and signed six junior college transfers (in ten seasons at North Carolina State, Sendek didn’t sign one). Guard Gary Blakes was the California Junior College Player-of-the-Year, and now leads the Sun Devils with 10.8 ppg. The mainstay from last year’s team is senior forward Shaquielle McKissic, who is also averaging almost 10.8 ppg.

Arizona State so far in 2014-15 …The Sun Devils are the only winless team in Pac-12 play so far, but they have also been the only team other than the Buffs to have faced both of the conference’s top ten teams, Arizona and Utah. The Sun Devils played to a mediocre 8-5 record in non-conference play, with decent wins over UNLV and Harvard, but also suffered losses to Maryland, Alabama, Texas A&M, Marquette and Lehigh.

After opening Pac-12 play with a humbling 73-49 loss to Arizona, the Sun Devils hit the Oregon trail last weekend, and came up empty, falling in close games to both Oregon State (55-47) and Oregon (59-56). In their first home game of the Pac-12 conference season, the Sun Devils took on No. 8 Utah. The Utes dominated, racing out to a 40-23 halftime lead, never looking back in a 76-59 victory.

—–

 

January 15th – at Arizona           No. 10 Arizona 68, Colorado 54

Askia Booker became the first Buff since Alec Burks in 2011 to score 30 points in a game, but it was not enough, as Colorado fell on the road to No. 10 Arizona, 68-54. Booker posted 30 points on 11-of-17 shooting (6-of-9 on three-pointers), and had 18 of CU’s 25 first half points. Booker, though, received little from his supporting cast, with no other Buff in double figures.

Playing without CU’s other two double-figure scorers Josh Scott (back) and Xavier Johnson (ankle), the depleted Buffs played with heart, but it was not enough to overcome the talented Wildcats. The scoring column was one thing, but the loss of Scott and Johnson also hurt the Buffs on the boards, with Arizona holding a rebounding advantage of 41-26, with the Wildcats pulling down a game-changing 13 offensive rebounds.

“I’m really happy with the way we battled”, said Tad Boyle. “I thought our competiveness and our competitive spirit was great tonight, but again, we expect that and that shouldn’t be something we pat ourselves on the back for but it was much better than at Utah. As long as your players are giving you that kind of effort, as a coach there are things we have to do better and the name of this game was rebounding. We’re not making any excuses for anything. It doesn’t matter who is suiting up for Colorado, we expect to win, we expect to come in here and battle and compete. That’s what we’re concerned with. Whether we are short-handed or not, we got beat tonight by a good team and we got really beat on the boards badly”.

Game Notes …

– The last 30-point scorer for Colorado was Alec Burks, who had 33 against Texas on February 26, 2011;

– Arizona now leads the all-time series between the two teams, 12-11, having won the last five games played;

– CU started one senior (Booker) and four sophomores (Thomas, Gordon, Fletcher, Hopkins);

– Buffs have now been out-rebounded in three straight games. First time for that since the Pac-12 tournament last March;

– Booker set career highs for points (30), field goals (11) and three-pointers (6);

– CU falls to 5-12 under Tad Boyle in games against Top Ten opponents (all five wins coming at home).

Game recap … Askia Booker against the world.

Well, Askia Booker against the No. 10 team in the nation.

Without Xavier Johnson (ankle) or Josh Scott (back) in the lineup, the outlook for the Buffs against the No. 10 team in the nation looked bleak. So the sole remaining double digit scorer in the lineup, Askia Booker, took it upon himself to take on the Wildcats.

And … for awhile … it worked. Six minutes into the game, it was Askia Booker 7, Arizona Wildcats 4, with a Wesley Gordon jumper thrown in to make it an unlikely 9-4 lead for the Buffs. A few minutes later, though, a sequence of plays unfolded which would be the story of the night. With the Buffs leading 9-7, the Wildcats missed a jumper, but got the offensive rebound. This was followed by a missed layup … and another offensive rebound. This, in turn, was followed by a missed jumper … and another offensive rebound. This time, Tory Miller fouled Stanley Johnson, with Johnson posting two free throws to tie the game. At the under 12 minute media break Arizona had more offensive rebounds (5) than Colorado had in total rebounds (4).

By the time CU scored again – on a Booker three-pointer – the Wildcats had turned a 9-4 deficit into a 15-9 lead. Arizona tried to pull away, pushing the lead out to 20-14, but Askia Booker hit another three-pointer, cutting the Arizona lead in half … and giving Booker 13 of CU’s 17 points. A few minutes later, Wesley Gordon was at the free throw line, with the chance to tie the game at 23-all, but he missed the second opportunity, leaving it a one-point game, at 23-22, with five minutes remaining before halftime.

From then on, it was (almost) all Arizona. The Wildcats went on a 12-0 run, with the Buffs posting four turnovers and four fouls. Only with a three-pointer with eight seconds before the break by – who else? – Askia Booker kept the game within shouting distance for the Buffs.

Halftime score: No. 10 Arizona 35, Colorado 25

At the break, Askia Booker had 18 of Colorado’s 25 points, with no other Buff with more than three points in the scoring column. With more attention being paid to Booker, Jaron Hopkins finally got into the act, scoring six of CU’s first nine points of the second half (with Booker scoring the other three, of course). It was not enough to put a dent into the Arizona lead, however, as the Wildcats took a 44-34 lead into the first media timeout.

A jumper and a pair of free throws by Booker brought the Buffs to within six points, at 44-38, with 13:30 to play, giving the Buff Nation just a glimmer of hope of a massive upset. A three-pointer by the Wildcats, however, pushed the lead back out to nine, at 47-38. A  Dustin Thomas layup and a Jaron Hopkins dunk then gave the sellout crowd at the McKale Center something to think about. Timeout, Arizona, with 11:29 to play and the Wildcats only up by five, at 47-42.

The fairy tale ending hoped for by the Buffs, though, then faded once again into the distance. A pair of three-pointers by Arizona quickly pushed the lead back into double digits, at 53-42. Another Wildcat layup and a pair of free throws restored order for the No. 10 team in the nation, giving Arizona a 57-44 advantage at the under eight media break.

Askia Booker continued on his torrid pace, hitting another jumper and another three-pointer to give him 30 points on the night. Now, however, the Buffs were running out of time to post a comeback, with Arizona matching Booker on the scoreboard, taking a 61-49 lead into the final television timeout.

After a pair of free throws and a three-pointer were posted by the Wildcats, the Arizona fans had the rout they were looking for, with the Wildcats now up 66-49 with two minutes to play. Tory Miller hit a pair of free throws to stop the bleeding, with Tre’Shaun Fletcher hitting a three-pointer to make the final score just a little more palatable.

Final score: No. 10 Arizona 68, Colorado 54

 

… CU in the Arena …

Buffs to play short-handed against No. 10 Arizona

Tweet from Andy Katz at ESPN … From our CU-AZ game crew: “Xavier Johnson out with high ankle sprain suffered Jan 7 at Utah. Josh Scott is tentative due to back spasms.”

UPDATE … both Xavier Johnson and Josh Scott have been ruled out for tonight’s game against Arizona …

From the game preview at cubuffs.com … Colorado actually matches up fairly well defensively with the Wildcats — their half-court offense has frequently been inert under head coach Sean Miller, and this year is no different.

“As long as we clog the lane, don’t give them anything easy at the basket, make them take a lot of 17-to-20-foot jump shots we’ll be just fine,” Buffs guard Askia Booker said.

But that is not how Colorado will beat this team — the Wildcats are once again winning with frenetic, aggressive defense, the hallmark of Miller’s Arizona teams. They are second in the Pac-12 in points allowed per game and third in field goal percentage defense through an admittedly small three-game sample size.

Buff fans are all too familiar with that athletic aggression. Arizona killed CU last year by trapping ball screens — ball-handler, roll man, didn’t matter. The Buffs struggled to react to double teams and were consistently unable to pass to the open man when the traps came; they committed 34 turnovers and dished out just 11 assists in their three games against the Wildcats.

Those turnovers have been especially damaging this season. Boyle methodically ticked off the stats: Colorado is third in the Pac-12 in field goal percentage, first in three-point percentage and fifth in free-throw shooting, but it is seventh in scoring, seventh in assists and 11th in turnovers.

“The turnovers, really, are passing,” Boyle said. “We work on it in practice. I don’t know, we’re trying. Watch film, practice, put drills in, but not very successful so far.”

Arizona’s defense isn’t the soul-crushing vise that it was last year — the Wildcats clearly miss Aaron Gordon and his seven-foot wingspan — but it will still be nigh-impermeable against CU’s stagnant half-court offense. Booker offered a single word when asked where the Buffs will find points Thursday night: “transition.”

“When you can get stops and you can get up the floor, it doesn’t matter how much length you have,” Booker continued. “And you can’t trap ball screens in transition.”

CU should get good transition looks against Arizona. Its half-court offense, like the Buffs’, is often sluggish. The Wildcats are third in the Pac-12 in turnovers, but they’re ninth in assists and they don’t shoot threes or rebound well. If Colorado wins on the boards, makes smart outlet passes and runs like hell it could stay with Arizona. But those are big ifs with Scott and Johnson in the lineup. Without one, or potentially both, of them, out-rebounding the Wildcats is less likely.

——

 

January 14th

… CU in the Arena …

CU women post first Pac-12 win with overtime thriller over Utah

From cubuffs.com … The Colorado women’s basketball team had never opened conference play – any conference play – with five consecutive losses. It required an extra 5 minutes and stellar free throw shooting, but the resilient Buffs avoided that historical blemish with a 77-72 overtime escape against Utah Wednesday night at the Coors Events Center.

CU (8-8, 1-4) broke a five-game losing streak and earned its first Pac-12 Conference win of 2015.  “We worked hard for this and we deserve it,” senior Jen Reese said. “We should be very proud of it and we are.”

“It feels good to get that one,” added Buffs coach Linda Lappe. “I liked how our team came out tonight.”

That would be bold and aggressive, but the Utes (6-10, 0-5) didn’t rattle or roll over. Rallying from an eight-point second-half deficit to tie the score at 63-63 with 1:23 to play, they forced the Buffs into their fourth overtime this season – the most in program history. CU is 3-1 in those games.

The Utes held a 41-32 rebound advantage and outscored the Buffs 42-16 in the paint. But in OT, CU showed the same determination it discovered in a Sunday loss to UCLA and didn’t roll.

Two minutes into the extra period, freshman Joeseta Fatuesi hit a 3-pointer for Utah’s first lead – 68-67 – since 9-7. The teams traded one-point leads until Reese, Lexy Kresl, Jasmine Sborov and Haley Smith hit eight of 10 free throws in the final 1:33 to seal CU’s win.

“We were comfortable going into overtime – we’ve been in a lot of them — although we could have won it in regulation,” Lappe said. “But we enough plays down the stretch (in OT).”

Making those plays led to Utes fouls and to Buffs free throws. CU made 31 of 40 attempts for the night, but went 10-of-13 in the overtime. Smith was perfect in the extra period – 4-for-4 – and for the night – 11-for-11. Kresl canned 11 of her 16 foul shot tries and finished with a season-high 26 points.

 

Former Buff great Jim Davis elected to Pac-12 Men’s Basketball Hall of Honor

From the Pac-12 … A three-year letterman under the legendary Sox Walseth, Jim Davis was a two-time first-team All-Big 8 honoree in his career with the Buffs. He scored 1,110 career points, which still ranks 25th on CU’s all-time list, averaging 14.4 points and 11.2 rebounds per game with a .489 shooting percentage. Davis led the Buffs to a 53-24 record in his three years in Boulder, winning two Big 8 titles and earning two berths to the NCAA Tournament. He is also one of the few players in school history to average a double-double for two-consecutive seasons, with 13.8 points and 12.7 rebounds per game as a junior followed by 18.5 points and 12.7 rebounds per game in his senior season. At the time of his graduation, Davis was CU’s all-time leading rebounder and third all-time scorer. Davis was a fourth-round selection by the Detroit Pistons in the 1964 NBA Draft, and eventually signed as a free agent with the St. Louis Hawks in 1967. He played eight seasons in all, scoring a total of 3,997 points in his career.

—–

 

January 13th

… CU in the Arena …

Colorado at No. 10 Arizona … Thursday, 7:00 p.m.,, MT (ESPN) … 850 KOA radio … Sirius Radio 108; XM 197

Wildcats’ 2014-15 Record: 14-2, 2-1 in Pac-12 play

Coach: Sean Miller, 143-50, sixth season at Arizona

Series: The all-time series is tied at 11 games apiece. Arizona has won the last four games played between the two teams, including games played in the past two Pac-12 conference tournaments. The last win for CU was the home conference game in the 2012-13 season. CU is 2-5 all-time in games played at Arizona.

Arizona’s record last season: 33-5 overall; 15-3 in Pac-12 play (1st); the Wildcats made it into the Elite Eight in last year’s NCAA tournament

Players to watch … Freshman Stanley Johnson leads the Wildcats in scoring (13.9 ppg.) and rebounding (6.6), though sophomore Rondae Hollis-Jefferson is right behind Johnson (11.6 ppg.; 6.5 rpg.) in both categories. The two 6’7″ forwards present matchup problems for most teams, and that will be the case for Colorado as well. Despite the low-scoring loss to Oregon State (58-56) last Sunday, head coach Sean Miller was critical of the Wildcats’ defense, not the offense. “If we would have been able to get any kind of stops, we would have been able to open up a four-, six-, eight-point lead,” Miller said. “Our offense in the second half was plenty good enough.”

Arizona so far in 2014-15 … When the preseason magazines came out this past fall, there was some speculation – not unwarranted – that Arizona might run through the Pac-12 conference season undefeated. The Wildcats were an almost unanimous pick by the media writers to win the conference (one writer picked UCLA), and Arizona opened the season as the No. 2 team in the nation. The Wildcats ran out to a 12-0 record, including wins over No. 9 Gonzaga and No. 15 San Diego State, as well as Missouri, Kansas State, and Michigan. Then Arizona hit a bump in the road, falling to UNLV in the final preseason game, 71-67, to fall from the ranks of the unbeaten.

In conference play, Arizona opened with a dominant 73-49 win over rival Arizona State before hitting the Oregon trail. The Wildcats had little trouble dispatching Oregon (80-62), but then were surprised by Oregon State, 58-56, on Sunday. The second loss in four games dropped Arizona to No. 10 in the latest poll, the lowest ranking for the Wildcats since the final regular season poll of the 2012-13 season. This week marks 29 straight weeks in which Arizona has been ranked in the Associated Press top ten.

CU Notes of Note … Both Josh Scott and Xavier Johnson are “day-to-day” for Thursday’s game.  “There’s a chance” they’ll play, according to Tad Boyle … The Buffs have had few games where they have played like a complete team, and injuries to stars Josh Scott (back) and Xavier Johnson (ankle) the past few weeks haven’t made things any easier. Colorado will have had a layoff of eight days before tipping off in Tucson on Thursday night, with Arizona having played twice since the Buffs limped off the court in Salt Lake City last Wednesday. Even if fully healthy, the Buffs, as they have played so far this season, would be heavy underdogs against the Wildcats in the McKale Center. With two of their stars hurting … it could be another long night for the Buff Nation to endure.

—–

 

January 11th

… CU in the Arena …

Utah the highest ranked Pac-12 team, with Arizona falling to No. 10; Wyoming enters poll at No. 25

From ESPN

1Kentucky (63)15-01,623
2Virginia (2)15-01,561
3Gonzaga16-11,446
4Duke14-11,432
5Villanova15-11,358
6Louisville14-21,264
7Wisconsin15-21,200
8Utah13-21,185
9Kansas13-21,100
10Arizona14-21,037
11Iowa State12-2922
12Notre Dame15-2903
13Wichita St14-2832
14Maryland15-2801
15North Carolina12-4719
16West Virginia14-2627
17Virginia Commonwealth13-3578
18Oklahoma11-4485
19Arkansas13-2431
20Texas12-4345
21Seton Hall13-3298
22Baylor12-3278
23Northern Iowa14-2212
24Oklahoma St12-3132
25Wyoming15-271

 

Oregon State shocks No. 7 Arizona

From ESPN … After losing several key members from last year’s squad, holding an open tryout this fall and dropping an exhibition game to Division II Western Oregon, expectations for Oregon State this season were low.

That all changed Sunday night, when Langston Morris-Walker made a go-ahead lay-in with 26 seconds left, lifting Oregon State over No. 7 Arizona 58-56 on Sunday night for its first win over a top-10 team since 2000.

“We weren’t supposed to be anything,” Morris-Walker said.

Arizona’s T.J. McConnell missed an off-balance shot with 1 second left, and Oregon State fans rushed the court at Gill Coliseum.

Morris-Walker had 12 points and eight rebounds, and Gary Payton II had 10 points and nine rebounds for the Beavers (11-4, 2-1 Pac-12).

McConnell had 13 points and six assists, and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson scored 14 points for the Wildcats (14-2, 2-1), the third top-ranked team to lose Sunday. No. 2 Duke lost to N.C. State and fourth-ranked Wisconsin was defeated by Rutgers.

“In our circle, we knew what we were capable of, so this doesn’t come as a surprise for us,” Morris-Walker said.

McConnell had 13 points and six assists and Hollis-Jefferson scored 14 points for the Wildcats.

A gritty, defensive matchup, there were 20 lead changes and 15 ties. Neither team held more than a four-point lead.

—-

 

CU women’s rally falls short against UCLA

From cubuffs.com … For about 30 minutes of Colorado’s Sunday afternoon game against UCLA, Jen Reese was unstoppable. Her game was predictable, yet inevitable — cut, catch, turn, fire, swish, repeat.

Her career-high 30 points were almost enough to pull off the Buffs’ biggest comeback since 1982. Almost. Colorado fought back from 21 points down, but it couldn’t overcome an early rash of turnovers and poor shooting. The Buffs turned a laugher into a thriller into a heartbreaker and fell 90-84 to the Bruins at the Coors Events Center.

Nonetheless, CU coach Linda Lappe called the game “probably the best we’ve played – at least the last 30 minutes – all year long . . . I’m proud of how we competed and attacked, proud of how hard we worked. We took a good step in the right direction.”

UCLA shot 50 percent from the field, 53.8 from 3-point range (7-of-13), and had an impressive six players in double figures, led by Kari Korver’s 17 points. CU’s accuracy was even better, shooting 57.9 percent (33-of-57) from the field, including 60.8 percent in the second half.

But neither the Buffs’ marksmanship nor Reese’s individual heroics was enough. They lost their fifth consecutive game, their seventh in the past eight, and dropped to 0-4 in Pac-12 Conference play (7-8 overall).

The Buffs opened the game like the shellshocked team that committed 21 turnovers in an 81-61 loss to USC on Friday. They turned the ball over five times in Sunday’s first 10 minutes and UCLA (7-9, 3-2) made them pay in transition; the Bruins turned those easy looks into 14 fast-break points and they made eight of their first 11 shots.

UCLA opened with a full-court press and it denied CU good looks; the Buffs hit just two of their first eight shots and went more than 4 minutes without scoring. The Bruins, meanwhile, used that drought to build their lead as large as 21 points.

Slowly, though, the Buffs crept back in. A three-guard lineup that featured Lexy Kresl, Jasmine Sborov and Alina Hartmann helped grease Colorado’s ball movement, as the Buffs hit eight of their final 12 shots with six of those makes coming off of assists. They got Jen Reese open looks along the baseline; they got Kresl open above the break, where she hit four threes; and Haley Smith feasted on jumpers from the free-throw line when the Bruins focused on her teammates.

“They zoned a lot, but a lot of times I think they kind of get lost in the zone,” Smith said. “And then they would lose our shooters on the wings and stuff. I definitely think there were some great holes that we were able to take advantage of.”

Most of the Buffs’ best looks were midrange jumpers; Reese and Smith picked UCLA’s 2-3 zone apart by cutting to open spaces. Reese was all but automatic, hitting from the baseline, the elbow, the wing, from everywhere.

“It’s a lot about moving without the ball and trying to find the open gaps,” Reese said. “I feel that as a team we did that, and people with the ball were finding the open players and those players were able to knock the shots down.”

The Buffs’ first half was remarkably efficient given their poor start — they shot 50 percent and trailed by just nine points at halftime. CU carried its hot streak through the break, and the Bruins cooled off; the Buffs cut UCLA’s lead to five points less than 2 minutes into the second half.

Reese tied the game 5 minutes into the second when she cut backdoor and dropped in a layup off of a feed from Jamee Swan. Lauren Huggins gave Colorado its first lead less than a minute later. She leaked through the Bruins’ full-court pressure and buried a 3-poinnter from the right wing.

From there, the teams went back-and-forth; UCLA finally pulled ahead through persistence on the offensive glass — the Buffs won the rebounding battle by one (30-29) but still allowed 13 offensive boards.

“We probably needed two more defensive rebounds to be able to win today,” Lappe said.

The Buffs’ chances effectively ended with 16 seconds left, when Swan crashed into the Bruins’ defense on the fast break. She hit a layup and thought she had an opportunity to tie the game with a 3-point play, but Swan was whistling for charging. UCLA had the lead, the momentum and the ball.

——

 

January 9th

… CU in the Arena …

CU women blown out at home by USC

From cubuffs.com … If the Colorado women’s basketball team was counting on the rigors of the road rattling Southern California, it didn’t happen. Leaving LA for the first time in a month – or in eight games – the Trojans made themselves at home Friday night in the Coors Events Center, but with lots of unwarranted hospitality from the Buffaloes.

Getting 22 points from 21 CU turnovers, USC rolled to an 81-61 Pac-12 Conference win.

The Buffs committed 11 of their turnovers in the first half, digging themselves an early hole with a very narrow escape route. CU (7-7, 0-3) never found it, losing its fourth consecutive game and its sixth of the past seven. The Buffs trailed by as many as 19 points late in the first half and were never able to pull closer than 9 points in the second half.

Entering Friday night, the Trojans (10-5, 2-2) had lost three of their past four games, including a split with the Oregon schools in the Pac-12’s opening weekend.

“I thought we did some really good things,” CU coach Linda Lappe said, “but we didn’t start off well (and) it didn’t seem like we could ever catch up . . . but give USC credit; they came in here with a lot of confidence and played hard.”

Lappe said her team, which faces UCLA on Sunday at the CEC (2 p.m., Pac-12 Network), “just has to regroup and keep getting better, come to work every day . . . I feel like we have gotten better but if you look at one stat, it’s the turnovers.

——

 

January 7th – Salt Lake City          No. 9 Utah 74, Colorado 49

Utah, three days after taking out the purported No. 4 team in the Pac-12, UCLA, by a lopsided score of 71-39, the No. 9 Utah Utes laid the wood to the purported No. 3 team in the Pac-12, Colorado, by an equally dominant score of 74-49.

The Buffs stayed with the Utes for the first ten minutes of the game, but a 15-0 run by the Utes after Buff Xavier Johnson went down with an ankle injury ended any doubts about the final outcome. Askia Booker and Jaron Hopkins each had 12 points for the Buffs, but CU’s front court was non-existent. Xavier Johnson didn’t score before he left the game, with Josh Scott returning with a three point game (all from the line), going 0-3 from the field and three rebounds.

“Every time our offense struggles, every time, you look at that assist number and it’s in single digits”, said Tad Boyle. “Tonight, we had five assists, we don’t move the ball, we don’t share the ball, we don’t make plays for each other. You’ve got to give Utah credit, they’re a good defensive team, we played a top 10 team on the road. I told our players, they came to Colorado to get an education; we got an education tonight about what a top 10 team looks like. They’re taking charges, they’re making open threes. We go 12-for-21 at the free throw line on the road against a top 10 team, you can’t do that. We didn’t do anything good enough tonight to even be in the game, much less win the game. We have to understand that, we have to do better”.

On Xavier Johnson’s ankle injury … “He twisted his ankle pretty good, and it’s higher, it’s not in the joint it’s higher up”, said Boyle. “High ankle sprains are pretty nasty and we’ll get a better feel for that as it progresses. They’re very painful and they take a little longer than just the normal ankle sprain. We have enough guys on this team to overcome but we would certainly like to get him back as soon as possible”.

Game Notes …

–  Buffs fall to 0-4 in true road games

– Colorado now 5-11 vs. top ten teams under Tad Boyle

– The loss reduced CU’s advantage against Utah in Pac-12 play to 5-3, with all three losses coming in Salt Lake City;

– Buffs turned the ball over 18 times, tying a season-high;

– With two blocks, Josh Scott moved into a tie with Shaun Vandiver for 10th place on the CU all-time list, with 90 career blocks

Up next … The Buffs have a week to heal, with the next game coming next Thursday, January 15th. Colorado will travel to Tucson to take on No. 3 Arizona (7:00 p.m., MT, ESPN)

Game Recap …

Colorado faced an uphill climb taking on No. 9 Utah.

The Buffs have not played consistently all season, were just getting Josh Scott back, and were facing a 43-year-long losing streak against top ten teams on the road.

Tough enough of a challenge … and that was before Xavier Johnson was hurt.

Colorado stayed with Utah for the first ten minutes of the game, leading for most of it. At the ten minute mark, the Buffs held a 15-14 lead … then, Xavier Johnson hurt his ankle, needing assistance to leave the court.

The second ten minutes of the first half, it was all Utah. Over the next eight minutes, the Utes out-scored the Buffs 15-0. Colorado missed four shots from the field, missed four straight free throws, committed five fouls, and turned the ball over six times.

By the time Dominique Collier made a free throw at the 2:05 mark, it was 29-15.

Game over.

A 6-0 run by the Buffs, including CU’s first three-pointer of the game (by Xavier Talton), made it 29-21, with Utah posting a pair of free throws to take a ten-point lead at the break.

Halftime Score: No. 9 Utah 31, Colorado 21

Any chance of a Buff comeback in the second half was snuffed quickly after the break. The Buffs made a few baskets, but back-to-back-to-back three-pointers by the Utes, and a 33-25 game became a 42-27 game by the time the Buffs limped back to their bench for the first media timeout.

After the break, the game, already a guaranteed Utah win, became a blowout. A dunk and a three-point play by Ute star Delon Wright, followed by a three-pointer and a jumper from another Ute star, Brandon Taylor, and it was 54-31 with 12 agonizing minutes still left to play.

How bad was it? Out of the time out, someone named Dakarai Tucker went on a personal 5-0 run against the Buffs, pushing the lead to 59-31. Meanwhile, Askia Booker’s box score added a turnover, a missed layup and a missed jumper. Tre’Shaun Fletcher made a three-pointer, and Jaron Hopkins posted a jumper, but it was far too little, far too late, with CU still under 40 points at the under eight break, 59-36.

By the time the clock got to the five minute mark, Colorado had as many missed free throws (8-of-16) as Utah had made three-pointers (8-of-20), and it was a 29-point lead for the Utes, at 67-38. After a pair of Wesley Gordon turnovers, the Utes had another three-pointer and a 73-38 lead.

An Askia Booker layup gave him ten points, and the Buffs 40 points, but CU still trailed by 33 points with three minutes remaining. Colorado finished the game with a 9-1 run, making it … only … a 25-point defeat.

Final Score: No. 9 Utah 74, Colorado 49

 

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Buffs hoping for a “quiet storm” in Salt Lake City

From cubuffs.com … The roar of the home crowd revs up Tory Miller. But weighed against silencing a crowd on the road, well, in Miller’s estimation it’s no contest, a clear no-brainer. He’ll take that experience every time.

“I love home but I also love the road trips,” Miller said the other day after he and his Colorado teammates had wrapped up weight work and a short practice.

“(The road) is a different environment,” he continued. “It’s one thing to hear the crowd screaming for you, it’s another to make a crowd quiet. That’s always a good feeling. Everything is going crazy then you hear the silence. Yeah, I actually like that a lot more.”

Truth is, CU’s blossoming 6-9 freshman forward doesn’t have that much road experience. He and his Buffalo buds haven’t yet hit the mute button on many crowds outside the Coors Events Center.

But their time, their opportunity, is coming. Fast.

The Buffs visit No. 9 Utah Wednesday (7:05 p.m., ESPN2), providing Miller with his first Pac-12 Conference road experience. Attendance thus far in the Jon M. Huntsman Center has averaged 10,758, but the building seats 15,000 and CU coach Tad Boyle wouldn’t be surprised if 14,000 seats are filled.

If the Buffs can silence that crowd, you can consider this trip to the other side of the Rockies a resounding success.

No way around it, the Utes are rolling. Like the Buffs, they went 2-0 in their first weekend of Pac-12 play. Somewhat unlike the Buffs, they didn’t dally with their common opponents. While CU (9-5) was dispatching UCLA 62-56 and USC 86-65, Utah (12-2) was destroying both, clubbing the Bruins 71-39 and the Trojans 79-55.

Continuing reading the story here

Utes looking to stay “humble and hungry” as Buffs come to town (tonight, 7:00 p.m., MT, ESPN2)

From the Deseret News … At 12-2 overall and 2-0 in Pac-12 play, the ninth-ranked Utah Utes are obviously in a good place. They’ve won 10 straight games in the Huntsman Center and five consecutive contests overall.

“We’re happy to be where we are,” said Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak. “There’s no doubt.”

However, that’s not to say that the Utes are completely satisfied — far from it as a matter of fact as Wednesday’s home game with Colorado (7 p.m., ESPN2) approaches.

After Sunday’s 71-39 win over UCLA, Krystkowiak reminded his team of something he’s been saying — although it’s skewed the other way — ever since he took over the program in 2011-12.

“You’re never as good as you think you are in a lot of situations in life and you’re never as bad as you think you are,” said Krystkowiak, who explained that it’s important for the Utes to be consistent in their effort and avoid the ebb and flow — stay the course despite off-the-chart highs.

“We’ve still got a lot of work to do and things to improve on,” Krystkowiak said. “So we can enjoy it and it’s a humble and hungry situation. That’s an UnderArmour term that I picked up, just remain humble and hungry through the whole process and hopefully some good things will happen.”

Plenty of positives are already developing. The Utes had 11 players score against UCLA.

“It continues to show how deep our team is and that we’re going to need every single guy to step in and every guy can bring something different,” said junior forward Jordan Loveridge.

Delon Wright led the Utes with 11 points in the win over the Bruins. Loveridge contributed 10 with the rest of the squad adding nine, eight, seven, six (two guys), five, four, three and two points, respectively.

“I think it speaks volumes. Nobody’s really out here trying to dazzle the world,” Krystkowiak said of the mass contributions. “I don’t think anybody on our team cares who it is who leads us in scoring.

“We’re making extra passes and it’s a fun way to play. When you’re engaged on defense and you’re playing together on offense it’s a fun formula,” he added.

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January 6th

… CU in the Arena …

Josh Scott expected to play against Utah

Brian Howell from the Daily Camera has tweeted “Josh Scott feeling much better today. After missing two games, he’s expected to play against No. 9 Utah on Wednesday night”.

Colorado at No. 9 Utah … Wednesday, 7:00 p.m.,, MT (ESPN2) … 850 KOA radio … Sirius Radio 108; XM 197

Utes’ 2014-15 Record: 12-2, 2-0 in Pac-12 play

Coach: Larry Krystkowiak, 4th year; 54-57

Series: Colorado leads the all-time series against Utah, 25-17, though the Buffs have just an 8-12 record in games played in Salt Lake City. Since the inception of the Pac-12, Colorado holds a 5-2 edge, with both losses coming the last two times the Buffs have ventured into the Huntsman Center. Last season, the teams split, with each team defending their home court.

Utah’s record last season: 21-12; 9-9 in Pac-12 play (tied-8th). Despite a 21-win season, the Utes did not earn an invitation to the NCAA tournament (largely due to a soft non-conference schedule). Utah was bounced by St. Mary’s in the first round of the NIT … The Utes are looking for their first NCAA bid since 2009.

Players to watch … Buff fans are excited about the return of Josh Scott to the lineup, but Ute fans are equally excited about the return of forward Jordan Loveridge to their lineup. The projected star of the Utes, Loveridge missed most of the past month with injuries … but the Utes dominated their competition without him. Senior guard Delon Wright has picked up the slack, leading the team with 15.0 points per game. Wright also leads the team in assists (5.6 per game) and is second in rebounds. Wright is the brother of Dorrell Wright, who presently plays for the Portland Trail Blazers.

Utah so far in 2014-15 … When the Pac-12 preseason media poll came out, Arizona was the over-whelming favorite to win the conference. Closely bunched at 2-3-4 in the poll were Utah, Colorado and UCLA. While the Buffs and Bruins have been a disappointment so far this season, the Utes have exceeded expectations. Even without Jordan Loveridge in the lineup, Utah racked up impressive wins and only a pair of close defeats. Utah is 12-2, ranked No. 9 in the nation, with the only losses coming on the road against No. 16 San Diego State (53-49) and No. 10 Kansas (63-60). Meanwhile, the Utes have posted wins over teams like No. 8 Wichita State and UNLV (the only team to date to take down Arizona). Colorado fans were excited last weekend when the Buffs picked up their first-ever Pac-12 win over UCLA, but two days later, the Utes mauled the Bruins, 71-39, taking a 32-15 halftime lead and never looking back.

CU Notes of Note … The Utah game will be the first for Colorado this season against a ranked team … The Buffs are 0-3 in true road games so far in 2014-15 … Colorado under Tad Boyle is a more-than-respectable 5-10 against Top ten teams, but all five of those wins have come at the Coors Events Center … The last time Colorado defeated a Top Ten team on the road? Try January 15, 1973 (over Missouri) – that’s 42 years ago, folks … Easy math: When Colorado has a better shooting percentage than its opponent, the Buffs are 9-0. When the opposition shoots better, the Buffs are 0-5 … Wesley Gordon’s seven blocks against USC were the most by any Buff since Andre Roberson had seven against Oregon two seasons ago … Dustin Thomas’ 17 points were the most-ever by any of CU’s five sophomores in a season-and-a-half of action.

—–

 

January 5th

… CU in the Arena …

CU women fall to 0-2 in Pac-12 play after Cal completes Bay area sweep

From cubuffs.com … California’s inside game was too much to handle as the Golden Bears defeated Colorado 75-59 in a Pac-12 Conference game Monday evening at Haas Pavilion in Berkeley.

California scored 52 points inside the paint, mostly to the benefit of leading scorer Rashanda Gray who had 17 points and 10 rebounds.

Jamee Swan led Colorado with 21 points and five rebounds. Jen Reese pitched in 15 points on 6-of-12 shooting with eight rebounds.

The Golden Bears also took advantage of 23 Colorado turnovers, accounting for 21 points.

Cal’s Brittany Boyd had 19 points, 14 rebounds, seven steals and six assists.

California continually pounded the ball inside to the 6-foot, 3-inch Gray, and despite her low field goal numbers – she made just 4-of-12 from the field – it was effective as she continually made it to the foul line, hitting 9-of-16.

When Colorado could get stops, they struggled to score. The Buffaloes shot just 37 percent and fell victim to California’s ability to run off a defensive rebound, resulting in 20 fast break points. Boyd controlled that tempo as she was just three steals and four assists shy of a quadruple double.

“(Especially in the second half) they pounded it inside and we didn’t have an answer,” CU coach Linda Lappe said. “We didn’t have an answer down low; we didn’t have an answer for their layups in transition. We’ll regroup and get back into it.”

…. Colorado returns home for a weekend series with the Los Angeles schools. The Buffaloes will host USC on Friday, Jan 9, at 8 p.m. On Sunday CU will host UCLA on Sunday, Jan. 11, at 2 p.m. Both games will air live on the Pac-12 Networks ….

——

 

January 4th – Boulder           Colorado 86, USC 65

Colorado played without Josh Scott, but didn’t need him, leading from start to finish in an 86-65 blowout of USC. The Buffs had a season-high 22 assists for the game, double their season average. The Buffs used a 14-0 run in the first half to race out to a 43-27 lead and never looked back.

Dustin Thomas went for a career-best 17 points, going three-for-three from three-point range (having been 1-for-7 for the season coming into the game, and 7-for-40 in his career). Thomas, 11-for-17 from the line before the USC, went 4-for-4, contributing a season-high three steals as well. Askia Booker had 18 points, including a pair of three-pointers and a game-high seven assists, with Xavier Johnson contributing 17 points, on 7-of-10 shooting.

“We did what we had to do”, said Tad Boyle. “Offensively, we hit our numbers. We shot the ball well, our assist-turnover ratio was great and it’s amazing when that happens how the percentages move in your favor. Defensively I thought we softened up a bit in the second half, but we did guard the three-point line well. To hold them to 4-for-20 from three was a key because it was a concern of ours coming into the game. They have capable three-point shooters especially if they get hot, but we never let them get hot. It was a good win with some good individual efforts and certainly was a good team victory.”

The Buffs finally looked like the Buffs of 2013-14 (before the injury to Dinwiddie), but will need to keep up the intensity, with CU’s next two games coming against top ten opponents (Utah, on Wednesday; Arizona, on Thursday, January 15th), with both games on the road.

Game Notes …

– Josh Scott missed his second game in a row (back spasms) and fourth of his career (CU is 4-0 in those games). Scott is listed as “day-to-day” for the game against Utah on Wednesday (7:00 p.m., MT, ESPN2).

– Colorado moved its all-time record against USC to 8-3 overall, 6-0 as a member of the Pac-12 conference.

– The Buffs had eight steals in the first half, a season-best, and ten for the game, also a season-best.

– Season-highs in both field goals made (32) and assists (22).

– Dustin Thomas had a career-high 17 points (previous high 13 vs. Jackson State in 2013) … Made three three-pointers, also a career-high (never more than one before) … Three steals was also a career-high … Most points by any of CU’s acclaimed sophomore class in any game.

– Jaron Hopkins had a career-high four steals (previous high was three, ironically enough against USC last season).

– Freshman Tory Miller had career highs in points (six) and blocks (two).

Game Recap …

Colorado opened its second straight game without Josh Scott in the lineup with a 6-0 run against USC. A Xavier Johnson layup, followed by an Askia Booker jumper and a pair of free throws gave the Buffs a lead they would never relinquish. The Trojans went on a 6-2 run of their own, cutting the lead to 8-6, with the team jostling for much of the early part of the first half. A Xavier Johnson dunk, a Dustin Thomas jumper, a three-pointer from Tre’Shaun Fletcher and a Tory Miller layup gave CU a 15-11 advantage at the under 12 media timeout.

The teams traded baskets over the next six minutes, with the Buffs not quite able to pull away. With just under six minutes to play before halftime, it was 29-24, Colorado … and then the Buffs made their move. Jaron Hopkins made three-of-four free throw attempts on two trips to the line to start the rush, with Xavier Johnson making one-of-two free throws to quietly push the lead out to 33-24. Tory Miller then posted his second basket of the first half, followed by a pair of free throws and a jumper by Wesley Gordon, then a tip in by Xavier Talton. Just like that, a 29-24 lead was 43-24, with the Buffs going on a 14-0 run over five minutes of game clock. The Trojans scored the final three points of the first half, but the damage had been done.

Halftime score: Colorado 43, USC 27

The story of the first half for Colorado wasn’t that the Buffs had a big lead over the Trojans, but that CU had posted ten assists in the first twenty minutes. For a team averaging only 11.5 assists per game, that stat was large.

And the Buffs got hot from behind the arc to start the second half, pretty much ending the Trojans’ comeback hopes. Dustin Thomas hit a pair of three-pointers, which were offset by a pair of jumpers by the Trojans, but then the Buffs hit two more three-pointers, one from Askia Booker and one from Xavier Johnson, made it a 55-33 game with 16 minutes to play. Timeout, USC.

The teams traded baskets over the next few minutes, with the Buffs content to run clock. Dustin Thomas hit another three-pointer and a pair of free throws to give him a team-leading 15 points, holding USC at bay. A Tory Miller dunk at the 12 minute mark gave CU a 63-39 lead, ending any realistic chance of a USC comeback. Still, the Buffs went into a trance over the next few minutes, generating little offensive movement while trying to run clock. The Trojans went on a 7-0 run over the next four minutes made it a 63-46 game, making the Buff fans a little nervous. USC missed a pair of three-point attempts on their next two possessions, with an Askia Booker lob to Jaron Hopkins for a dunk making it 65-46 game at the under eight timeout.

The Trojans had one more run in them, going on a 7-2 run to again make it a 14-point game, at 67-53, but a jumper by Booker and another layup by Thomas pushed the lead back up to 18, at 71-53, with five minutes to play. From then on, the Buffs were in control, with Askia Booker scoring seven straight points for the Buffs to give him 18 points for the game. A pair of close-in baskets from Xavier Johnson gave him 17 points for the game, giving CU a 22-point lead, and allowing the Buffs to bring in subs to close out the contest. Dominique Collier made a layup, with Tre’Shaun Fletcher hitting a pair of free throws to close out CU’s scoring.

Final Score: Colorado 86, USC 65

—–

 

January 3rd

… CU in the Arena …

Getting to Know: USC Trojans

Colorado vs. USC … Sunday, noon, MT (Pac-12 Networks) … 850 KOA radio … Sirius Radio 92; XM 197

Trojans’ 2014-15 Record: 8-5, 0-1 in Pac-12 play

Coach: Andy Enfield, 2nd year, 19-26

Series: The Colorado/USC series is the opposite of that the Buffs have had with UCLA. Unlike the Buffs v. Bruins, wherein Colorado had never won in the series since joining the Pac-12 (before Friday night’s game), the Buffs have never lost to the Trojans in Pac-12 play. Colorado leads the series 7-3, including all five games since joining the Pac-12. The Buffs are 4-0 against the Trojans in games played in Boulder.

USC’s record last season: 11-21 overall; 2-16 in Pac-12 play (12th). The Buffs defeated the Trojans three times last year, including a narrow 59-56 win in the opening round of the Pac-12 tournament.

Players to watch … This is not your 2013-14 Trojans .. and that’s not a bad thing for USC fans. Four starters have been replaced, with the No. 18 recruiting Class in the nation (according to 247Sports) now set to play. The Trojans are 199th in the nation in scoring (the Buffs are not much better, at 180th), but do have three starters averaging double figures. Freshman guard Jordan McLaughlin leads the team with 12.7 points per game, and also leads in assists (4.9). The inside threat is Strahinja Gavrilovic, a 6’10” sophomore, who is second on the team in scoring (11.9), and leads the team in rebounds (8.4).

USC so far in 2014-15 … The Trojans got off to a rocky start to the 2014-15 campaign, falling at home in the opener to Portland State from the Big Sky Conference. USC then played in the Charleston Classic the Buffs won a few years back, going 1-2, with losses to Akron and Penn State, and a win over the same Drexel team the Buffs opened with (CU won 65-48; USC won 72-70). USC then went on to win six of its next seven games, with the best wins coming over New Mexico and Boston College … but the loss was to Army. USC opened Pac-12 play Friday night with a thumping by No. 10 Utah, 79-55. The Utes raced out to a 28-11 lead in the first half, and the Trojans never cut the lead under double digits the remainder of the game.

CU Notes of Note … No new updates on the status of Josh Scott, who missed the UCLA game with back spasms. In the press release following the game, CU listed Scott’s status as “undetermined”.

—–

 

January 2nd – Boulder          Colorado 62, UCLA 56

From cubuffs.com … The Colorado Buffaloes muscled and hustled their way from underneath UCLA’s thumb Friday night at the Coors Events Center – and they did it the hard way.

With starting post Josh Scott sidelined, the Buffs pulled together and pulled away for a 62-56 victory. It was CU’s first win against UCLA since joining the Pac-12 Conference and only the second win in their 10 meetings overall.

In winning their 2015 Pac-12 opener, the Buffs (8-5, 1-0) broke a two-game losing streak while the Bruins (8-6, 0-1) lost their fourth straight.

“If ever a team needed a win, the Colorado Buffaloes needed one tonight. I don’t want to think where our heads would be if we didn’t (win),” said coach Tad Boyle, who downplayed his 100th win at CU, calling it “no bigger than the 99th. I want the 101st . . . it’s all about the next game.”

… Colorado players learned about having to play without Josh Scott about thirty minutes before tipoff. “I wanted to give them some time to digest that, understand that, we were a many down, and it was time for us to all step up to the challenge,” said Boyle. “Coach McCartney came and talked to our team (see story below, under the game recap) about resolve, digging deep and playing together, and I thought our guys really responded”.

One who did was senior Askia Booker, criticized in some quarters about not being a more vocal leader this season. “Right before we came on the court, I grabbed the guys in and I told them everybody in the gym doesn’t think we can win without Josh,” Askia Booker said. “Everybody in here. But I told them we were guaranteed to win if we played hard enough and we played together, and the outcome is we won. We didn’t play too smart and I include myself in that, but we played hard and we played together.”

Game Notes – 

– Josh Scott missed the game due to back spasms. This was the third game in his career that he has missed due to injury. Ironically enough, CU is 3-0 in games played without Scott. The status of Scott for Sunday’s game against USC (noon, MT, Pac-12 Networks) remains undetermined.

– The victory was No. 100 for Tad Boyle at Colorado (55 losses);

– CU improved to 5-0 in conference openers under Tad Boyle;

– The win was the first against UCLA as a member of the Pac-12, the only team CU had yet to defeat in basketball;

– The win was only the second in the series overall (2-8), with the only other victory coming in 1962. The Buffs are now 2-2 at home against the Bruins;

– A crowd of 10,191 was on hand, with CU improving its record to 22-7 in home games with crowds of over 10,000;

– Wesley Gordon posted the third double-double of his career (11 points; 10 rebounds). Gordon also had a career-high seven blocks.

Game Recap –

Colorado played with out star center Josh Scott (out with back spasms), but nonetheless picked up win No. 100 under Tad Boyle in a 62-56 home victory over UCLA. Askia Booker went for 20 points, including 4-of-6 in three-pointers to lead the Buffs, with Xavier Johnson contributing 14 and Wesley Gordon 11. Those three posted 75% of CU’s scoring, with the bench chipping in only seven points combined.

The Buffs shot well from behind the arc (5-of-10) and at the free throw line (21-of-25, 84%), and needed all of those points to hold off the Bruins. The teams stayed close for most of the first half, with each team building six point leads only to see them evaporate. Colorado led, 28-27, at halftime, but UCLA came out hot after the break. The Bruins went on 9-2 to open the second half, opening up a 36-30 lead. The Buffs then went on a 7-0 run of their own to reclaim a 37-36 advantage with 14 minutes to play.

A pair of layups and a three-pointer gave the Bruins a 7-0 run of their own, retaking a six-point advantage, at 43-37. Then it was Colorado’s turn again, with Xavier Johnson posting a free throw, a layup and a dunk to make it a one point game again. The Buff run continued a Jaron Hopkins dunk, a Xavier Johnson layup, and a pair of free throws from Askia Booker. All told, it was an 11-0 run for the Buffs over a five minute span, giving Colorado a 48-43 with seven minutes to play.

The Bruins were not finished, however, putting together a 6-0 run to reclaim the lead for the final time, at 49-48. An Askia Booker three pointer at the five minute mark gave the Buffs the lead for good, but the lead was anything but safe. Wesley Gordon made five-of-six free throws over the next few minutes, offset only by a layup from UCLA. A Jaron Hopkins dunk made it 58-51, with the a layup on the other end to make it a 58-53 game with less than two minutes to play. A pair of Xavier Johnson free throws pushed the advantage back to seven again, at 60-53, with a minute to play, but a three-pointer from the Bruins, combined with a turnover on the inbounds pass, gave UCLA new life in the final thirty seconds. The Bruins had two shots at the basket, but missed both, with a Wesley Gordon rebound and a pair of Askia Booker free throws providing the final margin.

Final Score: Colorado 62, UCLA 56

 

—-

… CU in the Arena …

Bill McCartney talks to CU men’s basketball team

One of the main issues discussed concerning the Buffs’ 7-5 start to the 2014-15 season has been the lack of leadership. The Buffs are 1-4 in games decided by single digits this season, including losses in their last two games (George Washington and Hawai’i). Former CU head coach Bill McCartney knows something about leadership and motivation. He spoke with the CU men’s basketball team before practice on Thursday.

Full story from the Daily Camera can be read here.

A few excerpts:

“Honestly, I understand why they won a national championship,” said Josh Scott, a junior forward. “He gets you fired up. The way he speaks and what he talks about, it’s very motivational and it’s very honest and to the point.

“He was honest with us from what he saw and he also gave great tips as to how championship teams and how good teams play and look and lead. It was good.”

… “Coach Mac is as good of a motivational speaker as I’ve ever been around,” Boyle said. “He got my juices flowing and I think he got our players’ juices flowing, and we practiced well (on Thursday).”

CU is looking for anything to provide a spark as they open Pac-12 play. They’ve lost two in a row and four of six.

CU’s recent struggles have kept Boyle awake at nights. In fact, Boyle said he had a negative attitude and struggled to sleep on Wednesday night.

Knowing McCartney was coming in on Thursday morning, Boyle said he changed his attitude on the drive to work.

“I made a vow to myself when I drove to practice this morning that it’s important that I show positive signs and I’m encouraging,” Boyle said. “We’ve talked about where we’ve been enough. Now it’s time to talk about where we’re going to go.”

Is Boyle’s positive attitude a New Year’s resolution?

“We’ll see how long I can keep that one,” he said with a laugh. “I’m going to try, though.”

—–

 

January 1st

… CU in the Arena …

Getting to Know: UCLA Bruins

Colorado vs. UCLA … Friday, 8:00 p.m., MT (Fox Sports 1) … 850 KOA radio … Sirius Radio 92; XM 197

Bruins’ 2014 Record: 8-5

Coach: Steve Alford, 2nd year, 36-14

Series: UCLA leads the series, 8-1, with the Bruins holding a 2-1 edge in games played in Boulder. UCLA is the only team which Colorado has yet to beat since joining the Pac-12 (0-5), with the Buffs’ lone victory in the series coming in a game played … in 1962.

UCLA’s record last season: 28-9 overall; 12-6 in Pac-12 play (2nd) … The Bruins won their first two games in the NCAA tournament, defeating Tulsa and Stephen F. Austin. A number four seed, the Bruins then lost their Sweet Sixteen game to No. 1 seed Florida, 62-52.

Players to watch … UCLA won the Pac-12 tournament last year, taking out Arizona in the title game. The Bruins, though, lost three players to the first round of the NBA draft (Zach LaVine, Jordan Adams, and Kyle Anderson), and while the incoming freshman class is much-hyped, they have yet to completely gel as a team. Bryce Alford, the coach’s son, leads the team in scoring (17.5 ppg), and is fourth in the Pac-12 in that category. Norman Powell (15.1) is ninth in the conference is scoring, while Kevon Looney is second in Pac-12 rebounding (10.4). All five UCLA starters average 10+ points or more, and the Bruins are 43rd in the nation overall in scoring (75.6 ppg.). The Buffs will need a big game out of its front line, as the Bruins are 10th in the nation in rebounding.

UCLA so far in 2014-15 … The Bruins got off to a fast start to the 2014-15 season, rattling off four straight wins over teams which are not going to get anywhere near the NCAA tournament next March. In the first real tests of the season, UCLA lost to Oklahoma (75-65) and No. 5 North Carolina (78-56) in a Thanksgiving tournament in the Bahamas, dropping the No. 22 Bruins out of the polls. Four more wins followed – again against teams which you have to look up on an atlas – before the Bruins hit a three game losing streak. UCLA lost at home to No. 9 Gonzaga, 87-74, before being mauled by No. 1 Kentucky. The final score of the loss to the Wildcats was 83-44, but even that lopsided total does not tell the whole story. Kentucky raced out to a 24-0 lead to start the game, and had a 41-7 lead at halftime. UCLA followed up that loss with another bad loss, this time to Alabama. In the Bruins’ first true road game of the season, the Crimson Tide took a 29-17 lead at halftime en route to a 56-50 victory.

“It’s been a bad trend,” UCLA coach Steve Alford said of falling behind early. “Three out of the last four games, we have not started well, and we’re trying to figure things out. For whatever reason, our first halves have been just brutal over the last couple of weeks … We’re going to have to figure that out going into league play.”

League play starts Friday night in Boulder.

CU Notes of Note … Under Tad Boyle, CU is 4-0 in conference home openers (2-1 in Pac-12 openers, 1-0 Big 12) … Of the 10 home losses in the last five years (66-10), UCLA and Arizona are the only programs with a pair of wins in Boulder … CU is 1-4 in single-digit games this season, including the last two, both by three points each to George Washington (Dec. 23) & Hawai’i (Dec. 25) …  CU is 17-4 when a road/neutral court loss follows a home game (.810) … Josh Scott needs 13 points to reach 1,000 points, 32nd CU player.

 

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