Coming into this game with a 4-3 record, the Buffs needed to capitalize on their home court against a team like Fresno State. In the past, winning by a small margin to a program like the Bulldogs would have been huge for Colorado, but these days, the players, coach and fans have higher expectations.
“There was a time in Colorado basketball history where we beat Fresno State by seven at home and you walk in the locker room and guys are chest-bumping and high-fiving in the locker room,” head coach Tad Boyle said. “We didn’t have any of that in our locker room tonight which shows to me that the expectations level … is a little higher than that.”
CU’s man-to-man defense worked to perfection early. Everything seemed to be going well for the Buffs, but turnovers and fouls kept this game from getting out of the Bulldogs’ reach.
The Buffs then settled down offensively and with the leadership of sophomore Andre Roberson’s 13 first-half points (21 in total), Colorado went into the halftime break with a comfortable 38-23 lead. Despite the lead, coach Boyle wasn’t exactly pleased with his team.
“I was really disappointed in the last minute of the first half,” Boyle said. “The first thing we talked about at halftime was don’t play the scoreboard, play the possession. Each one with a sense of urgency, with some passion, some desire, and we did anything but that in the second half.”
Coming out in the second half, the Buffs were slow on offense, letting Fresno State creep back into the contest. With 6:18 left on the clock, the Bulldogs had brought it back to a one possession game, the score at 55-52. This run was mostly due to Fresno State’s sophomore guard Kevin Olekaibe who ended the game with 26 points.
“He’s a very good player,” freshman Spencer Dinwiddie said. “He shoots well, he makes his free-throws. I guess I’ve got to be nice since he put up 26 on us.” CQ!
Even being matched up against a talent like Olekaibe, the young Dinwiddie gave a great effort of his own, scoring 15 points. His biggest field goal being a huge three-pointer that put the Buffs up 64-57 with two minutes left in regulation.
“It’s all about taking good shots, taking what the defense gives you,” Boyle said.
The Buffs ultimately moved on to victory with Dinwiddie and senior Austin Dufault capitalizing at the line in the final minutes.
The Buffs won Wednesday night, but coach Boyle said there still are many issues they must face as a team to be successful in the future. One of the most important is the amount of turnovers they commit. Protecting the ball and getting to the rim with every possession will be a main focal point of Boyle’s training sessions in the weeks to come.
“Seventeen turnovers is way too many,” Boyle said. “If we can that number down to 10 or 11, consistently play with intensity on both ends of the floor, and continue this kind of free throw shooting, we will be very successful. At practice, we have groups of teams and if a member of your team commits more than one turnover, the team has to run a lot. It puts it in the players minds to keep care of the ball in practice, the way you practice is the way you play.”
The Buffs next game is against Wyoming at 7 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 9 at the Coors Events Center.
Contact CU Independent Staff Writer Joseph Wirth at Joseph.email@example.com.