College rivalries, in today’s age, are what makes the world of college basketball go round. Despite a thrilling finish and a home court advantage, on Wednesday night, the Buffs couldn’t pull out a win against their in-state Colorado State foes.
After shooting only 35 percent in the second half and a less-than-stellar effort on defense, Colorado fell to the Rams 62-60 in their closest loss of the season after giving up a chance with time running out to send the game into overtime.
“I’ll start by saying obviously that was a very disappointing loss for the Colorado Buffaloes tonight,” head coach Tad Boyle said. “I take ownership as a head coach that we didn’t finish that game out, we didn’t make enough plays down the stretch. We’ve got a lot of things to work on, obviously, as a ball team.”
For the night, the Buffs shot 21-52 from the field (40.4 percent) and 5-9 from the three-point range (55.6 percent), whereas the Rams shot 21-46 from the field (45.7 percent) and 6-20 from beyond the arc. The shots just weren’t falling for the Buffs.
“We always talk about playing hard, playing smart, playing together,” Boyle said. “Tonight we got the playing hard part. We didn’t get the playing smart, we didn’t get the playing together part. Until we get all three of those, it’s tough to beat good teams.”
Two Buffs led the way on the offensive side of things. Junior forward Xavier Johnson kept things alive with 20 points and five rebounds, which senior guard Askia Booker complemented with 18 points and three rebounds of his own.
“Every loss hurts,” Booker said after the game. “This was our main rival, and we just lost in our own house. They have the bragging rights for this state, them and Wyoming. They both beat us this year.”
Going into Wednesday night’s match up, Colorado knew the competition wouldn’t be easy. At first, after going up 14-6 six minutes into the contest, it seemed to be smooth sailing for the Buffs. It didn’t last long.
Over the next three minutes, the Rams went on an 8-0 run to regain the lead, and set the pace for the rest of the half. Throughout the first 20 minutes of play, the score tied three times and the teams changed leads just as many.
The rest of the half remained tight, and it looked as though the two teams would be tied by the time the buzzer sounded after Colorado State’s John Gillon sunk three free throws to tie it at 30 with 4.8 seconds left. But, much to the Rams’ surprise, Xavier Johnson drove to the lane for a last-second layup to give Colorado the 32-30 edge before the half.
During the first half, the Buffs outplayed the Rams statistically in many areas. Colorado shot 11-24 from the field (45.8 percent) and a remarkable 4-4 from the three-point range, while grabbing a total of 17 boards. Colorado wasn’t nearly as efficient behind the arc, only going 4-11 (36.4 percent) and 10-22 from the field (45.5 percent). They only managed 10 rebounds.
The second half was just as tight. Up until the final buzzer, the Buffs kept the Rams on their toes but couldn’t shake the second half lead the Rams gained early into it. With three and half minutes left, CSU gained its largest lead when it went up 57-49.
From there, it was an uphill battle for the Buffs, but one they almost overcame. Colorado had the chance to tie up the game with time running out when Johnson missed his second free throw with the score at 62-60, but the Buffs just couldn’t get the rebound.
“I think every team, at least that I’ve been on since I’ve been here at CU, has had their own issues,” Josh Scott, who only scored two points off of 0-7 shooting, said. “I remember my freshman year we got blown out by Kansas. We lost to Wyoming pretty handily. It’s part of the process, and I feel like this team has its own process to go through.”
In the end, the Rams served the Buffs their third loss of the season and first home loss in a long time.
“Close games in college basketball are won by teams that have the gumption to finish it out and be smart and make plays down the stretch, and they did and we didn’t.” Boyle said.
The Buffs return to their home floor on Saturday, Dec 13 at 4:00 p.m. as they take on Northern Colorado. The game will be broadcast on the Pac-12 Network.
Contact CU Independent Staff Writer Alissa Noe at firstname.lastname@example.org.