After six straight road losses and a rough start to Pac-12 play, Colorado finally pulled out its first win on the road in a thrilling triple overtime nail-biter at USC, 98-94, while hitting some milestones along the way.
By the end of the first overtime, the Buffs were playing in their first double overtime game since joining the Pac-12. But they didn’t stop there. Once they started their third OT, they marked their longest game in school history since the quadruple overtime game against Oklahoma State on Feb. 5, 1983.
The most notable statistic for Thursday night’s game, however, came from senior guard Askia Booker, who blew his old scoring record of 30 points out of the water with 43. If he scores five points or more in CU’s next matchup on Saturday, Booker will become eighth on the all-time scoring list in Colorado basketball history. With this performance, his overall scoring average ballooned from 16.3 to 17.7 ppg.
Freshman forward Tory Miller also hit the record mark on Thursday night, but on a more personal level. He recorded the first double-double of his young college career with 11 points and 13 rebounds.
Not all of the milestones were necessarily a good thing, though. In what can be described as 50 straight minutes of sloppy basketball—not including the third overtime—the Buffs turned the ball over for a season-high 20 points. The Trojans weren’t too far behind them with 17.
Booker led all scorers with 43 points, but the Trojans had a few aces up their sleeve that nearly did the Buffs in multiple times. Katin Reinhardt tortured the Buffs from the three-point line by scoring 27 of his 35 points from beyond the arc. He was closely followed by Nikola Jovanovic, who had 30 points of his own.
By the end of the night, the Buffs shot 46.2 percent from the field and 36.4 percent from the three-point range. USC was right there with them at 42.5 percent and 40.9 percent, respectively.
Coming out of the gate, things looked good for the Buffaloes. Sophomore forward Dustin Thomas, the man of the early minutes, dropped nine points early on to steal the show and the lead. He helped the Buffs go up by four in the opening minutes, but that glory was short-lived.
Not long after the Buffs took the lead, USC’s main men Jovanovic and Reinhardt started a scoring tangent that eventually gave them a 10-point edge, 26-16. Not to say that streak wasn’t aided by CU’s six turnovers on nine possessions. That meant the Buffs trailed by double digits against one of the worst teams in the Pac-12 over the past few years.
But Booker just wouldn’t have it. Booker, who grew up just a few miles from USC’s campus, went on to score 10 straight points to help his team pull within three points, 29-26, with just over four and half minutes left in the half.
And although they couldn’t completely overcome the deficit before the buzzer sounded, Colorado managed to make it almost nonexistent. At the half, the score read 38-37 with the Trojans still on top.
It comes as no surprise that Booker led the Buffaloes for the half with 14 points on 4-6 shooting, but as a whole the Buffs didn’t shoot all too well. They only managed 46.4 percent from the field but made 45.5 percent of their threes.
They did shoot better than their opponent, though. The Trojans managed 44.1 percent of their field goals and just 36.4 percent of their treys. Despite those shooting percentages, Reinhardt easily stole the show with 16 points, 12 of which he made from the exact same spot behind the arc.
Once play resumed in the second half, the Buffaloes came out with a chip on their shoulders. In the opening minutes of the half, they easily overcame the Trojans and gained as much as a six point lead early on, 51-45.
The Buffs looked solid for much of the first half. They even went up by 11, 61-50, with nine minutes remaining, but they couldn’t keep that moment on their side to save their lives. Although they technically never lost the lead throughout the remainder of regulation, the play was by no means pretty.
Up until the end of regulation, USC far outscored Colorado 16-5, tying the final score before extra time at 66.
The first five minutes of extra time was no better. Up until the final 31 seconds of that overtime, nobody on Colorado’s squad could make a field goal. It was their only one of the first extra period. Their free throw shooting was the only thing that kept them in the game.
The second overtime wasn’t much better. By the end of another five minutes of ugly basketball, the two teams were tied yet again at 83. The third overtime, in contrast, was absolutely insane. The shooting was much better, and thrilling doesn’t even begin to describe the final minutes of this game.
After a Miller free throw tied the game up one last time with three minutes left, the Buffs regained the lead and almost lost it time and time again. With 14 seconds left, a pair of free throws from Booker put the Buffs up 97-94, and bad play-calling on Andy Enfield’s side gave the ball back to Miller, who sunk one last free throw to bring the final score to 98-94.
With their first road win of the season, the Buffs have renewed confidence as they head into their second game of the road trip at UCLA on Saturday, Jan. 31 at 8:30 p.m. MST. But it won’t be an easy one for the Buffs, because the Bruins upset No. 11 Utah 69-59 at Pauley Pavilion earlier Thursday night.
Contact Men’s Basketball Beat Writer Alissa Noe at email@example.com and on twitter @crazysportgirl11