Contact CU Independent Assistant Sports Editor Alissa Noe at email@example.com.
After going down by 13 at halftime, the University of Colorado men’s basketball team stormed back in the opening minutes of the second half on a 21-3 run to obliterate their in-state rivals, the Colorado State Rams. No matter how hard the Rams tried to fight back, the final score leveled out at 88-77 in CU’s favor.
In doing so, they proved that they own this state — in basketball, in football, in academics and in the surrounding scenery.
During the first half of that game, the CSU fans were loud and proud and obnoxious, as any good fan base would be during a rivalry game. That died quickly in the second half.
I’ll probably get flack for saying this, but CSU’s fans were head-over-heels better than CU’s fans have been all basketball season. It’s time for the black and gold fans to step up and start showing up to support this Buffaloes team. This team is 7-1 now. It’s time to start paying attention.
Still not convinced? You might want to check out the USA Today Coaches Poll. The Buffs are starting to get votes.
Four minutes into the second half, the Buffs had outscored the Rams 15-3 and regained their lead from the opening minutes of the entire contest. The fans couldn’t say they were proud to be CSU Rams anymore.
On the contrary, the theme for the rest of the game was “fight CU down the court, CU must win.” And, as the green fans were streaming out of the stadium in the final minutes of the matchup, you could have heard a pin drop in the sold-out arena that held 8,745 — that is, if the several hundred Colorado fans that attended weren’t screaming the fight song at the top of their lungs.
But rivalries and glories in Colorado aside, what does it all mean?
For one, it was a huge boost for CU fans, especially given the fact that very few have been attending home games this season. If anything, the win against the bloodthirsty rivals in enemy territory in a very, very hostile environment — where the fans were deafening in the first half — proves that this team knows how to overcome adversity in its most inhospitable form.
But really, that’s what they’ve been doing all season. They did it against Iowa State, they did it when they won at Auburn and they did it again on Sunday in Fort Collins. At this point in the season, this team has proven that they’re professional deficitionists — able to overcome deficits to close out a game. (And yes, that is a word because I said it.)
I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again. Last year, whenever Tad Boyle’s team would go down by double-digits midway through any game, it would never have had the mental tenacity to get back on its feet to not only close the scoring gap but to win on the road in a remarkable fashion.
Not only that, but the Buffaloes have proven that their depth reaches beyond their starters. In fact, Boyle has been tinkering with the lineup all year as he fluctuates between the likes of Tre’Shaun Fletcher, George King, Wes Gordon and Josh Fortune. Only Dom Collier and Josh Scott have consistently started all eight games.
Out of the six guys rotating through the starting lineup, three are averaging double digits in scoring, with Scott as the frontrunner with 18.3 points, followed by George King aka King George XXIV (15) and Fortune (12.1). The other three aren’t too far behind, as Fletcher is averaging nine points with Collier (8.4) and Gordon (7.1) right behind him.
Against CSU, the Buffs boasted five scorers in double digits: Scott (21), Fortune (16), Gordon (15), King (11) and Fletcher (10). Additionally, Scott and Gordon snagged a combined 23 rebounds during a game in which the team as a whole only finished with 42. Gordon alone has completed the last five games with 52 rebounds, proving to be a force to be reckoned with on defense.
In the long run, it shows more than anything that this team has the thick skin and depth needed to fight its way back into the national relevance that it fell out of the last few years. It has the defensive punch it needs to shut down its opponents, and it has more than enough offensive firepower to make up for those days when defense maybe isn’t as strong.
But, in the grand scheme of things, this game means very little. It’s just one game in a fairly weak non-conference schedule. Yes, it’s one of the stronger games in the 2015 half of the 2015-16 schedule, but once conference play starts, that all goes out the window.
And besides, the Big Brother should always beat the Little Brother. It’s just natural.
The Pac-12 easily has the potential to be the one of the toughest conferences in the nation. In fact, three of its teams are currently ranked in the AP Top 25 poll: No. 13 Arizona, No. 24 Oregon and No. 25 Utah.
Now that Colorado State is in the past, Colorado will turn its attention to each upcoming game, one at a time. Next up, the Buffs will host Brigham Young University, who has no doubt been a formidable opponent in years past.
As of right now, BYU is averaging four scorers in double-digits: Kyle Collinsworth (15.4 points per game), Chase Fischer (14.9 ppg), Nick Emery (14.7 ppg) and Kyle Davis (12.6 ppg), who is also averaging 10.9 rebounds per game.
But no matter what the stat line says, the Buffs shouldn’t have too much trouble defeating Brigham Young with the confidence they’ve been building over the past seven games. The game tips off at 6 p.m. at the Coors Events Center, and it will be broadcast on the Pac-12 Networks.
Bring on the Cougars.