Contact CU Independent Men’s Basketball Beat Writer Alissa Noe at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow her on twitter @crazysportgirl1.
Going into Wednesday night’s game in the Las Vegas Classic against No. 18 Southern Methodist University, the University of Colorado men’s basketball team desperately needed a win if they wanted any chance of breaking the top 25 rankings. But after a plethora of opportunities and an inability to produce in the paint, their 11-game win streak came to an end, as they fell 70-66.
The biggest headline, perhaps, was Colorado’s abysmal shooting from the charity stripe and near the basket. They made only 8-of-17 free throw attempts and scored 18 points in the paint compared to the Mustangs’ 44. Bottom line: had they made their free throws, Colorado would have won this game.
On the brighter side, senior forward Josh Scott earned his 29th career double-double, and his sixth this year, as he scored 12 points and snagged as many boards.
The Buffs shot a horrendous 39.7 percent from the field (23-of-58), although they did make 44.4 percent of their three-point attempts (12-of-27). They committed 16 turnovers.
Two other Buffaloes led the way in scoring, with junior guard Josh Fortune adding 15 points, mostly from deep, and sophomore guard Dom Collier contributing 12.
SMU, on the other hand, held it together much better on offense. They shot 48.3 percent from the field (29-of-60) but made no treys. They did, however, outshine the Buffaloes from the line at 12-of-14 (85.7 percent).
The Buffs got off to a quick start against the Mustangs, as they got the early lead and never lost it for much of the first half. Six minutes in, SMU caught up to Colorado and tied the game at 10. With 12 minutes left in the half, the Buffs gained their largest lead of the half, 19-12, but from there the game got away from them.
The Mustangs erupted on an 8-0 run over three minutes to gain their first lead of the game, 20-19. From there, both teams kept it interesting with three ties and three lead changes. SMU, however, turned the tides from the beginning of the half as it took advantage of a Colorado dry spell to amass a seven-point lead, 35-28, with 49 seconds left in the first.
By halftime, the score read 35-30 in SMU’s favor.
At the beginning of the game, the Buffs shot the lights out in Las Vegas, as they sunk 60 percent of their field goals and made their first five treys. After tha, things got ugly. The black and golden boys shot 35.7 percent (10-28) from the field and 6-12 from downtown throughout the first 20 minutes. They committed nine turnovers and allowed the Mustangs to outscore them 24-6 in the paint.
The Mustangs shot 46.9 percent from the field (15-32) but made zero of their three three-point attempts. The moral of the story for Colorado: Get the ball to the paint more. Colorado’s three-point hot streak was bound to run out of steam eventually.
Not much changed throughout the start of the second half, as SMU led while Colorado kept pace but couldn’t break through. After going down 46-40 with 14 minutes left, something sparked in the Buffaloes as they ignited a 14-0 run to regain the lead.
But alas, it would not last. A 10-0 run by their foes put the Mustangs up 64-58, and it was a deficit that Colorado ultimately couldn’t overcome. They fell 70-66 in Sin City after an array of chances to win the game
The Buffs return to the action next year, as they head to California to open Pac-12 Conference play on Friday, Jan. 1 to take on the California Bears at 9 p.m. The game will be broadcast on the Pac-12 Networks.