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Coming off of a big win against Arizona earlier in the week, the University of Colorado men’s basketball team improved their NCAA Tournament resume and won big over Arizona State for their seniors during their final home stand at the Coors Events Center, 79-69.
“It was a team win, it was a workmanlike win, it wasn’t a real pretty win, but I think Arizona State had a lot to do with that,” head coach Tad Boyle said.
Before and after the game, the Buffaloes honored their four great seniors, from forward Josh Scott to guards Xavier Talton, Brett Brady and Eli Stalzer.
“I don’t think there’s one word that would describe it. Kind of a culmination of four years here — a lot of memories, a lot of struggles, a lot of blood, all put into one moment it kind of felt like,” Scott said of his last game at home. “It kind of hit me a little bit when I got my name announced for the last time.”
“Josh is not only is he special to me, and to our staff, and to his teammates, he’s just special to the state of Colorado,” Boyle said of his star senior. “The kid’s a stud. I keep looking for other adjectives to describe him. He’s not perfect, but he’s the kind of guy you want your son to grow up to be, and he’s a hell of a player to boot.”
The Buffs finished their home season with a 16-1 record, with their only slip coming on a late two-point loss to Utah at the beginning of conference play.
The Buffs improved to 21-9, which tied a school record for most wins in the regular season, making this year’s squad one of just three CU teams to do so.
“I think for the most part, other than that Utah game, just how consistent our team has been playing in this building; we always haven’t played well, but we’ve usually played with pretty good energy and effort. We’ve been a consistently good home team,” Boyle said.
The Buffs shot well from the floor, going 25-for-48 from the field (52.1 percent) and an even-better 11-of-21 from long range (52.4 percent).
Three Buffs led the way to victory: junior guard Josh Fortune led the Buffs with 17 points, Scott scored 15, and junior guard/forward Tre’Shaun Fletcher put up 13. Junior forward Wesley Gordon also fueled the effort with 11 rebounds. Fletcher didn’t miss a basket all night.
The Sun Devils shot 24-of-50 from the field (48 percent), but didn’t fare so well from three-point range, as they only shot 43.8 percent (7-of-16).
Four Sun Devils hit the double-digit mark, led by Tra Holder, who scored 16, and Gerry Blakes who contributed 15. Eric Jacobsen dropped 14 and Obinna Oleka scored 10 in the losing effort.
The Buffs got up to an incredibly quick start, getting on the board less than 30 seconds in before the Sun Devils were able to respond. But the early minutes were filled with tumultuous back and forth play, resulting in four lead changes and two ties before ASU started to let things slip out of its grasp.
By the 10 minute mark, the Buffs had already built a 14-point lead, 26-12. But ASU wasn’t done fighting its way out of the underworld quite yet. Thanks to a 20-5 run by the Sun Devils and a long scoring drought from the Buffaloes, ASU was able to regain the lead late in the first half, 32-31, before the Buffaloes finally overcame their dry spell.
By halftime, the Buffs held a 38-35 edge over their opponents.
Just five and a half minutes into the second half, the Sun Devils tied the game up again at 45, but couldn’t keep up the momentum down the stretch as the Buffaloes finally bested them, 79-69.
The Buffaloes head to No. 22 Utah for their final stand of the regular season on Saturday, March 5 at 7:30 p.m. The game will be broadcast on ESPNU.
“We’ve got a lot of basketball to be played, and this is the fun part of the season as you come down the stretch: one more regular season game, conference tournament, postseason play,” Boyle said.