While University of Colorado football has achieved something nobody outside their locker room thought they could, Colorado basketball achieved something that they and others thought they couldn’t do either — by losing to Colorado State 72-58 on Wednesday night.
“[CSU is] absolutely a team we should have beaten, but it didn’t happen,” said Tad Boyle, CU head coach. “And that’s what our players have to understand — that nobody’s going to give you anything in Division I basketball. You have to earn everything you get. We didn’t earn anything tonight; in fact, we earned what we got.”
The Buffs didn’t just lose, though. They were miserable in their ability to shoot tonight, going roughly 32 percent from the field and a measly 15.8 percent from beyond the arc in the loss at Coors Events Center.
Not to mention the Buffs also shot 54 percent from the charity stripe, adding up to an all-around lackluster shooting performance against their crosstown rivals. Colorado converted just 17 of 31 shots from the free-throw line.
For the first time this season, the Keg was filled up with fans from both sides, and even John Elway was in attendance to watch the latest basketball edition of the Rocky Mountain Showdown.
Both teams started out closely matched throughout the first half, despite Colorado shooting better than Colorado State from the field. The Rams made just 9 of 30 shots in the first 20 minutes.
But what helped the Rams keep the lead going into the half was Colorado’s free-throw performance — they went 3-9 from the line while CSU went perfect on nine attempts. The Buffs would go into the locker room at halftime down 30-27.
Not only did their shooting from 15 feet get worse, so did their touch from everywhere in general. The second half was simply one to forget for Boyle’s squad.
The Buffaloes start to the half wasn’t pretty. They let the Rams conduct a 10-3 run to put the Buffs under some pressure. A few moments later, and the Buffs were only down by two thanks to a small 5-0 run later to lessen the gap.
But Colorado’s shooting unraveled to an even further extent. The team couldn’t hit anything from downtown, shooting a horrid 8 percent from beyond the arc. The Buffs were forced to drive to the basket.
But the Buffaloes still couldn’t make their free throws, and Colorado State was still thriving from the line. The Rams would finish with 78 percent on free tosses. They were perfect at 18 of 18 before missing their first free throw.
“[That] was a big factor tonight,” Boyle said. “It started in the first half and it bled over to the second half. That could have gotten us back into the game, maybe tied the score or got us the lead. They were much better at the free throw line than we were. And we’re a good three-point shooting team, but we weren’t tonight when it counted.”
The Buffs before this game were sustaining a 38.9 percent three-point shooting average. After this game’s measly 15.8 percent, that laudable stat will drop.
“It’s just one of those nights I guess,” senior guard Derrick White said. White shot 33 percent (5-15) from the field and led the Buffs with 17 points. Senior guard-forward Xavier Johnson was pretty quiet, managing just six points and seven rebounds.
Senior forward Wesley Gordon contributed 11 points and nine boards, but missed a number of easy finishes in the paint. He shot 4-of-10 from the field.
Next up, the Buffaloes will take on the Portland Pilots at 8:00 p.m. MST on Saturday in what could be an interesting contest against a WCC opponent with a talented point guard.
“I know that Portland has one of the best point guards on the West Coast that no one’s heard about. He’s a very good player,” Boyle said. “We’ve got to regroup, and we can’t feel sorry for ourselves because nobody else is going to feel sorry for us. We’ve just got to bounce back because we’re tested right now.”
Contact CU Independent Sports Staff Writer Drew Sharek at firstname.lastname@example.org.