The Colorado Buffaloes returned to the Coors Event Center Thursday night after snatching an important victory against the UCLA Bruins last Saturday. The Washington State Cougars were next in line, and the Buffaloes came out on top by the score of 82-73 on Thursday.
Colorado got off to a smooth start in the first half as they moved the ball efficiently and shot well from the field.
“We want to play with great effort and great pace, especially at home.” Said head coach Tad Boyle, “the whistle wasn’t blowing which meant our guys got a little more tired quicker than they normally would.”
Boyle went to his bench seeing his players tiring so quickly. Senior guard Dominique Collier was the catalyst for the Buffs when they needed him to be, subbing to provide some extra energy on the court.
“My teammates told me to come in and be aggressive,” Collier said.
Collier finished the first half with 12 points and 4-of-4 shooting from the field.
Colorado’s defense in the first half was noteworthy as well. They limited the Cougars to shoot 33 percent from the field and defeated Wazzu 2:1 in defensive rebounding. Both Junior guard Namon Wright and Senior guard George King were large proponents in that department.
Wright later remarked that King’s been playing as well as anybody in the country. Wright would end up with his first double-double as a Buffalo, claiming 16 points and 10 rebounds.
The Buffaloes convincingly led at the half by the score of 42-27. They extended the lead to 26 at the 15-minute mark in the second half, but then Washington State dramatically cut the lead from 26 to five within six and a half minutes.
“It was just a lack of defense, concentration and effort,” said freshman guard McKinley Wright IV. “We know they’re great three-point shooters. We held them to five threes in the first half and in the second half, they had 10. It’s something that we can’t let happen going forward.”
Washington State sophomore guard Carter Skaggs wasn’t the most noteworthy name on Colorado’s radar, but he was able to make a big difference in the Cougars’ run as he contributed 11 points in that six and half minute span.
“I was really disappointed with the way we defended Skaggs in the second half,” Boyle said. “We talked about all their guys. The scouting report that Coach Grier put together was right on point, there were no surprises.”
The Buffs immediately shifted gears once the game got close. Colorado went on a 12-0 run in the course of three and a half minutes to give the Buffaloes the cushion they needed to come out on top.
Four Buffaloes ended up with 13 or more points. In addition to Wright’s double-double, Wright IV led the way for Colorado with 17 points on 6-of-10 shooting while King almost ended up with a double-double of his own claiming 16 points and nine rebounds.
It’s been back-to-back games now where the Buffs could’ve been victims to blowing large leads. If the same plot happens against Washington on Saturday, it could provide a cause for concern.
“It takes mental toughness.” Boyle said. “Whether you’re on the road at Pauley Pavilion when [the Bruins] cut it to four or tonight when Washington State cut it to five. What we’ve got to figure out is how it goes from a 26-point lead to a five-point lead and we’ve got to eliminate that.”
Colorado will take on the Washington Huskies at the Coors Event Center this Saturday. Game time is scheduled at 4 p.m. and will be aired on Pac-12 Network.
Contact CU Independent sports staff writer Drew Sharek at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter @drew_sharek.