The Colorado Buffaloes tried to avenge their rough road trip in Washington as they took on the USC Trojans Wednesday night. Unfortunately for them, they lost with the score of 75-64, putting the Buffs at a 15-13 record for the season and 7-9 in conference play.
Freshman forward D’Shawn Schwartz was the lone change in the lineup for the Buffs as he replaced junior forward Namon Wright. Wright was coming off a disappointing performance against Washington with six turnovers in that game.
During the first several minutes of the first half, Freshman guard McKinley Wright IV broke the CU record for most assists in a freshman season with 148, surpassing Buffs great Chauncey Billups.
The Buffs had a lead too — three through the first ten minutes. Their problem, however, was their inability to close out USC shooters on the perimeter. USC went on to shoot 50 percent from beyond the arc for the game.
Colorado regularly played a 2-3 zone for most of the night but that didn’t seem to intimidate the Trojans one bit. USC at one point was shooting 62.5 percent from three-point range and were getting easy looks inside the paint.
“Our 2-3 zone is good when we play with energy,” said Head Coach Tad Boyle. “It’s really good when our guards and forwards are flying around and we’re guarding the ball and fighting though ball-screens, and our five is active in the middle and talking. Nobody was talking tonight.”
Later in the half, the Men of Troy caught fire as they went on a quick 5-0 run and made eight straight field goals. The Buffaloes struggled to buy a basket as they went scoreless over a four-minute stretch. The score at the half was in favor of the Trojans by five.
The second half came around and the zone defense still wasn’t up to par. With roughly 15 minutes to go in the game, the Buffs were down 10 and allowing the Trojans to shoot 59 percent from the field and 64 percent from beyond the arc.
“For the most part, our energy was pretty good throughout the game,” Wright IV said. “Our rotations weren’t that good. They hit some tough shots and it gave them confidence.”
Colorado however saw a glimpse of hope in the next few minutes.
Sophomore forward Lucas Siewert led the Buffs on a 12-0 run to give them a two-point lead with 12 minutes left thanks to some key three-point shots. He went on to claim a team high 16 points on 6-of-11 shooting. The Brazilian also went on to lead the team in rebounding with eight boards.
“We got back in the game and we couldn’t close it out,” Siewert said. “That was our problem.”
USC junior forward Chimezie Metu quickly took the spotlight away from Siewert though.
The Lawndale, Calif. native got cooking in the later part of the second half as he proved to be too much of a problem for Colorado’s young bigs. He went on to snatch a game-high 21 points on 10-of-16 shooting as he and senior guard Jordan McLaughlin led USC to 15-3 run to give the Trojans the win.
“We just didn’t have an answer,” Boyle said. “Metu played really well, Jordan McLaughlin played really well down the stretch. We couldn’t get buckets and we couldn’t get stops. It’s the name of the game.”
Wright IV led the Buffs in assists for the game with six which led to his most recent milestone, yet there will be an incentive for Colorado to play hard Sunday afternoon against the UCLA Bruins on senior day.
“There’s no doubt in our mind that we can beat UCLA here at home,” Wright IV said. “We’re gonna come out and play for our seniors and it’s going to be an emotional night for those guys playing here for their last time.”
The Buffs will take on the Bruins this Sunday afternoon at 2 p.m. MST. The game will be aired on ESPNU.
Contact CU Independent Sports Staff Writer Drew Sharek at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter @drew_sharek.