After the first half of this game, it didn't look promising for the Buffaloes. They trailed 27-23; the entire offense was out of sync; and Kevin Dillard, the Flyers' best player, didn't play more than two minutes in the half after picking up two early fouls. However, the Buffs looked like a different team in the second half with Askia Booker hitting some big shots, and Xavier Johnson having an overall great game. Booker put up 16 points to lead the Buffs on 11 shots, shooting more efficiently than he did last game. Colorado's top freshmen combined for 27 points, with Johnson putting up 15 timely points and Josh Scott putting up 13. Overall, it was a tale of two halves for Tad Boyle's team. In the first half, the Buffs came out sloppy and looked like they were ready to be put away as the second half started. But, the Buffaloes came out firing in the second half going on a crucial 13-0 run to give themselves a 43-37 lead with around 11 minutes to play in the game and never let up.
Things the Buffaloes did well:
The entire second half was a display of good defense and for the most part, patient offense. On offense, Askia Booker hit some very big threes down the stretch. Although he doesn't take the smartest shots, he does have some serious confidence and believes he can hit all the shots, which isn't a bad trait to have when the game comes down to the wire. I don't mind Booker taking those shots too often as long he doesn't turn the ball over and he didn't today only having one turnover. Xavier Johnson had a phenomenal game hauling in some big rebounds, hitting two big threes, and playing solid man defense. The move of bringing Johnson off the bench worked once again for Tad Boyle. Josh Scott had another good game; he doesn't get the ball enough in the post, but even when he isn't getting it, he still is making the defense work non-stop down low.
On defense, Andre Roberson played a very good game, and he picked up 14 rebounds and 4 steals. It's nice to see that even when Roberson is struggling on offense, it doesn't carry over to the defensive side at all. Lastly, Sabatino Chen had another great game. He doesn't do anything noticeable on the stat sheet, but he is one of the most annoying (in a good way) defenders. He just bothers whoever he defends so much that they don't want the ball. He also had a very nice steal, drive, and layup when the Buffs offense was stagnant in the second half.
Things the Buffaloes struggled with:
The first half was a major struggle. Nothing went right for the Buffaloes. They were giving up too many second chances and playing terrible offense. Roberson struggled offensively all game; he still doesn't seem like he's a go-to-guy. It's not that he can't be good on offense, it just doesn't seem like he's a guy who you can feed in the post or give it to on the perimeter and he'll get you consistent points. He was 2-7 from the field, 2-7 from the line, and had six turnovers. Roberson wasn't the only one to struggle at the line as the entire team shot 58.3% (14-24) which isn't going to cut it against Baylor or Boston College. The Buffs struggled with free-throw shooting early on last year as well, and hopefully this problem will be corrected sooner than later.
It'll most likely be Baylor tomorrow, but the one thing that is certain is that the Buffaloes will be playing at 12:30 p.m. ET on ESPN U at TD Arena. Baylor will be a much harder opponent than Dayton, but the Buffaloes won't have as much pressure in this game. The Buffaloes can use the fact that Baylor ended Colorado's season last year, which might not have happened if Brady Heslip didn't shoot 9-12 from three, to come out with added fire and energy. It's going to be a tough test for the Buffaloes, but an upset isn't out of the question.