March 10, 2012; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Colorado Buffaloes guard Carlon Brown (30) moves the ball down court against the Arizona Wildcats during the championship game of the 2012 Pac 12 Tournament in the second half at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-US PRESSWIRE
The Colorado Buffaloes are only a day away from taking on the UNLV Runnin' Rebels and they are going to have to play their best game of the year to pull out a win. Throughout the season, the Buffaloes have scored so easily by pushing the ball and getting out and running. This style of play was somewhat limited in the Pac-12 Tournament, however, when the Buffaloes got out on the fast break, they were very effective. In order to win tomorrow night's game, the Buffaloes are going to have to stay away from their favorite style.
Keys for Offense: Colorado must create their offense in the half court. Although Colorado is outstanding in transition, UNLV is better. They have more firepower and better finishers. However, UNLV is not a great half-court team. In recent years, UNLV has been a good defensive team, yet this year, they have struggled at times. Although they are only allowing 65.9 points per game, they get lazy on defense and start to gamble and make mistakes. If Colorado can be patient on offense, they will bore the UNLV defense and force them to make mistakes. A benefit for the Buffaloes is that they are improving and playing their best offense at the right time. Colorado needs to stretch the floor on offense and let Carlon Brown and Spencer Dinwiddie penetrate as well as feed Roberson and Dufault in the post. If the post game and dribble penetration doesn't work, the Buffaloes must run some screens and set up some open threes.Key Players: Carlon Brown - Since the start of the Pac-12 Tournament, Carlon Brown has been a major factor in the Buffaloes' offense. He turned those fadeaway off balance threes into a variety of post-up moves. Additionally, he used his size and body control to get into the lane and shoot high percentage shots. A variety of UNLV players will most likely guard Brown and if he has anyone of a smaller size guard him, he needs to post them up. If Brown can get a couple of easy shots to allow him to get in a rhythm, he will have another good game and be the focal point of the offense.
Austin Dufault - He has continued to surprise as the year has gone along and has been able to take advantage of many opponents this year. Dufault will need his post game to be strong once again. UNLV has a multitude of athletic big man, however, Dufault has an outside shot that can really open up the floor. Defenses have not respected it all year and he has responding by making them look foolish. Ultimately, Dufault must stretch the floor with his shot to open up some dribble penetration and make some of his tough post up shots to help Colorado create offense.
Spencer Dinwiddie - Dinwiddie has been one of the Buffaloes' best three point shooters all year long. When he is not shooting his deadly step-back three, he takes it to the rim. If Dinwiddie can mimic his performance against Arizona in the Pac-12 final, UNLV could be in trouble. The key for Dinwiddie will be to pick his spots and not force it.
Final Word: If the Buffaloes can only break out in transition off of turnovers and play a patient half-court offensive game, they will give UNLV headaches. UNLV wants to play a certain style and if they cannot, they won't be as effective. Furthermore, if the three players mentioned above step up, and Colorado doesn't get into a fast break contest, their chances of pulling off the upset are very high.