The Colorado Buffaloes didn't play their sharpest tonight, but they were able to pull out their first victory of the year in the Pac-12 against the USC Trojans, winning 66-60. Colorado struggled out of the gate, but was able to rely on their defense to push them to a 41-26 halftime lead. However, in the second half, they came out just as flat and had problems once again closing out the game. For the Buffs, Josh Scott led the way with 14 points and Sabatino Chen added 10 points, 4 steals and 3 rebounds. Overall, it was a very uninspiring effort from Colorado and atypical of their recent play at Coors Event Center.
Things the Buffaloes did well: Josh Scott keeps making a case for the most reliable scorer on this team. He started the game off with a couple of nice elbow jumpers and then went to the post and hit his usual array of shots. Scott finished with 14 points on 6-7 shooting. For the most part, Colorado's defense was good and limited USC to 41 percent shooting and also forced them to commit 23 turnovers. Ever since Sabatino Chen got benched for the Arizona game, he has seemed like a new player very confident in his ability to finish and looks much more patient when driving to the basket. Chen had his typical drives and spins off of crossovers, but as he gets closer to the rim, he's getting better at slowing up and avoiding charges. He was also the only player active and alert on defense throughout the entire game. Aside from Josh Scott and Sabatino Chen, the rest of Colorado looked very lethargic tonight.
Things the Buffaloes struggled with: There was hardly one good possession in the half court set on offense. This game should have been over much earlier than it was but it wasn't because of repetitive empty possessions offensively for Colorado. Andre Roberson responded exactly the opposite of how a coach would want his player to after being benched. Roberson was benched for being late to a team function, but looked disinterested on defense and inattentive on the boards all night. The two major issues of this team continue to be the free throw shooting and their inability to close out games. Both were very apparent tonight. The Buffaloes went a horrid 14-26 from the free throw line and turned it over down the stretch, letting the Trojans into a game they had no place being in. As far as the bench goes, Shane Harris-Tunks had another terrible effort and continues to make Tad Boyle's decision to redshirt Wesley Gordon look more and more suspect. Shooting wise, the Buffaloes couldn't get back to hitting threes at their friendly home going 4-13 on the night. Lastly, something has to be done about the way Colorado comes out to play after halftime. Their lazy play coming out of the break is starting to look like a habit rather than an outlier and it needs to be fixed immediately.
Up Next: Colorado will take on UCLA on Saturday at 12 p.m. MT at the Coors Event Center. It's clear that if Colorado plays the way they did against USC, they won't be able to win on Saturday, however, with the Coors Event Center rocking for the biggest home game of the year thus far, the Buffaloes might be able to put together their first complete performance of conference play. If they don't play their best basketball for 40 minutes, it's likely the Buffaloes will be 1-3 in conference play after four games.