The atmosphere wasn't comparable to Colorado's contest with Kansas, but the Buffaloes managed to survive despite giving up too many open looks, and took down Elon 80-63 tonight at the Coors Event Center. Colorado started sluggishly on defense and came out with little energy, but they overcame that, however, thanks to a tremendous game from Xavier Johnson. Johnson finished with 12 points and 15 rebounds. Spencer Dinwiddie had another great performance and finished with 17 points, 7 assists, and 6 rebounds. It wasn't as convincing as the final score indicates, but the Buffs won their tenth straight and moved to 10-1 on the year.
Things the Buffaloes did well:
Tad Boyle took out the starters early in the game and the bench responded. Xavier Talton hit multiple jumpers and filled up the box score. He finished with 9 points on 4-of-5 shooting and had 6 rebounds, 2 assists and 2 steals. George King scored 10 points and had 4 rebounds while Dustin Thomas added 9 points. The trio provided energy and consistency off of the bench in both halves, which was crucial as some of the starters were underwhelming early.
Xavier Johnson followed up his best game of the year against Kansas with a better performance tonight. His play was key in the first half and finished the first 20 minutes with 7 points and 11 rebounds. He brought a ton of needed energy tonight on both sides of the ball and helped Colorado avoid a letdown game. His play was a major reason for Colorado's 17-3 run in the first half that helped give the Buffs a lead they would never relinquish. Josh Scott quietly put together another strong performance with 12 points and 13 rebounds. Although Askia Booker had more shots (10) than points (8), he still continued to get a ton of good looks. It'll be interesting to see if he can keep it up, but Booker has attacked the hoop much more in past games and has settled less and less for jumpers.
As a team, Colorado did what they were supposed to on the boards. They were bigger and longer than Elon and used that advantage to outrebound them 54-27. 14 of their 54 rebounds came on the offensive side of the ball. The Buffs also shot the ball well tonight from three going 5-of-13.
Things the Buffaloes struggled with:
Colorado struggled with free-throw shooting and perimeter defense once again. The Buffs were 27-of-46 from the free throw line, shooting an ugly 58 percent from the charity stripe. It's good to see Colorado attack that much and get to the line, but it doesn't mean much when they can't convert. Elon's Sebastian Koch and Tanner Samson shot a combined 13-of-23 from beyond the arc and the Phoenix shot 40 percent on the night from three. The Buffs were unwilling to guard shooters and gave up way too many open looks to a team that shoots 44 percent from distance.
Colorado has its second marquee matchup with the Big 12 as the Buffs will play No. 7 Oklahoma St. in Las Vegas on Dec. 21. Unlike Kansas and Harvard, this game will be played on a neutral site and will only be the fourth game the Buffs have played away from the Coors Event Center this season. Marcus Smart and Markel Brown lead the Cowboys and will provide arguably the toughest game thus far for Colorado.