Askia Booker nailed a three as time expired and the Coors Event Center rushed the court as the Buffaloes took down the Jayhawks 75-72. Despite playing without Wesley Gordon and shooting 22-of-37 from the free throw line, Colorado managed to pull off the upset today. Xavier Johnson and Josh Scott each had 14 points while Spencer Dinwiddie and Askia Booker each finished with 15. The Buffs are now 9-1 and Tad Boyle finally took down his alma mater.
Things the Buffaloes did well:
Unexpectedly, Colorado went to a zone defense around the middle of the first half and completely threw Kansas out of sync. The Buffs were in zone for the rest of the game and the Jayhawks couldn't exploit it as they finished 5-of-20 from three. Colorado struggled from beyond the arc as well only shooting 7-of-22, but they countered that by attacking the rim as much as possible. As a result, they drew 26 fouls and shot 37 free throws. The Buffs were incredibly careful with the ball. They finished the game with eight turnovers and turned the ball over just three times in the second half. Additionally, they didn't let Kansas' size affect them whatsoever and picked up 15 offensive rebounds compared to the Jayhawks' 8.
Xavier Johnson had his best game of the year. He had a season-high 14 points and added 6 rebounds and 3 steals. He didn't commit one foul in 33 minutes and turned the ball over once. Jaron Hopkins, who was inserted into the starting lineup for Wesley Gordon, didn't do much scoring, but was crucial defensively with his length when Colorado played zone. Josh Scott was patient throughout the game. Kansas brought double teams his way, but he recognized them every time and found the open man. He went 6-of-9 from the field and had 14 points and 6 rebounds.
Off of the bench, Xavier Talton, Tre'Shaun Fletcher and Ben Mills all stepped up. Talton was able to fill in when Spencer Dinwiddie got into foul trouble in the first half. Fletcher attacked the rim and hit from outside. He also stole an Andrew Wiggins pass and finished on the fast break with a dunk that sent the Coors Event Center into a frenzy.
Nothing, however, made the Coors Event Center crazier than when Ben Mills entered the game. He finished with four points and three rebounds and after he made his second basket, the CEC was the loudest I've ever heard it. He played a career high 10 minutes today and his insertion into the game allowed the crowd to become a factor.
Last but not least was the play of Spencer Dinwiddie and Askia Booker. Dinwiddie attacked the hoop and pushed the ball in transition. He was important down the stretch, despite missing free throws that could've sealed the game, and was unselfish for 40 minutes and finished with 15 points and 7 assists. Askia Booker had some clutch threes, but nothing was more crucial than his game-winner. He obviously won't be happy about going 2-of-6 from the free throw line, but the game-winner certainly makes up for it.
Things the Buffaloes struggled with:
The only issue for Colorado was free throws. When a team misses 15 free throws and goes 22-of-37 from the line, they usually don't come out with a victory.
Colorado plays Elon on Dec. 13 at the Coors Event Center at 6:30 p.m. It's possible that the Buffaloes could have a letdown game since they're playing a team that is nowhere near Kansas' level, but as long as Colorado continues the way they've played as of late, they'll be fine.