The Buffaloes once again couldn't put forth a complete 40 minutes and lost to Illinois 57-49. Colorado trailed 37-21 at halftime and looked finished. They responded, however, with a 23-2 run and managed to take a 44-39 lead, but couldn't sustain their momentum. Ultimately, it wasn't the greatest performance from Colorado, but they didn't lay down in the second half and came close to pulling off a monumental victory. Askia Booker led the way for Colorado with 14 points and was the only player in double figures.
Things the Buffaloes did well:
Colorado was agressive on defense to start the first half and had a hold on the game until the bench came in. Besides that, there wasn't much the Buffaloes did well in the first twenty minutes.
The second half was where Colorado stood out. They came out driving to the hoop and getting to the free throw line. The Buffaloes brought some tremendous defensive pressure forcing Illinois to miss shots and turn the ball over. For the game, Colorado held Illinois to 25 percent shooting from three, and forced them to commit 12 turnovers. Part of the Buffaloes' resurgence was because of Askia Booker who had three consecutive threes in a stretch of four minutes.
Andre Roberson, in what might have been his final game in a Colorado uniform, caused trouble for Illinois' Brandon Paul all game. Roberson fought and chased through each screen and managed to still make his mark offensively with 9 points and 8 rebounds. Paul couldn't overcome Roberson's length and ability to stay with him on the perimeter. Although Paul had 17 points, little of that came when Roberson was guarding him.
Josh Scott had his best game of the year rebounding wise as he finished with 6 offensive rebounds and 14 total. Scott was effective defensively and finished with three blocks and added eight points.
Things the Buffaloes struggled with:
The bench was awful. Sabatino Chen had three turnovers and was lost defensively whenever he was in. He also played point guard at times and that was a disaster. When the bench came in during the first and second halves, everything unravelled. They just couldn't keep up with anyone on Illinois and let them have too many open looks. Part of this problem was because of Tad Boyle. It was clear that the starters couldn't play 40 minutes, but the leash given to the bench was too long and was arguably the reason the Buffaloes lost.
As a team, Colorado was passive offensively in the latter parts of both halves. Instead of attacking the hoop, the Buffs settled and shot a poor 5-of-19 from behind the arc. They also were careless with the ball evident by their 15 turnovers.
In the biggest game of the year, Spencer Dinwiddie failed to do much. He only took three shots in the first half, and just did not attack the defense enough in the game. Credit to Illinois as they did a good job stopping the point guard, but it still seemed like down the stretch Dinwiddie could have done more. His four fouls were certainly a factor, yet Dinwiddie is the guy the Buffaloes look for in the final minutes of games and he just wasn't there. He finished with 6 points on 1-of-8 shooting and went 0-for-5 from three.
Moreover, the biggest flaw of this team this year was the lack of depth and it was evident today. There just isn't really anyone who can provide consistent scoring out of the starting five and that hurt Colorado throughout the game.
The Buffaloes will likely return four starters next year and will also be bringing in three talented recruits. Additionally, Wesley Gordon and Chris Jenkins, who redshirted this year, will play their first games in a Colorado uniform. Looking back at the season, it's hard to complain.
The Buffaloes lost three starters from last year's team, yet managed to have a better season than last as they made the NCAA Tournament once again. Next year should bring a better team as Spencer Dinwiddie will be without question the team's best player and have another offseason under his belt while Xavier Johnson and Josh Scott will both be playing with a year of experience.