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Buffs Basketball: Previewing the Montana State Bobcats


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CU logo

Colorado Buffaloes

Montana State Bobcats

(1 - 0, 0 - 0) NR

(0 - 1, 0 - 0) NR


No, we are not flashing back to 2006. Rest assured Buffs fans, we aren't going back there. Montana State scares us all, don't worry. No football talk. It's basketball time. The Buffs take on Montana State tomorrow night at the Coors Event center in their second game of the young season. Montana State is in the Big Sky conference and is currently 0 - 1 on the year losing to a pretty strong team in Nevada. Before diving into the Bobcats, let's look at Colorado's first victorious contest of the season.

The Buffs are coming off a relatively strong performance against Arkansas-Pine Bluff last Friday. CU jumped out to a 20 point lead at halftime that stemmed from a strong defensive effort toward the end of the first half and sharp shooting. The Buffs never looked back after they gained a big lead and ended up winning the game 76 - 56. Bzdelik's team seemed to play rather well together from all the accounts I have read, especially when you take into account that most of the team is underclassmen. Colorado shot 52% from the field, 43% from the three point line and held their opponent to 23.5% from the beyond the arc. Two things the Buffs will have to work on is rebounding and free throw shooting. Rebounding may be an issue all year as the Buffs are not huge inside. Colorado was edged on the glass 29 - 36 as Lebraon Weathers seemed like the dominant force mustering 10 rebounds and 22 points for the Golden Lions.

CU freshman F Austin Dufault, sophomore F Cory Higgins, freshman G Nate Tomlinson and sophomore G Casey Crawford all were in double digits and provide the early spark in the game. Nate Tomlinson showed why many are very high on him. He saw the floor well and was accurate from downtown, going 4 for 5. Freshman Toby Veal did not see any meaningful playing time as Bzdelik said he just isn't ready yet. He is a big body guy at 6'8" and was seen as the most college ready of all the new faces. I still expect him to be a big player this year for the Buffs, especially on the boards, something Colorado desperately needs. Another stat that jumps out is the Buffs had double the assists the Lions did. Jeff Bzdelik's offense needs good passing and strong guard play. Assists are a good sign that the players are becoming familiar with his style. The Golden Lions are not going to confuse anyone as being a strong opponent but the Buffs are trying to build a program themselves and many onlookers at the Event Center saw things to get excited about.

Now, on to Montana State.  Last year, MSU was 15 - 15, 7 - 9 in conference. This has been a .500 team for the past couple of years and that is where most peg them at this year, if not worse. They lost their best player and three other starters due to graduation off last years team that finished 6th in the Big Sky. This year is supposed to be a struggle with new faces and a lack of strong guard play. Against Nevada, though, the Bobcats got down early to a strong basketball program in the Wolfpack but fought back to close the gap to 57 - 60 with under five minutes to play. They ended up losing the game by nine but if your a Montana State fan, you have to like the effort especially from a lot of new faces. MSU has five transfers/JUCOs on its roster. Recently, Montana State has been known as a better defensive team than an offensive team and that showed against Nevada. The Cats held Nevada to less than 35% shooting and 22% from behind the arc. Unfortunately for the Bobcats, they only shot 32% when they had the ball. The MSU guards had eight turnovers which is there true weakness. The Buffs would be well advised to put a lot of pressure early on these ball handlers and try to get them rattled. Make them start the offense well off the perimeter and take the flow out of their offense.

The Bobcat player to watch for is center Divaldo Mbunga who had 16 points and 11 rebounds. With the Buffs weakness being inside the paint, centers like Mbunga will look to have big games.  MSU also got a strong performance against Nevada from G Will Bynum and F Bobby Howard, who had 19 points and 9 rebounds.

Hopefully the Buffs can make it 2 - 0 and get some revenge for the football team against the Bobcats.

Here is our initial Buffs preview in case you are still a little fuzzy about the Buffs. If you are craving more MSU Bobcat information, here is one preview from yahoo rivals.