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Buffs Survive Scare From Santa Barbara, Win 76-68

It certainly wasn't pretty and Santa Barbara was without their leading scorer, but Spencer Dinwiddie and Colorado did enough to pull out their fifth straight victory.

Xavier Johnson made an impact in the second half in his first game back and finished with nine points.
Xavier Johnson made an impact in the second half in his first game back and finished with nine points.
Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Spencer Dinwiddie led the way for Colorado tonight at the Coors Event Center as he finished with 24 points and propelled the Buffs to a 76-68 win over Santa Barbara. The Buffaloes allowed Santa Barbara to shoot 50 percent from the field and 40 percent on 11-of-27 from beyond the arc, but still managed to win. Xavier Johnson returned for Colorado and added 9 points while Askia Booker finished with 14 points. With the win, Tad Boyle's team moves to 5-1 on the year and remains undefeated at the Coors Event Center.

Things the Buffaloes did well:

Earlier in the season, Spencer Dinwiddie had been passive, but he showed why he is the best player on this team tonight with his aggressive play and phenomenal ability to get to the free-throw line. Dinwiddie only made four field goals, but finished with 24 points because he went 14-of-15 from the charity stripe. The 6-foot-6 guard was crucial down the stretch attacking the rim and drawing fouls. Dinwiddie had five rebounds as well and more importantly, didn't turn the ball over once. After missing two games, Xavier Johnson returned to the starting lineup for Tad Boyle and was shaky with two early turnovers. He improved vastly in the second half and was active defensively with three steals and five rebounds. Wesley Gordon had a quiet nine points and six rebounds, but five of his six rebounds came of the offensive glass and led to second chance points. As a team, the Buffs forced 17 turnovers and had 12 steals. They picked up 10 offensive rebounds and were 28-of-36 from the free throw line.

Things the Buffaloes struggled with:

Colorado continues to struggle guarding the perimeter and gave up way too many open looks from beyond the arc tonight. Taran Brown, who was 7-of-10 from three, had the only good shooting performance on Santa Barbara, but other players still had too many good looks as Colorado was late contesting and closing out. The off-ball defense was poor as well; there were many times where players lost their man and the defense was just too inconsistent. On offense, the Buffs struggled against Santa Barbara's zone because of their spacing and ball movement and turned the ball over 13 times. Colorado shot an atrocious 4-of-18 from three and it's hard to beat zones with that stat line. Throughout the game, the team had many chances to put it away, but couldn't capitalize and had to win the game in the final minutes.

Josh Scott struggled offensively and was unable to score in the first half and finished the game with three points. Jaron Hopkins made some nice floaters, but finished with 4 points on 2-of-7 shooting and had some terrible turnovers down the stretch. Askia Booker finished with 14 points on 5-of-10 shooting and was patient offensively. His defense, however, was a problem tonight as he lost his man multiple times.

Up Next:

Although Colorado won, the lackluster perimeter defense won't cut it against Harvard. The Buffs take on the Crimson on Sunday at the Coors Event Center at 2:30 p.m. This is the Buffs' first true test at the Coors Event Center this year. Harvard made the NCAA Tournament last year and will provide a good challenge for Colorado. Spencer Dinwiddie needs to have another aggressive game while Josh Scott will need to step up against Harvard's interior for Colorado to win.