Colorado held Arizona St. to its lowest point total of the season and rode their defense to a 61-52 victory Wednesday night at the Coors Event Center. Josh Scott was instrumental with 13 points and 13 rebounds and played excellent defense holding Jordan Bachynski to four points in 29 minutes. The win was Colorado's first over a team in the top half of the Pac-12 without Spencer Dinwiddie. The Buffs now move to 20-7 overall and 9-5 in the Pac-12.
Things the Buffaloes did well:
The defense set the tone for the game right away. Arizona St. committed turnovers early and pressure and intensity was brought all game from Colorado. In the second half, the Buffs held the Sun Devils to 10 points in the first 13 minutes, which allowed Colorado to pull away. They limited the Sun Devils, who shoot 46 percent from the field for the season, to 31 percent Wednesday night and 7-of-25 from three. Granted, Arizona St. did get some open looks, but for the most part the perimeter defense from Colorado was very effective.
The Buffs also won the rebounding battle by a margin of 21 and gained multiple second chances by picking up 15 offensive rebounds in the game. A third of those offensive rebounds came from Josh Scott who dominated on both sides of the ball. He hit jumpers on offense, but his presence was most important on defense. He continually bothered Bachynski by fronting him and Arizona St. was unable to enter the post most of the game.
Despite going 3-of-13 from the field, Xavier Johnson stepped up in the second half and scored nine of his 11 total in the final 20 minutes and added four major offensive rebounds. Dustin Thomas arguably played his best game of the season as he scored eight points and picked up six rebounds. His defense was crucial as he was in correct help position throughout the game and helped deny entry passes into the post.
Askia Booker struggled to find his shot in the first half, but responded with 16 of his 18 total points in the second half. He needed 17 shots to get there, but he was the go-to-guy down the stretch and had 10 of Colorado's final 19 points. He also finished with six rebounds, three assists and two steals.
Things the Buffaloes struggled with:
The second half started off very slowly as Arizona St. came out with six straight points and Colorado turned the ball over three times. The defense had one poor stretch when they couldn't cover Jonathan Gilling and he hit three straight threes on three possessions. As a team, Colorado turned the ball over 14 times and went 1-of-9 from three.
Colorado will play their final home game of the season on Saturday against Arizona. The Buffs picked up a major win to improve their tournament chances by beating Arizona St., but they could come very close to cementing their place in the field of 68 if they take down the Wildcats. Arizona had their way with Colorado earlier this year, but the Buffs are a completely different team now that they have adjusted to playing without Dinwiddie.