Colorado led 23-20 at halftime and needed a combined 46 points from Xavier Johnson and Askia Booker to propel themselves to a 68-63 win at the Coors Event Center Wednesday night against Washington St. The game looked over in the second half when Colorado was up by as much as 19, but the Cougars' DaVonte Lacy wouldn't let Washington St. go away as he had 34 points and made eight threes. Nonetheless, Colorado did get their second consecutive win. They are now 6-4 in conference and 17-6 overall.
Things the Buffaloes did well:
The Buffs put together one of their best defensive efforts of the season on Wednesday. They were active in passing lanes, chased through screens and made the Cougars work for every shot they got. Washington St. did shoot 48 percent from three and 42 percent for the field, but most of them were prayers that opposing defenses would live with. Colorado forced 17 turnovers and picked up eight steals and the strong defense was the one of the main reasons the Buffaloes were able to gain such a large lead in the second half.
Askia Booker had another efficient performance and scored 26 points on 9-of-12 shooting to go along with five assists, four rebounds and three steals. With Josh Scott facing doubles and triples for most of the game, another player had to step up. That player was Xavier Johnson. He had 20 points on 7-of-14 shooting and also collected nine rebounds. He was active for each of the 33 minutes he played and finished inside and out. While Wesley Gordon went 2-of-8 from the field, his presence on defense helped out the Buffaloes. Gordon had 10 rebounds and and four blocks in addition to his eight points. Off of the bench, Jaron Hopkins and Dustin Thomas both played effectively. They only combined for eight points, but their defense was critical as they totalled three steals.
Things the Buffaloes struggled with:
The final minutes of the game were executed poorly. The Buffs missed multiple free-throws and were 18-of-27 from the charity stripe. Although Washington St. did make some difficult shots, the game didn't need to be that close towards the end. The Buffs had a chance to put this game away with about eight minutes left and just never were able to. The team got lazy and took some ill-advised threes. They also threw some sloppy passes that were part of the reason that the Buffs committed 12 turnovers.
The Buffs play this Sunday at 6 p.m. at the Coors Event Center against Washington. The Huskies will provide a tougher test for Colorado than the Cougars, but the Buffs need to win this game. If Colorado wants to make the NCAA Tournament, they cannot drop winnable games at home and that's what Sunday's game will be.