Colorado concluded regular season play with another decent performance on the road. While they managed to pick up a win at Washington, the Buffaloes were not able to complete the road sweep, as they fell to WSU down the stretch. That being said, this week left the fans with more sweet than bitter taste, as it looks CU has at least some shot to make a solid performance in the Pac-12 Tournament. But before we take to the road for Vegas, let's take a look back at the last week in regular season play for the Buffaloes.
The Washington Recap: Neither the Huskies nor the Buffaloes started hot, as the Buffaloes only led 10-6 nearly ten minutes into the game. However Colorado slowly shook out the cobwebs thanks to an impressive first half performance by Josh Scott. In the first 20 minutes of the game, Scott singlehandedly took over and dropped 14 points, which allowed CU to go into halftime with a 30-17 lead. To start the second period, the Buffs allowed the Huskies to climb back into the game by not covering a hot Andrew Andrews from deep. However unlike games earlier this season, Colorado kept their composure and held onto the lead. After Washington dropped into a zone, the Buffaloes adapted uncharacteristically well. The point guards drove the lane and dished to the shooters. The wings drove the baseline hard and found cutters to the middle for several two handed dunks. Once Colorado figured out how to break UW's defense, it was all over. Colorado won 64-47.
The Washington State Recap: Against Washington State, the Buffs came out hot from deep. The only problem is WSU did as well. The Cougars managed to outshoot the Buffaloes from deep and build up a small lead. That being said, Askia Booker and Josh Scott did all they could to keep Colorado competitive. Nevertheless, at halftime WSU led 45-38. For most of the second half, the Buffaloes played catch up. But eventually their no quit attitude allowed them to take a 73-72 lead with 4:32 to play. Yet, the Cougars managed to tie the game up with one second left. In overtime, WSU's hot shooting from deep gave them a six point lead right away. That was the final dagger for Colorado, as they were not able to come back. In the final game of the regular season, the Buffs lost 91-96.
What Went Wrong: The usual suspects. Colorado struggled to guard the three point shooters, force their opponents to take bad shots, and stay focused for all 40 minutes of either game. Hey, at least "struggled against the zone" isn't in this list. Again just like last week's recap, it's pointless to explain the same issues the Buffs struggled week for the entire year. (If you're looking for complaints about the Buffs, check out Twitter.)
What Went Right: Would the real Josh Scott please stand up? Welcome back sir, we missed you. If you couldn't infer by now, Josh Scott had two monstrous games to show the Pac-12 that he's finally 100% heathy again. Against Washington, Scott dropped 21 points and grabbed nine rebounds. In the Washington State game, he delivered a career performance with 32 points, 12 rebounds, and one block too. Josh's performance on the Washington trip, gave everyone a peek at what could have been if back spasms had not plagued the giant for most of the season. Xavier Johnson played quite well on this road trip too. XJ settled into his sixth man role nicely. Even though it is unfortunate that his off court actions cost him his starting sport, he still appears committed to the team and provided the Buffaloes with a much needed presence off the bench. I will accept Johnson's decisions and level of play, as of now. But when next year rolls around, he better change his attitude and step up as a leader of the team. Moving on to the underclassmen, Dominique Collier and Tre'Shaun Fletcher played well in the Washington game. Collier has taken on the roll of the ball facilitator and Fletcher found confidence in his shot and drive. From a team aspect, the Buffaloes for once didn't break down against a zone. When the Huskies dropped back into their 2-3 zone, Colorado actually played better. They didn't panic and throw up rushed, low percentage shots. Rather, they worked the ball into the heart of the zone for easy buckets or shots at the charity stripe. The Buffs also, for the first time this season, they remained calm and poised when Washington and WSU went on a run. They remained consistent and answered everything both teams threw at them. Had it not been for a jump ball that should have been a foul, the Buffs would have flew back to Colorado with two consecutive road wins for the first time this year. While Colorado can't live in the world of what if's, it is somewhat promising to see the Buffs learning how to deal with pressure. So, the Buffaloes matured at least in this aspect during the season.
Colorado now holds the 10 seed in the Pac-12 Tournament and will face Oregon State in the first round. If they somehow pull out a victory, they'll be able to face Oregon, a beatable team. For the lower seeds of the Pac-12 Tournament, it seems that the Buffaloes grabbed the best one. If CU can carry over the best of what they've done over the past two weeks, they might be able to surprise everyone in the Pac-12 Tournament. Who knows, we might see a repeat of 2012. (But probably not. Do we really have any chance against Arizona, or Utah?) So, let's just enjoy the Buffs for the remainder of the season while it lasts.