Washington was always going to create problems for the Buffaloes. They have tons of length and athleticism and they’re coached by Mike Hopkins, a longtime assistant at Syracuse who has brought with him a complex 2-3 zone defense. Colorado had solutions early on — operating through Dallas Walton in the high post, looking for corner threes — but Washington adjusted by upping the defensive pressure and CU didn’t know how to respond.
Nothing worked for the Buffs in the first half as they shot 11-34 (32%) from the field and 2-12 (17%) from deep. Those numbers fall to a putrid 5-28 and 0-10 without Tyler Bey and Dom Collier combining for 17 points on 6-8 shooting. On the bright side, though, the Buffs had only one turnover.
On the other end, CU played fantastic defense early, but they faltered later in the first half as Washington started to figure them out and work for open looks outside and in transition. After CU took an 18-9 lead with 8:23 left in the half, the Huskies outscored them 27-9 the rest of the way. Part of that was Washington hitting shots they previously missed, part was CU’s offense collapsing, and part was UW dominating on the glass with a ridiculous 31-16 rebounding edge.
It doesn’t even make sense, but the Buffs were down by 9 points for just about the entire second half. They were down 36-27 at halftime, finished the game down 72-62, and there was nothing different in between. CU was forever hanging around, but just out of reach. Every time it seemed like they were about to cut into the deficit and make a run, Washington answered back.
The reasons behind CU’s continuous failed comebacks were in their anemic rebounding and their countless missed opportunities. It was possible for Washington to build back their lead because seemingly every time CU put together a solid defensive possession, they either conceded an offensive rebound or bailed them out with a foul. Despite having a more balanced scoring attack in the second, Colorado couldn’t outgun them because they missed too many open shots and committed untimely turnovers.
Washington is a quality team who clearly plays with focus and determination. The Buffs had to make the best out of their opportunities, but they didn’t and this goes down as a frustrating loss.
Next up for the Buffs is a potentially brutal road trip to Arizona (1/25, 6:30, FS1) and Arizona State (1/27, 6:00, ESPNU). Colorado won both games earlier this season, but winning on the road is a completely different challenge that will show us a lot about this team. If Colorado manages to at least split the road trip, that would more than make up for the loss tonight.