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Buffaloes scuttle, lose big at Arizona State

The Buffs start 0-2 in Pac-12 play.

NCAA Basketball: Colorado at Arizona State Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Sometimes basketball is a simple game: make your shots and force the other team to miss more than you. Right now, the Colorado Buffaloes are struggling mightily, and in their 83-61 loss at Arizona State, they showed that it’s quite hard to win if you don’t make any of your shots.

I don’t really know why the offense has tanked, but it probably starts with the issues on the perimeter. McKinley Wright is the engine of the offense, but he isn’t right. He’s cutting off his own drives, telegraphing lazy passes, and he hasn’t played with much focus or energy. And with him scuffling in his sophomore season, the Buffs have no one else to command attention.

Besides maybe Namon Wright, who missed today’s game, every other perimeter player is a net negative. D’Shawn Schwartz was lost today, and he has been most of his CU career. Daylen Kountz made some shots early, but he’s not good enough to be the team’s second best guard. Shane Gatling was supposed to be a gunner, but he can’t make anything right now. Elijah Parquet is going to be a stud, but he’s raw and can’t be more than a defensive specialist at this point.

With every perimeter player struggling, the opposing defense can sit in a deep zone, take away Wright’s drives, crowd Evan Battey, and dare CU’s mediocre shooters to let it fly. Arizona State was more than happy to let them pass, pass, brick, over and over. It’s a sign of a broken offense to see the team shoot 33% from the field (19% from 3) with 15 turnovers against 10 assists. (In analytics circles, that can be described as “YIKES”.)

The Colorado defense isn’t right either. Their rotations aren’t tight and they’re giving up open shots to any offense patient enough to pass around the arc. They can’t stop a dribble-drive to save their life. CU also just doesn’t have the size to deal with Luguentz Dort, Romello White and Zylan Cheatham pounding the paint. Tyler Bey can only do so much.

You probably don’t want to read much about this game and I honestly don’t want to write any more. It’s probably enough to say that CU was never going to win on the road against a good team with a broken offense and struggling defense.

Next up for the Buffs is a home game against Washington State on Thursday, January 10th. If Colorado doesn’t beat the Cougars, we’re probably in for a long season, if we weren’t already.