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Colorado upset at home by Northern Iowa

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The Buffs have entered a critical stretch.

NCAA Basketball: Northern Iowa at Colorado Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

At some point this season, this was going to happen. Some team was going to come into the CU Events Center and get hot, and Colorado wouldn’t be able to hang with them down the stretch.

Against Northern Iowa (9-1) on Tuesday night, the Panthers made 14 three-pointers on 26 attempts. The Buffaloes’ (7-2) scheme gives up some threes in order to pack the paint, but as we have seen for years, that will bite CU when a team gets hot. For UNI, it wasn’t just one player getting hot — there was no Brady Heslip or Bryce Alford — it was the entire team. A.J. Green and Trae Berhow each made five threes apiece, on just 16 total attempts, which is unholy efficiency.

Early on, Colorado kept up with UNI because Lucas Siewert had arguably his best ever collegiate game. The big man stepped up with 15 of CU’s 32 first half points. He showcased his offensive versatility as he drilled pick-and-pop jumpers, open threes, and even scored on smooth post-ups. As great as Siewert was, he couldn’t do it all. The Buffs didn’t make a field goal in the final 5:44 of the first half.

The Panthers jumped out to a 12-point lead after the halftime break. Colorado struggled with open misses and turnovers before using a 9-0 run to make it close again. The two teams battled down the stretch as they had eight lead-changes in five minutes. It came down to a Siewert game-tying three-point attempt, but Northern Iowa outlasted the Buffs.

After dropping this game, the Buffs will be in must-win mode against Colorado State on Friday night. Colorado has struggled these past few weeks and for the sake of their NCAA Tournament resume, they cannot afford to lose any more games, sans Dayton (Dec. 21). The Moby Arena is a terrible place to play, so the Buffs will have to step up.