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Colorado loses to winless Washington

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It was just one of those games

NCAA Basketball: Pac-12 Conference Tournament-Colorado vs Washington Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

Losing to a team without a conference win sucks. Doing so as a Pac-12 contender, the week we all complain that the Buffs aren’t ranked, sucks even worse. But it’s over, it’s done, and we can move on.

Considering the circumstances — missing McKinley Wright and Jabari Walker due to foul trouble on a sensitive whistle; missing all eight attempted three-pointers — the Buffs had no trouble scoring 40 points in the first half. Zone busters Evan Battey and Jeriah had 12 points each — Battey a bully in the paint, Horne automatic with that turnaround mid-range jumper.

Wright is irreplaceable, but the offense hummed along because Eli Parquet was as close to a facsimile as could be. He was terrific as a main facilitator, cutting through the defense with nifty bounce passes. Even more impressive was his defense. He’s always great on that end, but tonight was something else, tallying four steals and three blocks. Despite taking just one shot, he looked every bit like the best player on the court during that half.

The Buffs ran good offense in the second half, but they struggled to maintain the lead simply because Washington got hot. The Huskies started the game with seven missed shots, but settled in and found a rhythm. They hit their stride late in the first half, cutting down a 10-point deficit, then caught fire early in the second.

You could nitpick Colorado for not playing tight enough one-on-one defense, but there’s not much you can do when Marcus Tsohonis is hitting the kinds of shots he was making. Washington as a whole was shooting 70% from the field, 80% from deep and 100% from the line when they finally took a 58-57 lead with 13 minutes left.

Of course, a subplot to Washington’s hot shooting was Colorado’s three-point shooting drought. The Buffs didn’t make a three-pointer until mid-way through the second half, and that was their only make in 18 tries. For any team on the road, it’s tough to win without making any threes, doubly so with the opponent everything they chuck up.

The Buffs were ready to make a winning run when Washington inevitably cooled off, but they never did. Every time Colorado re-took the lead, almost always by getting into the paint, Tsohonis or Jamal Bey responded with a contested jumper. Other than a few defensive lapses, there was nothing explicitly wrong with CU’s play — it was just one of those games where the other team got hot.

Once crunch time came around, the Buffs seemingly put too much pressure on themselves to make a shot. They were tight shooting the ball, too strong on layups, and committed sloppy turnovers on simple passes. They ultimately had a chance at the very end, but this was the one night they couldn’t make a three. This team is so mentally tough, but things didn’t go well tonight.

Lots of people will overreact to this loss and it makes sense why. The Buffs were looking pretty in the Pac-12 title race, had a perfect tournament resume and four easy games coming up. Losing to the worst team in the Pac-12 will be their worst loss of the season, and it really does suck, but this is not a harbinger of another late-season collapse.