The season has only just begun and the Colorado Buffaloes have a program-defining win over the #1-ranked LSU Tigers. Not only did the Buffs upset the defending champions, but they ran them out of the gym.
This Buffs team might be the best Colorado basketball team since Ceal Barry’s peak in the mid-1990s. They return every major contributor from last season’s Sweet Sixteen run. Jaylyn Sherrod remains that dog, Frida Formann is a capital-S Shooter, Aaronette Vonleh is a beast in the paint, Quay Miller makes everything fit together, and Kindyll Wetta adds an ounce of chaos to every possession. It’s a deep, veteran squad that knows exactly who they are and how they want to win.
LSU head coach Kim Mulkey knew JR Payne’s team would cause problems with their intensity and defensive structure. She was very clearly right to fear the Buffs, who set the tone early by hounding the ball, disrupting passing lanes and being extremely physical in the paint and on the boards. The Buffs have done this before and they will do it again. They want to create an ugly, disjointed game where they can out-tough their opponent and win with experience.
It also helps that one team has Jaylyn Sherrod and the other does not. She was everywhere in the first half. Her, Wetta and Tameiya Sadler were flying around at the top of the 2-3 zone, getting their hands on passes and going hard for every loose ball. If the ball was on the floor, it was going to the Buffs, usually Sherrod, as the 5’7 guard had 6 rebounds and 2 steals in the first half.
The Buffs were cold shooting early on and relied on Sherrod to create points in transition or on pick-and-roll drives. Sherrod was the fastest player on the court and did not turn off that motor. When she didn’t drive in for the layup herself, she was getting the ball to Vonleh on dump-offs and quick posts. Vonleh played probably her best game in her college career, as she ended up with 24 points and 6 rebounds, all while locking up and boxing out Angel Reese.
After leading 38-32 at halftime, the Buffs ramped up the pressure and started running off misses and turnovers. They finally found an offensive rhythm and it was Frida Formann’s turn to go off. The Danish sharpshooter started bombing away, often in transition, and scored 21 of her 27 points on threes. Her shot is so quick and so accurate that defenses panic when she get the ball in that range. Formann hit those shots when they were open and took advantage when the defense scrambled towards her, assisting five baskets in the second half alone.
Once the threes started falling, the Buffs began to run away with the upset win. Colorado was winning by as many as 22 points with six minutes to play. LSU got that down in garbage, but it was nonetheless a dominant win over the reigning national champs. The Buffs have had a few program-defining wins under Payne, but this was the first in school history any Colorado beat has beaten the #1-ranked team away from Boulder.
We already knew that this team would be very good and will a lot of games this season. This wins feels like a statement that the Buffs will compete for the Pac-12 title and possibly more if everyone stays healthy and the threes keep falling. Get ready for exciting times because this team is legit.