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Colorado’s slide continues, lose to USC

The Buffs have gone 4-8 in their last 12 games.

NCAA Basketball: Southern California at Colorado Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

The Colorado Buffaloes continue their downward slide, losing to the USC Trojans to fall to 15-14 on the season and 7-11 in Pac-12 play.

Just an hour after the CU women lost to Stanford in a low-scoring, brick-laying game, the Trojans proved that there was nothing wrong with the CUEC rims. No matter what kind of shots they threw up, everything was going in, or at least 63% of them. The Buffs have had an elite defensive unit — 18th best in the country, according to KenPom — but there’s not much to do about Boogie Ellis and Reece Dixon-Waters hitting contested threes. (The defense should probably do better than getting shredded by Drew Peterson’s cross-court passes, but I refuse to credit USC for anything good.)

The offensive end wasn’t a catastrophe, which is better than most nights. KJ Simpson had a good start and attacked the basket with ease — it was probably the first game in months that the opposing team didn’t hedge him every time he ran a pick-and-roll. Lawson Lovering was solid and Nique Clifford looked comfortable. We even saw a cameo from Quincy Allen, thanks to injuries to J’Vonne Hadley, Jalen Gabbidon and Javon Ruffin. But that’s where the good stuff ends. Tristan da Silva had a rough first half, although a lot of his misses were in-and-outs. Ethan Wright had a +/- of -15 in 11 minutes. Julian Hammond looked overmatched. Luke O’Brien was as chaotic as usual but more on the negative side this time around.

The second half looked like it was going to be down the toilet drain for the Buffs, until Quincy Allen’s cameo turned into a jolt of energy. After hitting a three and blocking a shot in the first half, he stepped up to hit another three, assisted Wright for another three, then blocked a shot at the rim that turned into a Lovering dunk (after KJ made a crazy one-handed catch and pass for that assist). Suddenly the Buffs were within single digits after looking lifeless for the last 10 minutes of play.

Things did end up going down the toilet, but at least we had fun for a few minutes. That little three-point barrage was an anomaly, as the Buffs made all of 6 threes on 28 attempts, which is sadly par for the course since the team is shooting near 30% from deep on the season. Simpson played a bit too much hero ball, da Silva didn’t really get into the game, and the Buffs kept getting cut up by USC’s smart passing. But hey, Allen was exciting and Lovering is looking better every game.

It would be easy to look ahead to next season when Cody Williams will be here, maybe alongside a transfer or two now that CU’s arcane transfer restrictions were lifted for Deion Sanders. The Buffs could still make noise, even if postseason play is unlikely. They will have their hands full against a top-10 UCLA team on Sunday, but they played them tough in their previous matchup. Then it’s Utah for the home finale on March 4, which should be a win but you never know with these Buffs.