On Monday night, the Buffs appeared to be primed for a successful basketball season with a sound thumping of Auburn. Six days later, all of that proved to be a facade as Wyoming humiliated CU in Laramie. While the loss to the Cowboys greatly overshadowed the week, the Buffs did play well against Auburn. Still, if the Buffaloes want to have any chance at going to the Big Dance this year, CU has quite a lot to work on.
The Auburn Recap: At 11 P.M on Monday night, the Coors Event Center was rocking and nearly filled to capacity, despite the late tip-off. The Buffs came out with a slow start, giving up several baskets from deep. After a TV timeout at the sixteen minute mark with CU leading 10-8, Colorado went on a solid 7 point run behind Wesley Gordon and Josh Scott. Yet, the Buffs failed to take advantage and let Auburn sneak back into the game. The Buffs answered with another run, putting Colorado up 29-19 with 7:13 to play. Then, surprise, CU let the Tigers back into the game again with terrible shot selection, and non-existent defense. Somehow, the Buffs managed to escape the half with a 38-34 lead. For the first three minutes of the second half, Colorado and Auburn traded baskets. Then, Xavier Talton lit a fire under the rear of the Buffs, with a bone crunching charge. CU proceeded to go on a 35-6 run, which could have possibly been a 35-0 run if it hadn't been for some always terrible Pac-12 officiating. With five minutes to play in the game, Colorado led the Tigers 75-48. The Buffs closed the game by adding 15 more points from the bench to win 90-59.
The Wyoming Recap: Again Colorado came out to a slow start, giving up ten points in five minutes. However, the Buffs managed to scratch and claw their way back into the game thanks to Xavier Johnson. Next, Dominique Collier checked into the game. In his first five minutes as a Buff, Collier hit two deep threes, perfectly facilitated the Buffs offense, and gave the Buffs a 22-19 lead. However, CU couldn't hold the lead and trailed 26-24 going into halftime. Colorado then decided pack up and leave early, or at least that's what it looked like in the second half. The Buffs started off by giving up two deep three pointers, off two ugly turnovers, all within the very first minute. Then Josh Adams decided to reminded the Buffs how much they truly lost by passing on him three years ago, by single handedly leading the Pokes past the Buffaloes. In a span of twelve minutes Adams led the Wyoming offense by adding two of his own points and dishing out five assists, including a nasty alley-oop to Larry Nance Jr. that put Josh Scott on a poster. While Adams could do no wrong, the Buffs could no right. The Buffs mustered up a pathetic nine points in 20 minutes, and gave up an embarrassing 30. The final score: 56-33 Wyoming, concluding the worst offensive performance for Colorado in 65 years.
What Went Right: It's very difficult to focus on any positives after the trouncing up in Laramie. Still, there were times the Buffs played well against Auburn, and there were even a few sprinkles of promise in the Wyoming game. CU proved they can recover from a slow start. In both games the Buffs started with a lackluster performance, but managed to find their composure and build leads. Also, Colorado's big men gave the Buffs several extra possession with their physicality on the offensive glass. Lastly, Dominique Collier gave every Buff fan something to look forward with his debut. Collier brought offense flow, and commanded the point guard position with veteran poise.
What Went Wrong: Everything else. Wyoming revealed to the whole world how to beat the Buffs, hit your shots from deep. For what feels like the 5,000 time, Colorado proved they could not cover Wyoming's shooters. In the Wyoming game, the Cowboys shot 40.9% from the three point line, and went 22-42 from the field overall. With their accuracy from beyond the arc, Wyoming drew Colorado's defense out so Nance, and Cooke had ample room to work the middle. The same could have occurred in the Auburn game, however the altitude hurt the Tigers before the Tigers could hurt CU. In both games, Colorado's defense struggled to beat the opposing offense up the floor. Every time CU was on defense, the Buffs always seemed to be a man short. If the Buffs cannot beat their opponents up the floor, even at home, then we are in for a long season, a very long season. Next, the Buffs struggled with their offensive tempo. While CU did push the ball up the floor, many possessions ended in avoidable, forced turnovers. Again if the Buffs want any chance to do well this season, Colorado must figure how to be quick but not hurry. Continuing on offensive adjustments, since Josh Scott is now recognized as a dominant post presence, he will be consistently doubled almost every team. In order to compensate for the double team, the rest the Colorado big men must find the openings the double team will create. Against Wyoming, Thomas, Gordon, and Miller were not able to position themselves correctly so Josh Scott could get them the ball when he was doubled. Because Scott had no passing angles, multiple times he either took a bad shot, or turned the ball over. Next, the Buffs must figure how to inbound the ball. And no, having Josh Scott catch the ball ten feet behind half court does not count as a play. If CU can't figure out inbounds plays, then they might as well forget any hopes of beating a legitimate team. Lastly, if the Buffs are going to press, then maybe the Buffs should learn how to actually press. Not only will it prevent the Buffs from ending up on the wrong end of a Larry Nance Jr. highlight reel, the Buffs will also learn how to break a press. In both the Wyoming and Auburn game, CU struggled to break the measly presses.
The Buffs have a lot to work on, but I have full confidence in Tad Boyle and Co. they will learn from the lashing and prevent anything like that from ever happening again. Still, we all must hope this blowout loss will not comeback to haunt the Buffaloes come March. Thankfully, the Buffs hit the easiest part of their non-conference schedule now, so they will have plenty of opportunities to patch several of the holes the Cowboys shot in CU. Let's do our best to put the Wyoming loss behind us and move on.