In the most Jekyll-and-Hyde game we’ve seen in quite some time, Colorado was able to defeat the Washington State and move on to the second round of the Pac-12 Tournament.
The first half was arguably the worst Colorado has played all season, and that’s saying something. You would think that with so much to play for — namely a potential NIT berth — they would’ve began the game with at least an ounce of energy, but nope, nearly every player on the Buffs looked lethargic. It looked almost like they were ready for the season to be over with.
In that first half, Colorado struggled in every facet of the game that didn’t directly involve Derrick White. The defense, to put it lightly, was a dumpster fire inside a factory fire inside a forest fire inside a solar flare ending all life on Earth. The only thing more flammable than Colorado’s perimeter defense was its interior defense. The Cougars shot over 60% from the field in the half and would’ve ran away with the game if not for turnover issues the Buffs were able to take advantage.
Colorado went into halftime down 41-27, but it could’ve been a lot worse, all things considered. Once they could to the locker room, Tad Boyle must’ve lit a fire under the team’s collective ass. That and/or Derrick White assured them he would take over in the second half, which he did emphatically.
The difference between the first and second halves, it seems, is that White transcended mortality. He’s carried the team all season long and did not hesitate when his heroics were required once again. White alternated possessions with gorgeous passes and clutch hero-ball shots as he led Colorado’s comeback with a ridiculous stat line of 26 points (8-15 from the field), 5 assists and 5 rebounds. I don’t know if it’s possible to overemphasize just how good and how important White is to the Buffs’ success.
Soon enough, the Buffs took the lead on a Xavier Johnson three-pointer to erase what was a 19-point first half deficit. After a tight few minutes thereafter, Colorado finished off their dominant second half and pulled away with the 73-63 victory.
That comeback, which required CU to outscore Wazzu 46-22 in the second half, was simply insane. And if that was insane, White’s performance was something not of this world, possibly heavenly.
Next up for the Buffs is the Arizona Wildcats (27-4, 16-2). That game, which may be the most difficult game of the season, will be played tomorrow night, March 9, at 7:00 pm and will air on Pac-12 Networks. If Colorado is able to play like they did in the second half tonight, they could catch fire and challenge the Wildcats.