Running Account of Colorado vs. Washington State basketball

Kansas%27s+Ben+McLemore%2C+Jeff+Withey+and+Elijah+Johnson+battle+Colorado%27s+Sabatino+Chen+%2823%29+and+Josh+Scott+for+a+rebound+during+the+first+half+of+a+men%27s+college+basketball+game+at+Allen+Fieldhouse+on+Saturday%2C+December+8%2C+2012%2C+in+Lawrence%2C+Kansas

(Rich Sugg/Kansas City Star/MCT)

Kansas’s Ben McLemore, Jeff Withey and Elijah Johnson battle Colorado’s Sabatino Chen (23) and Josh Scott for a rebound during the first half of a men’s college basketball game at Allen Fieldhouse on Saturday, December 8, 2012, in Lawrence, Kansas

Charlie Light, Co-Editor-in-Chief

In the past sixteen days, the Colorado Buffaloes have gone from a potential Pac-12 champ to a team that many are expecting to struggle against the lowly-Washington State Cougars in one of the most severe downfalls I’ve seen in sports. The Buffs came into their January 3rd game against Arizona with a 10-2 record, but they’re 1-4 since then coming into Saturday’s game in Pullman, Wa. There’s a sense of desperation building up around the team, which has only made things worse. The sole win in 2013 by the Buffs was an ugly, six-point victory over USC.

Teams seem to play the way they expect to, no matter their actual skill level. Coming into the Arizona game the fans were ecstatic about the Buffs’ early-season dominance of its opponents and they took that energy and played above their ceiling (for most of the game) against the third-ranked team in the country. This week, the story is more about how terrible CU’s been lately and the negativity from the media and fan base has brought the team down. It seemed like everyone expected CU to lose against Washington on January 16th. No one was surprised at all that the Buffs lost by double digits in that game.

This Washington State game looks even worse for the Buffs. Even though they have the same talent that almost beat Arizona and UCLA, all of the sudden no one would be surprised if the Buffs lost to Wash State, the same team that Ryan Thorburn recently ranked 11th in his Pac-12 power poll.

Anyway, let’s see if the Buffs can get a little momentum going for themselves to break out of this slump. Here’s my running account of the game, picking the action up in the second half.

9:16 I was late switching over to the second half to catch the end of an amazing Butler-Gonzaga game. I only watched the final two minutes of that game, but it seemed like an instant classic. Besides, almost any game is more bearable to watch than the Buffs right now.

9:20 Turns out the Buffs lost their slim halftime lead while we were away. 31-29 now, and I’m about to watch my sixth free-throw from WSU in the past three minutes.

9:22 Askia Booker dribbles right into a triple-team and then dumps it off to poor Xavier Johnson after Ski realizes there’s no way he’ll ever get off a shot. But X has a nifty reverse layup from behind the backboard to make up for Ski’s over-eagerness.

9:24 This time there’s no X to help out Ski, who drives into a double-team and throws up a desperation layup that’s blocked. Most of the Buffs hadn’t even gotten back on offense by the time Ski tossed it up. The Buffs are now trailing 34-33 at this point as we cut to commercials with Tad Boyle screaming at the refs after Shane Harris-Tunks gets creamed on a no-call. I don’t blame the refs for not looking to call a foul on Tunks’ defnder, though; Tunks rarely takes any shot without worrying more about convincing the ref of a non-existent foul than actually getting the ball in the hoop.

9:33 Askia Booker finally hits one of his long-range two-pointers (I’m not sure why he insists on shooting from six inches inside the line) and is now 2-for-10. Dinwiddie has nine points now, but X really has been saving the guards. 12 points on 4-for-5 shooting. I really can’t understand how the freshmen seem to be the most mature on the team. Scott has been consistent all year and X has been good when he’s in. Booker is often one of the best on the team, but sometimes he can be the team’s biggest liability. He’ll throw up wild shots when the team is struggling or try to beat double-teams made up of guys half-a-foot taller. This post on the AllBuffs.com forum sums up Ski’s play when he struggles: “Ski has become a complete liability on offense. He’s driving with no idea of what he’s going to do and hoping the seas part or he gets bailed out.”

9:36 Just as I start bashing Ski, he hits another one of those crossover, step-back jumpers from deep two-point range. That’s two of those in a row and we could be very quickly shifting from scrub-Ski to unstoppable-Ski very quickly here. You just never know with him.

9:39 Jeremy Adams hits a tough one-handed lean-back shot from inside the paint to make it 44-39. Meanwhile I’m still waiting for Adams to play me back on Ruzzle after he miraculously accepted my game request the other day.

9:40 Dinwiddie hits one of the luckiest three-pointers I’ve seen in awhile to give the Buffs’ their first triple of the game. The ball bounced high off the rim before dropping in. That it’s taken a shooting-oriented team nearly 35 minutes to get its first three of the game really shows how off they are. Buffs lead 47-44 with five minutes to go as Sabatino Chen misses the team’s seventh three-point attempt of the game.

9:49 Colorado has fallen to 10th in the conference as probably the biggest surprise this year for the Pac-12. But hey, that’s what they were pre-ranked last year before they won the conference, so there’s still hope, right?

9:51 Buffs are now up by nine, their largest lead of the night, with under two minutes to go. The announcer reminds us that “it’s finishing time for Colorado.” Gulp.

9:54 Askia and Johnson both miss the front-ends of their one-and-ones, but Wash State can’t cash in on the misses. Phew.

9:55 Dinwiddie steps up and makes two free-throws, and now this nine-point game seems over with 49.6 seconds left. I really hope so at least. It’s a shame that the last couple of weeks make me have any doubt that CU will win at this point.

9:58 Buffs have iced this one pretty nicely. Final score is 58 to 49. That puts Colorado at 2-4 in Pac-12 play, ninth in the standings.