It is not too often that a Tad Boyle team gets “punked” in the Coors Event Center. At least that’s how the Colorado Buffaloes (12-8, 4-4) head coach described the 72-62 loss to the Washington Huskies (14-6, 4-3) on Saturday night. It is just the second loss at home for Colorado this season and their first since the blunder against the San Diego Toreros (13-7, 4-4) on December 12th.
In this line of work, there are nights when analysis requires complex thought and reflection, and then there are nights when the narratives write themselves. Saturday’s game was a great example of the latter.
Colorado surrendered the most rebounds (50) they have in one game to an opponent since February of 2012. The Huskies physically dominated the Buffaloes on the glass, out rebounding Colorado by a +16 margin. That includes 16 offensive rebounds that led to 20 second chance points for Washington as CU lost by 10. There’s your ballgame.
It wasn’t like Colorado was dominated for 40 minutes, they actually built a sizable advantage right away. Washington made just four of their first 20 shots and turned the ball over six times in the first 11:37 of game time. By contrast, the Buffaloes made eight of their first 19 field goals and did not commit a single turnover in that stretch. It was not an awe-inspiring effort from CU, but nevertheless it was enough to amass a nine-point lead with 8:11 left to play in the first half, 18-9. That’s when the script flipped.
First-year UW Head Coach Mike Hopkins used a timeout to halt the Buffs momentum facing a nine-point deficit early on the road. He brought his starters (Matisse Thybulle, David Crisp and Jaylen Nowell) back into the game and tasked them with responding to Colorado’s opening punch. That’s exactly what they did. UW immediately went on an 8-0 run over the next 1:21, cutting the nine-point deficit to just one, 18-17. Hopkins forced Boyle to use a timeout of his own to regroup with his young team. It wouldn’t matter. Washington hit nine of their final 13 shots in the first half, outscoring Colorado 27-9 over the game’s last eight minutes before halftime, 36-27.
The 18-point swing over the final eight minutes of the first half would prove to be too much for the young Buffs to overcome. The second half, too, provided few encouraging signs for Colorado as a team. Their defensive effort was not sufficient enough to slow down UW, nor would it have been against any conference foe in a similar position. Colorado trimmed the Washington lead to seven, eight different times in the second half, but could not string together the defensive stops necessary to mount a legitimate comeback.
Washington’s highly-touted freshman guard, Jaylen Nowell scored 12 of his game-high 19 points in the second half, making big shot after big shot extinguishing any spark the Buffaloes were able to kindle. Thybulle also added 11 of his 18 points and five of his 10 rebounds in the second half to secure the big road victory for the Huskies.
The Buffaloes were able to stop the hemorrhaging on the glass for the most part, as they were only out rebounded by one over the final twenty minutes. Contributing in large part to that was the outstanding performance of freshman Tyler Bey who recorded his first career double-double in the losing effort. Bey matched his career-high with 14 points, and also set a new personal best with 11 rebounds, seven of which were on the offensive end, and eight of which came in the second half.
Including Bey, the Buffs had five players that registered in double figure scoring. Dallas Walton chipped in with 13 points on the night for Colorado to go along with five rebounds, two assists and a career-high four blocks. George King tallied 13 points and six rebounds. McKinley Wright IV struggled shooting the basketball making just four of his 14 shots, finishing with 10 points, five rebounds, five assists and two steals. Dom Collier also continued his stretch of impactful performances at home as well, contributing 10 points off the bench for Colorado. In total, those five combined for 60 of the Buffs’ 62 points, while the four other Buffs that played combined for just two points in 45 minutes of action.
CU now has five days off to prepare for their most difficult road trip of the ’17-’18 campaign. The Pac-12 mountain schools begin their Arizona-swing this week as the Buffs travel to the McKale Center to take on the (#14/#17) Arizona Wildcats (16-4, 6-1) on Thursday, January 25th. U of A will be looking to seek revenge for their only loss in their last 15 games as the Buffs escaped with the upset in Boulder just a few weeks ago, 80-77. Tip off is slated for 6:30pm MT, nationally televised on Fox Sports 1.