GAME NOTES: Fresh off a big win over Oregon, the 15th-ranked Colorado Buffaloes hit the road to face the Washington State Cougars in a Pac-12 Conference matchup at Spokane Arena.
Even though the Buffaloes were forced to play at a faster pace than they are used to, they showed their resolve in taking down the then 10th-ranked Ducks, 100-91, on Sunday. The win was the third straight for Colorado, which has risen in the national rankings and owns a 13-2 overall mark. The Buffaloes have played only two true road contests, but have won both. They visit Washington next.
Washington State has had a brutal start to its conference schedule. The Cougars were routed, 60-25, by No. 1 Arizona last Thursday, and three days later were trampled by Arizona State (66-47). This is a quasi-home game for the Cougars, who will be playing at Spokane Arena for the first time since losing to Oregon, 92-75, in the venue during the 2011-12 season. Washington State will entertain Utah next.
Colorado won both meetings between these teams a season ago, and leads the relatively new series, 3-1.
Askia Booker and Spencer Dinwiddie each scored more than 20 points, and Josh Scott logged a double-double (15 points, 12 rebounds) in a surprising display of offense from Colorado against Oregon. The Buffaloes nailed 56.4 percent of their shots from the floor and got 33 points from the free-throw line to make up for 16 turnovers.
It is not as if Colorado cannot score. After all, the Buffs are fifth in the Pac-12 in scoring at 78.1 ppg. However, they are just ninth in the league in field goal percentage (.458) and next-to-last in assists (12.9 pg). Dinwiddie (15.8 ppg, 4.1 apg) is the most important contributor on the roster, leading the team in both points and assists. Booker (13.6 ppg) is hovering around the 40 percent mark in field goal percentage, but netted a career-high 27 points on 8-of-16 shooting against Oregon. Scott (13.2 ppg, 9.5 rpg) is always a threat for a double-double, and Xavier Johnson (10 ppg, 6.2 rpg) adds length to the rotation.
Another dismal offensive showing doomed Washington State against Arizona State, as the Cougars only connected on 34 percent of their attempts from the floor, while totaling eight assists against 14 turnovers. Que Johnson scored a team-high 18 points, but he was the only player to tally more than seven points.
The offensive end of the floor has presented Washington State with all kinds of problems this season, as the team is dead last in the Pac-12 in a number of statistical categories, including scoring (65.7 ppg), assists (11.2 apg) and field goal percentage (.423). The lack of firepower is unfortunate, considering how stout the Cougars have been on defense. Opponents are scoring only 63.6 ppg on 43 percent shooting them. DaVonte Lacy (17.7 ppg) is the team's leading scorer, but he didn't look like it against the Sun Devils, as he posted only four points in the loss, playing 11 minutes in his return after missing two games due to an emergency appendectomy. Royce Woolridge (9.8 ppg) is typically the club's second option.
Colorado will more than likely get back to its slower pace against the defensive-minded Cougars. A different tempo won't stop the Buffs though, as they have proven to be able to handle just about anything the opposition throws at them.
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