GAME NOTES: The Colorado Buffaloes will try to close out a three-game homestand with a victory, as the Washington Huskies come to town for a Pac-12 Conference clash at the Coors Events Center.
In the first two contests of the homestand, Colorado narrowly clipped Utah (79-75) and Washington State (68-63). The two victories ended a stretch of four losses in five games for the Buffaloes, who are a solid 17-6 overall, while tied for third place in the congested Pac-12 standings (6-4). They will visit UCLA and USC in their next two outings.
Washington has fallen in its last two games, both contests coming on the road. The Huskies have been unable to really get much momentum going in either direction this season, with an overall record of just 13-10 and as many wins as losses in conference play (5-5). Next up, they return home to face Stanford and California.
When the Huskies and Buffaloes squared off on Jan. 12, Washington ran away with a 71-54 victory. However, the major loss of the game for Colorado came when leading scorer Spencer Dinwiddie went down with a knee injury, which turned out to be a season-ending ailment.
In terms of the all-time series, Washington leads by a count of 9-7.
The Huskies tangled with Utah on Thursday night and fell flat in a 78-69 loss. Despite getting 20 points from C.J. Wilcox, Washington could not keep up with the Utes, who connected on an even 60 percent of their shots from the floor. The Huskies were also outscored 22-6 from the free-throw line in the contest.
At this point in the season Washington finds itself in the bottom half of the Pac-12 in terms of offensive production, ranking seventh in scoring (75.7 ppg) and ninth in field goal percentage (.449). Such pedestrian offensive numbers have come despite the efforts of Wilcox (19.8 ppg), who is shooting 47.5 percent from the floor and currently ranks second in the Pac-12 in scoring. Nigel Williams-Goss (13.2 ppg, 4 apg) has performed well in his freshman season, running the point and providing a second scoring option. Andrew Andrews (12.1 ppg) and Perris Blackwell (10.4 ppg, 6.7 rpg) are also consistent contributors, but the team lacks depth.
Colorado did not defend the perimeter very well on Wednesday against Washington State, allowing 13 3-pointers to the Cougars. However, the Buffs held sizable scoring advantages at the free-throw line (18-8) and off turnovers (14-4) to collect the victory.
The Buffaloes are also a team that does not produce at a particularly impressive rate on offense. They are ranked ninth in the Pac-12 in scoring (73.5 ppg) and next-to-last in field goal percentage (.445). With Dinwiddie out of commission, Askia Booker (14 ppg) and Josh Scott (13.8 ppg, 8.8 rpg) are the two most important players for Colorado offensively. Booker lived up to his end of the bargain against Washington, posting a team-high 26 points. Scott was less productive, managing just a single point in 32 minutes. Alternative scorers Xavier Johnson (10.9 ppg, 5.9 rpg) and Wesley Gordon (6.6 ppg, 6.6 rpg) have simply not been consistent enough for Colorado to survive many off nights from either Scott or Booker.
Colorado really deserves some credit. Since Dinwiddie's injury the Buffaloes have struggled, but they have remained competitive, especially at home, where they are still 14-1. Look for them to clamp down on Wilcox and find a way to earn another victory.
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