RTC Live: Oregon St @ ColoradoPosted by rtmsf on December 4th, 2010
Game #56. We’re headed to the Rocky Mountains for another first-time edition of RTC Live, this time in the shadow of the Continental Divide.
A slow start to the season has left many wondering if they were wrong about Colorado headed into their final season of Big 12 play. Many had picked the Buffaloes as a sleeper in the Big 12, but a 3-3 start with losses on the road to Harvard and San Francisco weren’t part of the plan. The good news for the Buffaloes is that they return to Boulder where they are 3-0 for a Saturday night contest against Oregon State. For Oregon State’s part, the Beavers hold an identical 3-3 record and might actually lay claim to an even uglier set of losses. Both teams and both coaches will look to get their season’s back on track in a game pairing two teams that will go from Big 12/Pac-10 opponents to just Pac 10 opponents one year from now with Colorado joining the Beavers in the Pac-12. Colorado is led by a talented pair of guards in Alec Burks and Cory Higgins, while Oregon State is paced on the interior by leading scorer and top rebounder Omari Johnson. Neither side can lay much claim to a tremendous advantage based on the early season struggles, but Colorado has better guard play and more in the way of a go to scorer. The play of Higgins and Burks early will be key to determining the outcome in this one.
[ed. note: our correspondent had trouble with internet connectivity tonight, so he has provided us with a recap below]
Colorado 83, Oregon State 57. Saturday night’s game between Colorado and Oregon State had the makings of an ugly contest early. The Buffaloes struggled to find their offense early against the Oregon State zone, while the Beavers were cold from the floor a problem that wouldn’t go away all night. Oddly enough Colorado finally started to find their way when senior guard and team leader Cory Higgens had to be helped to the locker room with an injury. Once the Buffaloes started settling in offensively they were able to knock down several outside shots led by senior Levi Knutson who finished the night 6-8 from the three point line leading to a career high 22 points. The outside shooting extended the zone and opened up the lane for dribble penetration and from that point forward the Buffaloes were in control. Colorado looked like a well coached disciplined team once they found their groove. They made life difficult for the Beavers on the offensive end forcing 17 turnovers and holding Oregon State to just 39% shooting. Once the lead was secured Colorado just kept playing smart basketball, scoring in transition and working their offense for the right shot. The Buffaloes were able to score 44 of their 83 points in the paint despite facing an Oregon State team with a noticeable size advantage. The reason for that? Dribble penetration, ball movement and generally speaking an all around better effort than their future Pac 12 counter parts. The result of that effort, a 71% second half shooting performance and a nearly 60% hooting performance for the game. With a 19 point lead at half the Buffaloes were never threatened in the final 20 minutes and in fact extended the lead to a 26 point win 83-57. Despite the big lead, Colorado coach Tad Boyle was intense, demanding and pushing his team for the full 40 minutes as he continues to mold a bit of a work in progress. The 1st year Colorado coach talked defensive effort and rebounding when he arrived on campus and his team rose to both of those challenges on Saturday night and looked like a team turning a corner. “I think guys are starting to buy in. I can sense it, I see it. At timeouts, they’re talking about it. They’re encouraging each other about it.” commented Boyle when asked about his teams growth. The statement is something that was visibly noticeable watching the game and a welcome sign for the 6000+ fans at Coors Event Center on Saturday night. For a team that had been billed in the preseason as a potential sleeper tournament team in the Big 12, this was the type of game they needed to get back on track. Oregon State isn’t a particularly good team, but the way Colorado played on Saturday night did represent the type of basketball many expected out of Boulder this season and that brand of basketball handled a future conference foe in convincing fashion.