Three Key Takeaways.
- Outworked. For roughly the first 30 minutes of this game, Colorado was the significantly better team. They were killing UNLV on the glass (and wound up recording a 75.5 OR% and a 30 DR%) and blistering them from the field in building the lead as high as 20. Colorado was beating the Rebels to every loose ball, running crisp offense and defending like crazy, rapidly turning a highly anticipated game into a blowout.
- Bounceback. But, the Rebels didn’t give up and mounted a furious comeback, getting within two after a 26-8 run. They turned on a full-court press which gave CU all sorts of trouble (the Buffs turned it over 14 times in the second half on the way to 23 for the game), did a better job of attacking the hoop and even saw some three-pointers fall. Part of the reason for the turnaround seemed to be that the Buffaloes felt they had the game in the bag and let off the gas a little bit and it took them a while to right the ship. But when Andre Roberson blocked an Anthony Marshall shot, collected the loose ball and fired a Kevin Love-esque full-court pass to Carlon Brown for a dunk, the Buffs had their mojo going again and finished off the game from there.
- Main Matchup. Roberson and Mike Moser are similar players and coming into the game, their matchup was the primary individual matchup to keep an eye on. While Moser may be the name more known nationally, Roberson’s team not only won the war, but he won the battle. While Moser’s ten points and nine rebounds look okay, they came along with inefficient offense and despite the fact that Roberson, who wound up with 12 points and 16 rebounds, beat Moser to loose balls time and time again
Star of the Game. Andre Roberson. He was spectacular at the start, a major cog in the Buffs building up their early lead and he was instrumental in getting the Buffs back rolling again after they stalled out. While plenty of players made major contributions for CU, they’re heading back to Boulder if not for Roberson.
Sights & Sounds. After a stellar showing at the Pac-12 Tournament last weekend, the Colorado student section did it again tonight, turning out a big crowd and making The Pit a home floor for their Buffaloes. Apparently the CU athletic department put together an offer too good to be refused, offering students transportation to the game, a ticket and lodging all for $50 a person. If it helped earn the Buffs an extra game in the NCAA Tournament, it was a great deal for CU.
Wildcard. Askia Booker was a sparkplug for the Buffaloes off the bench in the first half, scoring 12 spectacular points in 11 minutes (on his way to 16 points on the game) and providing several plays that helped staunch a building sense of Rebel momentum.
Quotable. Brown on Booker’s statement that he is surprised at his success in his freshman year: “Can I say something to that? He’s not surprised. He just told you a nice lie because earlier when we were in the room he said, “Man, as long as Colorado got me, we’re going to win.” So he’s very confident in himself. We’re glad he’s confident. He played a great game today, and glad to have him.”
What’s Next? Colorado faces Baylor Saturday evening, hoping to extend their season-high winning streak to six games and advance to the Sweet Sixteen. Roberson will get another chance to add to his credentials when he matches up with the talented Baylor frontline.