Covering University of Colorado sports, mostly basketball, since 2010

Thursday, February 10, 2011

A&M Wrap

(Note: K-State Preview tomorrow before Beer Post)

I just want to puke.  It's hard to take a loss where your favorite team leads essentially the entire way, yet still finds a way to lose.  My roommate suggested that I just list a string of endless profanities, I would almost rather write nothing at all.  It's kind of hard to write about an overtime home loss, but I'll give it a shot.

The first 10 minutes saw CU flat dominate the visiting Aggies.  The defense was good, causing 2 shot-clock violations and a few fast breaks getting the crowd on its feet. Then CU got into early foul trouble.  With star guards Alec Burks and Cory Higgins sitting on the bench, CU had to resort to zone defenses and a listless b-squad to make it to halftime.  This allowed A&M back into the game and the teams went to break only separated by a 2 point Buffs lead.
CU may have only had a 2 point lead at the break, but I was feeling pretty confident because of the high-flying first 10 minutes.  From: the Post.

At this point I was pretty confident.  The lead may have been only 2, but CU had played most of the 1st half with Burks and Higgins either on the bench or desperately avoiding any fouls.  The Buffs were out shooting the Aggies (48%-42%) and rebounding, while an issue, wasn't too far out of reach.

The second half was a completely different story.  CU's shooting percentage dropped precipitously (33%, including overtime) and A&M began to dominate CU on the boards.  The half-court offense had stalled and the stingy Aggie defense wasn't giving the Buffs any opportunities to dribble-drive and find the open man.  The Aggies also began to fully dominate the boards (they ended up with a +11 advantage) which limited CU's ability to run and get out of the staunch A&M defense.  CU began to force drives and shots, usually to the detriment of any scoring opportunities.  At times it felt that down the stretch CU was going 2-5 as Burks and Higgins tried to take on the Aggie defense all by themselves.

Regardless, with a little luck, and a little help for a self-destructing Aggie team who gave CU 4 points via technical fouls and a 7-point possession (never seen that before), CU still held a lead late.  However, with the half-court offense in disarray, and CU unable to get to the line off of the dribble-drive, that lead was going nowhere and the Aggies were allowed to play catchup. With 1.9 seconds left Aggie guard B.J. Holmes sent the game to overtime with a back-breaking 3.  The Buffs just didn't look ready for overtime, and once that tying 3 went in I knew it was all but over.  The momentum of that play carried over into the extra-5, and CU could only barely hang on to the game. Levi did manage to get open for a final shot after the Aggies kept missing freethrows, but his shot fell short and CU lost a heart-breaker.
A dejected Higgins and Relphorde look on as the Aggies pull out the win.  From: the Post

The headline stats, the rebound discrepancy and the poor 2nd-half shooting, tell a lot of the story, but I think the biggest reason CU lost was the inability to find an offensive rhythm in the 2nd half.  All game CU was forced to play Levi as the primary point guard (with Sharpe spelling him off the bench).  He wasn't always bringing the ball up the court, but he was the one filling in for injured starter Nate Tomlinson.  Without the direction of the veteran Aussie point guard the offense looked sloppy and stagnant.  Additionally, I feel it took Levi out of his comfort zone; he forced some shots (A&M did a great job forcing him to his left hand on drives), and ended up a unusually poor 2-11 from the field.  If Nate's on the court, I think the final 25 minutes plays out differently.

Irregardless, CU now stands at 4-6 in conference and has lost 6 of their last 7 games.  The season is now firmly stuck in a tail-spin, and it would take a damn miracle to pull out of it.


aaron.jordan said...

Definitely a tough game to watch. If I remember right, we only made 1 legitimate shot in the last 5 minutes of regulation and all of overtime, all the rest of our points were free throws.

Well at least all the fair weather fans will be gone!

RumblinBuff said...

Surprisingly enough the house was full for KState. Maybe a good sign for the future.