Unfortunately, it did happen, and it was those old Achilles Heels of defense and rebounding that did the Buffs season in. ISU was able to shoot over 70% in the second half, and 57% for the game, while out-rebounding the Buffs by 8. Additionally, ISU had 5 players in double figures, and two (Calvin Godfrey and Jamie Vanderbeken) had double-doubles. It would take a damn miracle to win on the road against numbers like that.
While it was a overall team blitz by the Cyclones, the presence of Calvin Godfrey, who missed the first game, was the key difference. The freshman had a career night, going 23/11 in only 23 minutes of play. I fretted in my column yesterday that Godfrey might gash the Buffs, but I never imagined him having that level of impact. CU just didn't have an answer for him, and paid the price in the end.
|Godfrey destroyed CU last night. From: the Ames Tribune|
On the positive side for the Buffs, there was a lot of offensive highlights (which is to be expected when you drop 90 on a team). Alec Burks had another big night, nearly posting his own double-double while providing 24/9/4. Marcus Relphorde also had a big impact, chipping-in 21/7 while shooting 5-10 from 3. Had he not had some big 3-pointers in the second half, the Buffs would've lost by much more. Levi had a near-perfect night again, going 4-4 from 3 on his way to 16 points. CU battled offensively all night long, and put up some pretty impressive numbers, but just couldn't keep up with the night ISU was having.
Yesterday, when finishing up my preview, I looked past all of the sign-posts (road game, the return of Godfrey, trap game, etc) and picked the Buffs to win anyway. I just couldn't bring myself to admit that CU was going to lose last night; but lose they did. It wasn't lack of effort (outside of a few defensive letdowns, they played their asses off last night) but fate that doomed CU. It just wasn't going to happen last night.
So what does CU have left to play for? Well, for one, the seniors; Higgins, Relphorde, and Knutson deserve a proper send off Saturday evening. There is also that probable NIT berth on the horizon. The last time the Buffs found themselves in the NIT (2006), the team didn't take the "not-in-Tournament" tournament seriously, and the Buffs got blown out at home by the vaunted Old Dominion Monarchs from the Colonial Athletic Association; I'd sure everyone would like to avoid a repeat of that performance if possible. Finally, there's always pride. This is a good team. Sure, it has its flaws, but you don't just wake up one day and start beating Missouri, Texas, and K-State twice. The Tournament may not be in CU's future, but they're still an exciting team to watch, and I'll be there loud-and-proud Saturday evening to cheer them on against the hated Corn.