Covering University of Colorado sports, mostly basketball, since 2010

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

TSU wrap: Omar comin', yo!

Kenpom had CU a 96% favorite to win last night. CU, #19 in both polls, should have had no trouble with a TSU squad that will probably end the season in the mid-200s.  Yet it still took the Buffs two overtimes, both played without the services of Andre Roberson, to shake off the pesky TSU Tigers 85-80.

Basketball is a funny game.

Obviously, this was a case of the Buffs having an off night.  They came in sluggish, and panicked when things didn't go their way early.  But to say this was solely a matter of the Buffs shooting themselves in the foot would do a disservice to Texas Southern.  Those kids smelled blood in the water from the opening tip, and played with their balls out for 50 minutes to try and win a season-defining game.  All credit to Mike Davis and his crew.  They didn't come to cash a paycheck, they came to make headlines.

The TSU effort was lead by a fantastic game from Omar Strong.  He came into the game averaging 8.7 points per game, yet threw down a 39 point effort that repeatedly stuck a knife in the Buffs defense. He finished 9-21 from beyond the 3-point arc, and could've even been better if not for some second half cramping issues.

Perimeter defense has long been a quiet issue for the Buffs.  Attend any practice, and you'll repeatedly hear the phrase "no layups."  The message is taken to heart, and the squad rarely gives up easy looks in the paint.  The downside is that the team is sometimes prone to allow open perimeter looks early, which can allow streaky shooters to get into a dangerous rhythm (prime examples: here, and here).  Shots after the opening minutes are contested, but a hot shooter doesn't necessarily care at that point.  Such was the case with Omar Strong.  He hit his shots, big ones too, but the Buffs allowed him to get into rhythm early.

I still applauded him and his teammates as they walked off the court.  They earned it.

As for the Buffs, that they survived the encounter with Omar is about all I can take away.  The first 20 minutes was an unmitigated disaster, essentially a worst-case scenario for the team.  For much of the game they were getting out-rebounded and out-hustled.  A case mostly revolving around a lack of focus.

Individual performances were lead by Spencer Dinwiddie.  He went for 24/3/3, netting most of his career-high scoring total at the line, where he went 16-18 on critical free throws.  Josh Scott also had a nice night, dropping 18/12 for his first career double-double.  The Tigers did about the best job I've seen on the season defending the big kid , but Josh powered through, and is becoming an absolute must-watch performer.  Andre Roberson dropped his own 11/12 double-double, but fouled out late in regulation, and had to watch the two overtimes from the bench.

A win is a win, and the Buffs are still sitting pretty at 6-0.  It will only get tougher from here on out, as the Saturday trip to Wyoming kicks off a brutal two-week stretch (@Wyo, CSU, @KU, @FSU) which will test the team like never before.  As Coach Boyle said on the post-game last night, if they continue to play like they did last night, this team will be 6-4 by the time finals break rolls around. 

That #19 that they earned with their run in Charleston might as well be a target.  Teams will bring their 'A' game each night against them to try and get on SportsCenter, and the Buffs can't show up with anything less then their best effort... even against a team like Texas Southern.  Such is life as a basketball heavy.


As a side note, one of the Tubas did the Tuba Cheer in high heels last night.  Having spun for four years, let me tell you that was even more impressive than Omar Strong's performance.  Fucking impressive as hell.

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