|Honolulu, here I come!|
Today in the bag, I'm talking the win over Northern Colorado, the goings on with the rest of the Pac-12, and a Heisman for the Conference of Champions.
Click below for the bag...
Buffs get it done against UNC -
Colorado Basketball was in desperate need of a happy day. With the natives getting restless, and the season starting to spin out of control, the team needed to rally and claim a smooth victory. A few early defensive struggles aside, that's exactly what they got Saturday afternoon, as the Buffs made the leaky Northern Colorado defense look like a sieve to more than make up for their own issues. 93-68 will do nicely, and CU heads into finals week with smiles on their faces.
I talked before the game how UNC possessed one of the nation's worst defenses, and the normally pedestrian Colorado offense took advantage. For the game, CU would shoot 63% from the floor, including 67% from deep, to average 1.52 points per possession. If you're not familiar with the ppp stat, let me tell you that 1.52 is really good. I've been looking, but, through the KenPom era (since 2001-02), I can't find another game in which Colorado even cracked 1.5 ppp. The closest is the 104-59 win over Longwood in 2010 (1.49 ppp). We saw some wild, crazy stuff against the visiting Bears.
|I was a bit too easy for Ski and the free scoring Buffs. From: the BDC.|
The best offensive performance, with all credit given to Ski Booker and Josh Scott (each over 20 points), may have come from Jaron Hopkins. CU has been in a continued search for consistent play from the point guard slot this season, and Hopkins showed some flashes of what could be. He finished with 10/5/5, and did a great job of attacking with the dribble-drive, and forcing a reaction from the defense. Based off of that reaction, holes opened up, and the points flowed. I'd want to see it against a better team, but a combination of Hopkins and Collier (who has missed the last two games) could be the point guard solution BuffNation has been looking for.
|That's about the best that J-Hop has looked in a CU uniform. From: the BDC|
Look, all of this needs to be taken with a grain of salt, as UNC is a small conference squad that simply couldn't hang with the Buffs once they started to play a little defense. But, headed into finals week, you couldn't have asked for a better send-off to the tournament in Hawai'i.
Around the world of Pac-12 Hoops -
A lot of hoops being played in the Pac-12 on Saturday, here are the highlights:
Kansas 63 - Utah 60 -
Poor Utah. They worked their asses to come back from 21-points down to take a lead 55-53 with just under five minutes to play, but went scoreless for the next four, and wound up taking a tough loss in Kansas City. Technically a 'neutral site' game (the damn Jayhawk logo was at midcourt... *smh* 'neutral'), the Utes missed an opportunity to grab a declarative win, not just for themselves, but for the Pac-12 as a whole.
|I'm uncomfortable with happy Jayhawks.|
Arizona 80 - Michigan 53 -
Speaking of the Wildcats, they dismantled the Wolverines on Saturday, making a mockery of a program that has been a national power in recent years. Not that the result should come as a surprise, mind you. Michigan is worst in the nation at attacking the rim; unsurprisingly, 'Zona took it to them inside, outscoring them 42-16 in the paint.
|Arizona is about the worst matchup possible for Michigan.|
Oregon 77 - Illinois 70 -
Good one for the Ducks, as they beat a very solid U of I team in Chicago. They even did it with Joe Young benched for the start of both halves, too. Freshman forward Dillon Brooks picked up the slack for Young, as he chipped in 25/5/4 in 27 minutes. In case you haven't noticed, Brooks has been on fire for Oregon, scoring in double figures each of his nine games this season. With him playing off of Young, the free fall for Nike U may be cut short. Shame, that.
Gonzaga 87 - UCLA 74 -
Less helpfully, from a conference perspective, UCLA got beaten around by the zone-busting Bulldogs, leaving the Bruins without a real quality win on their resume. They've given up over 1.1 ppp in their losses this season, and have struggled to contain offensive juggernauts like UAB (who are 243rd nationally in efficiency). I'm just not sold on what I'm seeing in Westwood; instead, liking what upstart teams like Washington have showed much more. It wouldn't surprise me to see UCLA drop below the bye-cutoff, come Vegas time.
|The 'Zags had no trouble in Pauley.|
While things in Pualey have been inconsistent, across town, things are much worse. The Trojans have now lost to Portland State (home), Akron State (neutral), Penn State (same), and the Black Knights (back at home). Outside of one happy evening in Albuquerque, USC hasn't shown much, in this, the second year of the Andy Enfield Era. While the freshman McLaughlin has been fun, other imports like Katin Reinhardt have been trash. If you think CU has offensive issues, just peep the next USC game.
A West Coast Heisman -
Congratulations to the newest member of the Heisman family, Oregon Ducks superstar Marcus Mariota. In a landslide decision, the voters overwhelmingly went for the Pac-12 rep, giving him over 88% of all the first-place votes cast. While a few, weirdly, left him off their ballots, his 95% inclusion rate was the highest of all time. In a year with few other viable options, it was more than deserved.
With Heisman in hand, Mariota nears the end of one of the great careers in the history of college football. Through 39 starts, he's only been beaten four times, and has a 101 : 12 assist-to-turnover ratio. All that's left: a national title. I may not be able to stand the Ducks, but I have a soft spot for Marcus, and hope he ends up at the top of the pile in January.