The Colorado Buffaloes basketball team is 3-1, they're on a three-game winning streak, and they're averaging 81 points per game. Yea? Nay.
The 87-82 win over Nebraska-Omaha on Sunday afternoon didn't quite cut it for head coach Tad Boyle, as the Buffaloes came out extremely flat and allowed the Mavericks to shoot 47 percent from the field.
"Nebraska-Omaha deserved to win this game, they outplayed us in a lot of different areas," said a heated Boyle after the game. "Without Josh Scott and Wesley Gordon, I think we lose by 25 points. Our players need to understand where our bread is buttered and what makes Colorado Basketball... The reason for our success in the first four years our staff has been here is because we take pride in defense, we take pride in rebounding. Tonight, our perimeter defense was an absolute joke. We gave up 17 layups. Just getting beat off the drive, you name it."
Scott and Gordon were solid for Colorado, combining for 26 points, 19 rebounds and 6 blocks and their rim protection kept the Mavericks from having a whole bunch more layups. Boyle put the rest of the team on blast, though.
"I gave them a piece of my mind in that locker room," Boyle said. "And again, I'm not talking about Josh Scott and Wesley Gordon, I want to make that really clear, I'm not calling those guys out, I thought they were terrific defensively and they and they rebounded their tails off, but the rest of us have some soul searching to do."
"We gave up 17 layups, seventeen layups is what we gave up to Nebraska-Omaha," he added. "That's a lack of pride, that's a lack of toughness, that's a lack of being able to keep the ball in front of you. Our perimeter players better have a come-to-Jesus meeting with themselves. The good thing is, we're going to watch it on film and they're going to see it and they're not going to be able to argue it, 17 layups is 17 layups."
Colorado wing, Tre'Shaun Fletcher, who had 15 points, said the slow start, which saw the Buffaloes trail by as many as thirteen, could have been due to an early tip time (noon).
"I would say [the slow start] was about adjusting to a new time," he said. " It was an early start compared to playing at night... I'm not using it as an excuse but getting up for a game this early puts a different factor in play."
Boyle was, well, not thrilled with those comments.
"Ah forget that, give me a break," Boyle exclaimed, reddening in the face. "Shame on Tre'Shaun, are you kidding me? Did Nebraska-Omaha have to play at four? They played at noon, we played at noon, that's garbage, I can't believe he said that. You give me a break Tre'Shaun... When I hear a player say that I'm like, 'look in the mirror.' It's noon for everybody, that's not an excuse, you kidding me?"
"Those guys can play and guess what? They have a little bit of a chip on their shoulder playing against a Pac-12 team," Boyle added. "Our guys walk out as if the world owes them something and these guys are going to bow down. That's not going to happen, that's why you see upsets in college basketball that's why I love college basketball, especially this time of year... Nebraska-Omaha does not owe us anything and they played like it."
After calming down a bit, Boyle was able to find a few positives in the performance.
"We shot the ball well from the free-throw line in the second half when we had to," he mustered up. "We rebounded our tails off in the second half, especially on the offensive side. You've got to learn how to win when the ball isn't going in, we shot 33 percent in the first half. Our program is predicated on being able to win when you shoot 33 percent and the only way you do that is if you defend and you rebound. We rebounded when we had to rebound."
But in the end, the game will serve as a coaching moment above all else.
"We snuck out of here with a win, I'm not sure we deserved it, we're going to take it, but we're going to get better, I can promise you that," Boyle explained. "We're going to use the next three days before thanksgiving, we all have a lot to be thankful for, but I'm thankful for the fact that they don't have to go to school this week and that we don't have NCAA time restrictions on practice and film watching, that's what I'm thankful for. We're going to put that to use these next three days before we eat turkey."
Fair to expect that the Buffs won't come out flat when they take on Air Force on Wednesday night at the Coors Events Center (7 PM MT, Pac-12 Networks).
Scott tallied his 25th career double-double on the night (14 points, 12 rebounds) tying him for 10th most all-time at CU with David Harrison. The points and rebounds were big, but it was his rim protection that earned him these honors. Scott was credited with three blocks, but he affected countless others. The big man was the difference between a win and a loss for Colorado.
Trailing by 13 early in the second half, the Buffaloes were able to put together a 15-4 run, to bring the right back into it and calm the nerves of the fans in the Coors Events Center. The crowd got involved, the Buffs stepped up their defense and eventually took control of things.
46 - The number of free-throws Colorado shot (made 34)
7,199 - The announced attendance for the game
1,000,000,000,000 - Brett Brady's stat line when he came in the game in the first half. Mar down a tril for BB.
The game should serve as a great coaching opportunity for Coach Boyle, who will surely not let his team underestimate an opponent the rest of this season. It seems you always have a game or two like this in a college basketball season so it's important that the Buffs got out of there with a "W."
Colorado welcomes in the Falcons of Air Force into the Coors Events Center on Wednesday night (7 PM MT, Pac-12 Networks.)