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The CU men’s basketball team lost Wednesday night against fellow Big-12 bottom-dweller Missouri 65-79 in front of 3,159 fans at the Coors Events Center.
Prior to the start of the 2006-2007-basketball season, writers covering the Big 12 conference picked the Buffs to finish dead last in the conference. Almost one-third of the way through conference play, the Buffs are doing their best to make those writers look smart.
The Buffs (5-10, 1-5 Big 12) entered the game against the Tigers (11-6, 1-4) looking to rebound from an ugly 71-50 loss at Nebraska on Saturday, where they shot 39 percent from the floor. Wednesday was not any better for the young Buffs; CU turned the ball over 15 times and went 1-15 from the three-point line. The team managed to shoot only 30 percent from the floor against a Missouri defense that entered the game ranked ninth in the conference in scoring defense.
“Unfortunately, we couldn’t make shots tonight. No matter how well you play on the defensive end, you still have to make shots,” said Buffs head coach Ricardo Patton.
Wednesday night marked another frustrating game in what has been a frustrating season for Buffs sensation Richard Roby. Roby, who was a preseason All-Big 12 selection entering his junior season, was 4-12 from the floor, tallying just 11 points to go along with four turnovers. Freshman Xavier Silas led the Buffs in scoring for the third straight game with 16 points.
When asked what he would do differently to turn around Colorado’s season, Roby said he would like to see more progress be made to get the team’s scorers open.
“I’d probably try to concentrate on getting guys that can shoot the ball better looks at the basket, because I think if you get guys looks in the post, then (the shooters) are going to get more open, too,” Roby said.
Roby also alluded to the team’s obvious absence of a single leader at the point guard position.
“Most of the time we had Marcus Hall last year. He was the point guard, and he’s always demanding the ball and pushing the ball,” Roby said. “That’s something we have to learn as a team-find the guy I guess.”
Making the Buffs challenge even more difficult is their propensity for playing from behind. After leading the ballgame for the first five minutes, the Tigers went on a 7-0 run that put them up 15-11. Missouri would never look back as CU rushed its offensive possessions by forcing shots.
“Throughout the game, we have to learn to be patient and execute our offense,” said freshman forward Jeremy Williams, who had a career-high 15 points in the ballgame.
Missouri’s first-year head coach Mike Anderson and his team encouraged a fast-paced tempo by employing a full-court press much of the game. The Buffs played right into the Tigers’ hands during an atrocious first half, where they turned the ball over 11 times. Even though the Buffs did a better job of limiting their turnovers in the second half with just four, it was too little too late.
“We let them get off to a lead, and we didn’t come back with a run. That’s what a team that runs thrives on, so we (have to) match team’s runs,” Roby said.
Patton tried to point out some positives in his team’s performance, but he seemed at a loss for his club’s inability to shoot the basketball.
“We won some categories. We improved our free-throw shooting, took better care of the ball and out-rebounded them. But the only thing you can do is just continue to work on shooting the basketball,” Patton said. “These guys continue to work hard in practice, but there’s no rhyme or reason why the ball doesn’t go down sometimes.”
Patton, Roby and the rest of the Buffs better hope the ball is falling on Saturday when they travel to Lawrence, Kan., to face eighth-ranked Kansas.