“We have to own it, we have to accept it, as hard as it is, and we have to get better from it.”
Men’s basketball head coach Tad Boyle was quick to take responsibility for the University of Colorado’s loss to the No. 4 Arizona Wildcats on Saturday, Feb. 22 in Boulder. The Buffs left the Coors Events Center with a score of 61-88 on the board. The 27-point difference is the highest margin the Buffaloes have lost by in Boyle’s four-year career at Colorado.
The unusual hype surrounding ESPN College GameDay’s presence in Boulder and the prospect of hosting a top team had no influence on the loss, said junior point guard Askia Booker.
“We’re used to the cameras being here,” he said after the game. “That’s not an excuse.”
Booker contributed 10 points, finding the net only four times out of 14 attempts. Sophomore forward Josh Scott led the team with 18 points, ten of which came from the free throw line.
Scott credited his field goal percentage of .36 not to a lack of skill or rhythm, but rather to the defensive prowess of the Wildcats.
“I shot the ball 11 times, which is a lot,” Scott said. “Sometimes I thought I got fouled, and sometimes you’re not going to get the calls. I mean, they’re the best defensive team in the Pac-12, so, you know, it happens.”
Booker agreed, understanding that against Arizona’s fifth-ranked scoring defense, the Buffaloes could have lessened their deficit had they made more than two of 10 total attempts from the three-point arc throughout the game.
“It’s mainly because they pack the paint so well that you’re pretty much dared to take those shots,” Booker said.
Despite having the potential, the Buffaloes did not come through on those dares, said Boyle.
“We couldn’t finish at the rim and we couldn’t hit the open man,” he said. “They’re not 27 points better than us, but they sure were tonight. You can’t get away with the way we played against a team like Arizona.”
The Buffaloes trailed by 30 points heading into the final minute of the game. Senior center Ben Mills ended his final home game as a Buffalo with the first trey of his career. There were just under thirty seconds left on the clock.
The most disappointing aspect of this loss is the national scrutiny under which it unfolded, thanks to the presence of ESPN and the College GameDay crew. Every seat at the Coors Events Center was filled, and all allocated student tickets were sold weeks before the game. It was obvious, from within the arena and on television, that the usual electricity possessing Colorado’s crowd was not present by the final buzzer.
“Our fans were so ready for this game, for this win, and we gave them nothing,” Boyle said. “Our seniors deserve better than they got tonight. I’m disappointed; I’m angry; you name it.”
Senior guard Beau Gamble and center Ben Mills were recognized for their contributions to the men’s basketball program at Colorado both before and after the game during senior night. Gamble will graduate in May with a communications degree, and Mills will receive one in creative writing.
Although a career-end is near for these two players, the Buffaloes are just beginning to stress over the 2014 post-season. Now 20-8 overall and 9-6 within the Pac-12, Colorado will travel to Utah next Saturday. Two more road games against Stanford and California follow the Utes match-up on March 1.
Contact CU Independent Assistant Sports Editor Jordyn Siemens at firstname.lastname@example.org.