The ultimate highs of wins over top-10 Kansas and Oregon teams earlier this season were mitigated by the despair of junior guard Spencer Dinwiddie’s torn ACL, and Colorado men’s basketball would never fully recover. Their loss on Saturday, March 1 to Utah on the road dealt another blow to team morale. It was a game the Buffs were hoping to win as they finished off their regular season. Instead, the Utes dominated the second half on their way to a 75-64 victory over Colorado.
Junior guard Delon Wright and sophomore forward Jordan Loveridge each scored 21 points for the Utes, leading a remarkably efficient Utah attack. Sophomore forward Josh Scott led the Buffs with 17 points and 7 rebounds.
The Buffs began the game on point, making seven of their first 10 shots and leading the entire first half. Freshman forward Dustin Thomas scored Colorado’s first seven points, as the Buffs took the Utah crowd out of the game early. Sophomore forward Xavier Johnson and sophomore guard Eli Stalzer each scored five consecutive points to help Colorado pull away.
But there were signs of trouble, too. Scott and junior guard Askia Booker each scored only two points in the first half. Booker left the game with his second foul with 7:12 remaining in the first half and the Buffs leading by seven. In his absence, the Utes turned Colorado’s 25-18 lead into a 30-30 halftime tie.
The Buffs never led again.
Wright scored five points to key a 9-0 Utah run to begin the second half. He and Loveridge took over as the Buffs collapsed. Colorado was incapable of making a shot after halftime; their only offense came from Scott getting to the free-throw line. He hit all nine of his attempts from the line, but he also turned the ball over four times.
The Buffs turned it over on five consecutive possessions early in the half. If they weren’t getting to the line, they weren’t scoring. Booker and sophomore guard Xavier Talton each shot just 1 of 8 from the floor, and Thomas, after his hot start, scored only one more point the rest of the game.
It wasn’t just that Colorado couldn’t score. The Buffs were incapable of even getting a quality shot against Utah’s surprisingly stifling defense. Colorado shot only 40 percent in the game, and the Utes couldn’t be stopped. They scored easily in transition off the Buffs’ endless string of misses and turnovers. Utah’s energy and Colorado’s lethargy made the score immaterial after the first five minutes of the second half.
Colorado’s final two games against Cal and Stanford are must-wins, and they’ll likely need a couple good wins in the Pac-12 Tournament to make it to the NCAA tournament.
Contact CU Independent Staff Writer Tommy Wood at Thomas.C.Wood@colorado.edu.