Buffs hang on at Washington State for road win

Contact CU Independent Men’s Basketball Writer Alissa Noe at alissa.noe@colorado.edu and follow her on Twitter @crazysportgirl1.

Despite going into a game against the worst team in the Pac-12 Conference on Saturday night, the “Cardiac Buffs” lived up to the nickname as they allowed Washington State to pull within one point of a tie with 23 seconds left before sealing the victory down the stretch, 75-70.

Toward the end of the first half the Buffs led by as much as 13 points in Pullman, Washington, but that lead was quickly squandered in the second when the Cougars came out fighting. After leading for the majority of the game, the Cougars briefly challenged the Buffs as they regained the advantage for a short time with 11 minutes remaining, 54-53.

Sophomore guard George King led the way for Colorado as he scored 22 points and grabbed five rebounds, followed by senior forward Josh Scott who added 11 and 8. The Buffs shot abysmally thanks to their second half performance, going 39.3 percent from the field (24-61) and 33.3 percent from the three (5-15).

They did, however, handle the ball uncharacteristically well as they only committed six turnovers to WSU’s 10.

Ike Iroegbu was a nightmare for the Buffaloes with 27 points, which was complemented by offense from Conor Clifford (18) and Josh Hawkinson (12). The rest of the team only scored a combined 13 points.

The Cougs shot much better than Colorado, going 49.1 percent from the field (26-53) but only 16.7 percent from deep (2-12).

For the first two and a half minutes of the game, the Buffs were stagnant on offense and defense as they allowed WSU to take a 9-3 lead. But with the Buffs not wanting a repeat of their pitiful defensive game at Washington just three days before, the slow start was all it took to kick the visiting team into gear.

The Buffaloes soon sparked a 16-0 run for nearly seven minutes, going up as much as 23-11. The Cougars spent the next few minutes cutting back at the lead, but with three minutes left in the first, the Buffs improved on their previous advantage with 13 points, 35-22.

At the half, CU led 39-32 after a good defensive performance and strong offensive showing.

For the half, the Buffs shot 41.9 percent from the field (13-31) while adding 3-7 from downtown (42.9 percent) and 10 free throws in 13 attempts. King led the way with 13 points and three rebounds, but the biggest news from the stat sheet was the Buffaloes’ single turnover and nine points off of WSU’s five TOs. CU usually commits around 14 a game, mostly in the first half.

The Cougs shot better, but they didn’t get as many shots off with 13-26 from the field and 1-6 from the three point range (16.7 percent). Conor Clifford led the team with 11 points, but Josh Hawkinson shined as he scored seven and grabbed six boards.

Eight minutes into the second half, WSU cut the lead down to just one point, 51-50, after shooting 80 percent to Colorado’s 36 percent, but the Buffs were only able to stay on top for the next few seconds before Iroegbu nailed a three-pointer to tie up the game at 53 with 12 minutes remaining.

They promptly lost that lead with a made free throw from WSU.

The Buffs quickly regained the lead, but nearly gave it up again with just 23 seconds left when the Cougs pulled within one point, 71-70. Thanks to a series of desperation fouls on Washington State’s part and successful free throws from senior guard Xavier Talton and King down the stretch, the Buffs were able to pull out a valuable road win in a competitive Pac-12 Conference, 75-70.

The Buffaloes return to their home court on Wednesday, Jan. 27 as they take on the Stanford Cardinal at 7 p.m. The game will be broadcast on the Pac-12 Networks.

Alissa Noe

Alissa Noe is a journalism student at the University of Colorado with an emphasis in sports. She is currently the assistant sports editor and men's basketball beat writer, and enjoys nothing more than college sports during the school year.

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