Sunday, January 26, 2020

No. 23 Colorado 76, Washington 62: Buffaloes bully bigger Huskies in Boulder

Photo Credit: Adam Chalifoux

By: Adam Chalifoux
Twitter: @FantasticMrFoux

BOULDER, CO— The No. 23 Colorado Buffaloes improved to 16-4 Saturday night against the visiting Washington Huskies, 76-62 Saturday night to improve to their best start since the 1996-97 season when they were led by then-sophomore guard, Chauncey Billups.

The Washington Huskies’ pre-game warmup included lobbing the ball off the backboard and slam dunking with contact from a body pad. It was clear that they planned to use their strength and size to their advantage against the smaller Colorado Buffaloes. As the adage goes, however, it's not the size of the fight in the dog, but the size of the fight in the dog. 

The Buffaloes proved to be the aggressors, hounding the Huskies and outhustling them to loose balls all night. Offensively, Colorado kept Washington moving with quick passing and excellent spacing, hitting their first five attempts from beyond the three-point line.

Leading 51-33, the Buffaloes shot 64 percent from deep on seven-of-11 shooting against one of the best defenses in the Pac-12 at the half. Washington adjusted well, however, switching to a 1-3-1 zone taking away passing lanes and shutting down the three-point barrage in the second half. After trailing by 20, the Huskies went on a 16-7 run to draw within 11. Tad Boyle called a timeout and the chess match was on. 

When Colorado tried to go inside, however, Isaiah Stewart was not having any of that. The 6-foot-10 freshman finished with a game-high four blocks. With Stewart shutting down the paint, and the shots not falling from deep, the Buffaloes defense stepped up once again, stealing the ball 12 times and scoring 22 points off 20 Washington turnovers.

Despite being the smaller team, Colorado outrebounded Washington 40-31; leading all rebounders for the Buffaloes was 6-foot junior, McKinley Wright IV with eight.

“You know my motto,” said Wright, “Heart over height…”

Junior forward Tyler Bey, who averages 9.3 rebounds per game only pulled down four in his first game back from his finger injury that sidelined him in Thursday’s contest says the Buffaloes work on the glass was a group effort.

“I think we rebounded as a team. McKinley had eight. D’Shawn (Schwartz) had six. We rebounded as a team. The guards did and the bigs did,” Bey said.

The Huskies’ best player Saturday night was Isaiah Stewart, who finished with 23 points and eight rebounds surely impressed the NBA scouts who were in attendance. The Buffaloes were led by Bey’s 16 points and Wright’s 15-point, eight-rebound performance.

Colorado is likely to take another step up in the rankings this week after winning both of its games this week and leading for 36 minutes against the Huskies. Despite the best start in over two decades, their best start since joining the Pac-12 in the 2011-12 season, coach Tad Boyle said that the team should not get complacent.

“We talked in the locker room,” said Boyle. “We should feel good about where we are right now but in no way shape or form, can we feel satisfied.”

Colorado’s next test will come against the UCLA Bruins in Los Angeles Thursday, while the Huskies will host Arizona. Despite their talented roster, the Washington Huskies are now 12-9 on the season and 2-6 in conference. Colorado meanwhile continues to demonstrate its depth and versatility as they move into the heart of conference play.