FORT COLLINS -- Two years ago it was free throws. Tuesday night it was the 3-point shot. The Colorado Buffaloes can't shoot in Fort Collins.
In the first big test of the season at Moby Arena against pesky Colorado State, the Buffs hoisted 19 shots from behind the arc and made just three.
And yet they still managed to escape with a 67-62 victory thanks to the poise, leadership and, yes, bravado of Spencer Dinwiddie.
CU coach Tad Boyle called his junior point guard the best player on the floor Tuesday, "and it wasn't even close," Boyle added.
CSU coach Larry Eustachy noted the Dinwiddie is a "good talker" but that he backed it up with 28 points, 19 of which came in the second half. There is no greater frustration for a losing team, especially in a rivalry, to lose because of a big performance from the guy who makes your blood boil.
Dinwiddie is a sports writer's dream, and I've heard CU fans like him, too.
He's smart. He likes to talk and he's not afraid of saying the kinds of things most athletes and coaches shy away from because they're afraid of ending up on the other team's bulletin board. Do they still use those in 2013?
For the second year in a row, Dinwiddie turned in a gem against the Rams, a team he respects, but a rival he despises. Dinwiddie's contempt for green and gold comes from being mooned by a childish Rams fan at the 2012 football game between the two schools.
Two wins, 57 points and a handful of sweet finger rolls later, Dinwiddie gets the last laugh.
In the final seconds with his backcourt mate Askia Booker at the free throw line needing to make just one to seal the victory, Dinwiddie watched from near midcourt. When the first free throw splashed through nylon, Dinwiddie turned and walked toward the CSU student section saying something that clearly had a little juice behind it.
Here is how he explained it.
"I was in a very, very, very polite manner, going to the student section, who was heckling me constantly during the game, and telling them to please be quiet, and that we just won the ballgame and that they have nothing to say to me because we just won the ballgame," Dinwiddie said with a massive grin.
Some might take issue with calling this the first big test this year. The Buffs did start the season against a ranked Baylor team and they did host an excellent Harvard team. But those games weren't played in this kind of hostile atmosphere.
The Rams faithful were spitting venom with the best of them, and, at times, Dinwiddie spit it right back.
This could have been an ugly baptism for the four true freshmen and one redshirt freshman that played in the game for the Buffs. It was definitely the first environment with this kind of intensity they have experienced in their careers.
"It was a tough atmosphere to play in," said freshman Jaron Hopkins after hitting two huge 3-pointers late in the second half. "I'll look forward to playing in more atmospheres like that."
Before Hopkins hit those two 3-pointers, the Buffs had gone 1-for-17 from behind the arc.
But Dinwiddie seemed to recognize his team needed a different approach. He began attacking the basket and rolled in a few layups. He also got to the foul line and made all 11 of his attempts.
The Rams hit some big shots of their own, but more often than not Dinwiddie would charge back down court into the lane and take the volume down a notch in the arena.
It doesn't always happen that the best player in the game plays the best game. It was exactly the kind of performance Boyle needed from his best player, a guy who many believe will be playing in the NBA at this time next year.
Dinwiddie seemed like he had a lot of fun from beginning to end Tuesday when he was standing behind a cameraman who was interviewing Hopkins doing his best to make his young teammate smile or lose his composure. It was the only thing that didn't go his way.
Considering how much fun he seemed to be having, I asked Dinwiddie if he'd like to play the Rams one more time before his college career ends.
"No, 2-1 is good enough," he said.
It hasn't been this much fun watching a Buff have this much fun on the hardwood since David Harrison roamed the paint in black and gold.