CU Buffs top Washington State, remain unbeaten in Pac-12
Brown's 28 points lead Colorado over Cougars
By Ryan Thorburn Buffzone.com
01/07/2012 05:05:46 PM MST
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The Buffs have certainly made themselves at home in the Pac-12.
Colorado was able to stay unbeaten in the new conference and remains alone at the top of the standings after a 71-60 victory over Washington State on Saturday at the Coors Events Center.
Tad Boyle's streaking team, especially the seniors, pointed out after their sixth consecutive win that CU's 3-0 start in Big 12 play last January didn't punch their ticket to the NCAA Tournament in March.
"I think it's at an even keel because we've been here," Carlon Brown said of the Buffs' confidence level. "We're just hoping to have a better finish and crack that tournament bid at the end."
Brown finished with 28 points, seven rebounds, two assists, two steals and a block in his most impressive game at CU. The Utah transfer missed six 3-pointers in the first half but came out of the locker room and made three quick shots behind the arc during a 13-3 run.
That finally forced the Cougars (9-7, 1-3) to switch out of their zone defense.
"I felt like all my shots were there in the first half," Brown said. "The guys told me to keep shooting and they found me when I was open. I just had to keep confidence in myself because they were playing zone and the only way to get them out of a zone is to make shots. I think I did that, and the rest of the team did as well."
Washington State was able to hold the home team to eight fast-break points, but a transition layup by Nate Tomlinson gave CU a 45-27 cushion.
Andre Roberson's 3-pointer with 11:19 remaining provided the Buffs with their largest lead (55-33)."We thought zone was the way to play, even though statistically speaking it might not be," Washington State head coach Ken Bone said. "But we had decent success in the first half when they scored 32 (points) and shot 20 percent from the 3-point line.
"So we tried it in the second half and obviously they hit some shots and they weathered the storm. They were the better team (Saturday)."
The Cougars, coming off a difficult 62-60 overtime loss at Utah on Thursday, came to life with an 8-0 run midway through the second half.
A basket by Faisal Aden capped a 10-1 surge and cut the Washington State deficit to single digits (65-57) with 2:40 remaining.
CU made enough free throws down the stretch to stave off the visitors.
"It's a lot different," Tomlinson said of playing with this year's blooming roster as opposed to the 2010-11 squad that featured closers like Cory Higgins and Alec Burks. "You can't really relax out there. We don't have much room for mistakes this year. We were up 20 earlier in the game then they hit a couple shots and it got down to eight.
"So we just can't relax with this team."
Austin Dufault added 17 points and Tomlinson chipped in with 11 points, three assists and no turnovers.
CU's bench, a strength lately, was out-scored 32-5. Askia Booker accounted for the five points but was 2-for-6 shooting.
The senior class accounted for 56 points on 18-for-29 shooting with 13 rebounds, six assists and four turnovers.
"Our seniors were terrific tonight," Boyle said. "I kind of called them out a little bit in Puerto Rico and said, 'Hey, you need to play like seniors.' ... Our young guys weren't as good tonight as they've been, but our seniors stepped up."
The Buffs shot 46.9 percent from the field and held Washington State to 36.5 percent.
CU led 32-24 at halftime despite a 3-for-15 effort from 3-point distance.
Dufault, who didn't take a shot behind the arc, was 5-for-5 from the field and led all scorers with 12 points at the break. He finished 7-for-9 shooting with four rebounds.
"I think we're getting more and more confidence playing against a zone," said Dufault, who scored eight points during an 11-0 run that gave CU a 23-11 head start. "I just knew the inside of the zone had a lot of holes and gaps I could sneak into."
Even though Roberson, the Pac-12's leading rebounder, was on the bench with foul trouble in the first half and finished with only eight boards, CU out-cleaned Washington State on the glass (35-31).
"I think Andre is pressing a little bit too much offensively. He's thinking too much," Boyle said after the 6-7 forward went 2-for-7 from the field with five points and three turnovers. "He's a guy that needs to let the game come to him. ... I'd like, in a perfect world, to get him 10 or 12 shots a game. But zones make it tough."
After finishing 7-1 during a month-long home stand, CU will pack a six-game winning streak for its first Pac-12 road trip next week against Cal and Stanford.
This is the first time CU has opened consecutive conference seasons 3-0 since the 1961-62 and 1962-63 campaigns. ... The Buffs lead the series with Washington State 2-1. CU does not make the return trip to Pullman this season in the Pac-12's unbalanced schedule. ... Brown's 28 points were the most scored by a CU player this season.
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