Kyle Ringo
Kyle Ringo
Xavier Johnson made three highlight reel dunks in the first half Thursday night against Stanford, but the best player on the court at the Coors Events Center was Andre Roberson.

It wasn't even close.

During the first 20 minutes, there wasn't anybody on either team playing with the same intensity. Roberson snagged three rebounds in the first minute and had 11 by halftime. He finished the game with 20, tying his career high. He was a force Stanford seemed to have no answer for in a pivotal game for both teams.

Roberson competed for every ball. He leaped over Cardinal players to get them and at one point knocked two of his teammates to the floor going over their backs to make sure he secured a rebound. He made a 3-pointer, made both his free throw attempts in the first half and made two steals.

"I thought Andre was a beast," CU coach Tad Boyle said.

The Buffs played one of their best halves of the season collectively to take a 15-point halftime lead and it was Roberson who provided the energy and the leadership while limiting Stanford forward Dwight Powell to five points and three rebounds. No small accomplishment.

The question that came to mind after watching Roberson clearly dominate 20 minutes of basketball was this: Where has this guy been all season?

If Roberson played like this more consistently, he would be in contention for the Pac-12 Conference Player of the Year award, but he too often has less noteworthy performances.


He is always one of the best rebounders in the nation and he never takes possessions off on the defensive end, but he seemed to be operating on a different level when it came to the intensity and mental focus against the Cardinal.

Roberson said he took it upon himself to set the tone against Stanford after experiencing two blowout loss to the Cardinal last season. CU fans should be encouraged by that leadership. It's the same stuff that led Roberson and Sabatino Chen to call a players only team meeting a week ago when things justdidn't feel right to them after a 1-3 start in conference play.

"I thought he was outstanding tonight, especially on the boards," Stanford coach Johnny Dawkins said. "Twenty rebounds. I mean, what can you say? When a young man gets 20 rebounds in a 40-minute game. That takes effort and a lot of energy and it says a lot about that kid."

When the Buffs began to fade a bit midway through the second half Thursday and the crowd became restless looking for something to cheer about, Roberson stepped into the lane and blocked a shot. He grabbed a rebound in ferocious fashion moments later and delivered a nice outlet pass that led to a 3-pointer from Askia Booker on the other end.

The fans were standing once again and the decibel level probably made some eardrums ring.

ESPN analyst and former Arizona star Miles Simon had this to say after watching Roberson take over the game.

"High school kids should watch him," Simon said. "He's a great example of a guy who affects the game without scoring a lot of points. You don't have to score a lot to affect the game and too many young players think you do. He dominated this game without scoring a lot."

Roberson seemed to fade a bit toward the end when the game was in hand. He made a couple bad passes, missed a jump shot badly and made just one of four free throws late in the game. He still received a well-deserved standing ovation when Tad Boyle took him out of the game with 1 minute, 36 seconds remaining.

There are nights when he plays a higher percentage of the game with the fleeting focus he had at the foul line late Thursday. Boyle said that will change with maturity. When that happens, watch out. No one will be questioning whether he's an NBA first round draft pick then.

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