If ever a game should finally make the Colorado Buffaloes understand the value of ball security, Thursday was it.
The Buffs failed in the team's most basic tenants of defense and rebounding against Pac-12 Conference cellar-dweller Washington State, allowing the Cougars to shoot .508 from the floor while getting outrebounded for just the fourth time this season.
But unlike CU's disastrous two-game excursion last week in Oregon, the Buffs took care of the ball. And, aside from George King's buzzer-beating 3-pointer at the end of the first overtime, that's probably the biggest reason why CU was able to escape with an 88-81 double-overtime victory.
"Against Oregon State out defense and rebounding was plenty good enough. We turned the ball over 24 times," CU head coach Tad Boyle said. "Tonight our defense and rebounding fails us. It wasn't good enough. We turned the ball over eight times. We've got to be more consistent. I think it gets back to concentration and execution."
It was just the sixth game this season in which the Buffs recorded less than 10 turnovers. Washington State's 18 turnovers was the second-most by a CU opponent this season, trailing only the 19 committed by Portland in the Buffs' third game of the year.
In addition to missing leading scorer and rebounder Josh Scott, who was sidelined Thursday due to an ankle injury suffered last week at Oregon State, the Buffs also played the bulk of the game without junior Tre'Shaun Fletcher.
Fletcher injured his ankle Wednesday at practice. Despite knocking down a 3-pointer in six minutes of action during the first half, the Fletcher clearly wasn't quite ready for the battle.
"I just said, 'If you're limping, I'm not going to play you,'" Boyle said. "He got beat off the dribble pretty bad and he starts limping down the floor. I said, 'Let's get it rested for Saturday.'"
With a noon tipoff set for Saturday against Washington, the Buffs will have little time to rest and hopefully get Fletcher and Scott back into the mix.
"(Scott) is day-to-day," Boyle said. "He's getting better every day. There's still some pain in there. Most of the swelling is gone, but there's some pain. Big guys, it takes a little bit longer sometimes with those ankles. Hopefully Fletch will be ready. Hopefully Josh will be ready. But I don't know."
Scott's absence due to an ankle injury marked was just the third missed game due to injury by a CU regular all season. Tory Miller missed the Jan. 3 game at Stanford due to a concussion and Thomas Akyazili missed last week's game at Oregon due to an ankle injury...Thursday was CU's first overtime game of the season...Wesley Gordon has recorded double-digit scoring efforts in consecutive games for the first time this season...CU attempted a season-most 40 free throws.