What went right: The Buffs actually hit their defensive targets, holding CSU to a .385 field goal percentage and outrebounding the Rams 46-37.
What went wrong: Turnovers, plus poor shooting at the free throw line and from 3-point range. CU's nine first-half turnovers led to a 14-4 advantage for the Rams in points off turnovers. CU went 17-for-31 on free throws and 3-for-19 on 3-pointers.
Star of the game: Difficult to pick one from the Buffs. Derrick White paced CU with 17 points, but he shot 5-for-15 and committed four turnovers.
What's next: The Buffs will play their first true road game of the season Saturday at 8 p.m. MST at the University of Portland.
Over the past 38 nonconference home dates hosted by the Colorado men's basketball team, the Buffaloes have lost just twice.
That's a ratio any team likely would take in a heartbeat. Yet when both those defeats occur at the hands of your in-state rival, the luster of that 36-2 mark is dimmed somewhat.
For the second time in three seasons the Colorado State Rams stunned the faithful at the Coors Events Center, using a torrid performance at the free throw line to steadily pull away before handing the Buffs a 72-58 defeat.
"I'll take the blame for this. Our guys obviously weren't ready to play," CU head coach Tad Boyle said. "You've got to find a way to win this game ugly. Colorado State makes the game ugly. They're a very physical team. I've got a lot of respect for them. But you've got to win ugly sometimes and we weren't mentally tough enough to win ugly tonight. We got our heads down. They stayed down. We didn't have anybody who could pick us up and make a play."
For the first 12 minutes it appeared the Buffs were well-positioned to put together a solid all-around performance. CU led for much of that duration, with a driving layup from Derrick White giving CU a 19-13 lead with eight minutes remaining in the first half.
However, the Rams outscored the Buffs 17-8 the rest of the period to take a 30-27 lead into halftime. CSU opened the second half with a 10-4 run to push its lead to nine points, forcing the Buffs to scramble for the remainder of the contest.
CU cut the deficit to four on several occasions midway through the second half, the final time occurring with about 5 minutes, 30 seconds left on a basket by Wesley Gordon. Yet it was the Rams who remained poised down the stretch, outscoring the Buffs 20-10 the rest of the way.
"It's just another loss under our belt. No matter who it is, it's a loss," Gordon said. "We lost to a team we should've beat. If you don't come out to play, that's going to happen every night."
The Buffs actually reached their standard defensive goals, holding CSU to a .385 mark from the field while outrebounding the Rams 46-37. But CU committed nine turnovers in the first half, leading to a 14-4 advantage for CSU in points off turnovers, and the miscues became too frequent to overcome a poor shooting night.
The top team in the Pac-12 Conference last year in both free throw shooting and 3-point shooting, CU finished just 17-for-31 at the free throw line and went 3-for-19 from 3-point range.
At the defensive end, the Buffs allowed several CSU players to excel well past their season averages. The Rams' top scorer, Emmanuel Omogbo, entered the game with a 2-for-12 mark from 3-point range but went 2-for-2 against CU before finishing with 16 points. And 6-foot-11 redshirt freshman Nico Carvacho arrived in Boulder with averages of 5.5 points and 4.3 rebounds, yet he recorded 14 points and nine rebounds Wednesday.
The Rams made their first 18 free throw attempts and finished 26-for-33.
Derrick White led the Buffs with 17 points, but he shot just 5-for-15. With four turnovers apiece, White and George King accounted for eight of CU's 14 turnovers.
"Obviously a disappointing night for Buffaloes basketball," Boyle said. "We let an opportunity slip away that we'll never have back. Congratulate Colorado State and coach (Larry) Eustachy and their program. They came in here and were tougher than us and outplayed us. They deserved to win. We didn't. Very, very disappointing for what we've done up to this point."
Colorado State 72, Colorado 58
At Coors Events Center
Colorado State (6-1)
Jackson 0-4 0-0 0, Omogbo 4-10 6-8 16, Carvacho 5-7 3-3 14, Nixon 1-9 3-4 5, Paige 3-7 3-4 11, Butler 4-6 4-4 13, Bob 1-4 5-8 7, Bonner 2-5 2-2 6, Koelliker 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 20-52 26-33 72.
Gordon 4-10 3-7 11, Johnson 1-7 4-9 6, White 5-15 5-5 17, King 1-6 3-4 5, Fortunue 4-7 0-0 9, Akyazili 2-4 1-1 5, Brown 0-2 0-0 0, Peters 0-4 1-2 1, Siewert 0-0 0-0 0.
3-point field goals — CSU: Omogbo 2-2, Paige 2-5, Butler 1-2, Jackson 0-1, Nixon 0-2, Bonner 0-2; CU: White 2-4, Fortune 1-3, Johnson 0-4, King 0-2, Akyazili 0-1, Brown 0-2, Peters 0-2, Siewert 0-1. Rebounds— CSU: 37 (Carvacho 9); CU: 46 (Gordon 9). Assists — CSU 8 (Omogbo 2): CU: 9 (Brown 3).Total fouls — CSU: 27; CU: 28. Fouled out — Carvacho, Johnson, Fortune. A — 8,715.