Going into Saturday’s regular season finale at Utah, the Colorado men’s basketball team was well aware that the Utes’ Justin Bibbins likes to shoot the 3.
The senior came into the night ranking second in the Pac-12 Conference in 3-pointers made (74) and 3-point percentage (44.3).
Knowing his strength and stopping it are two different things, however, and in the Buffaloes’ 64-54 loss at the Huntsman Center in Salt Lake City, they couldn’t stop him.
Bibbins scored a game-high 24 points, going 6-for-11 from 3-point range and 1-for-4 inside the arc.
“The game plan on Justin Bibbins was to take away his 3s and make him make tough 2s,” CU head coach Tad Boyle said. “Part of our problem is not understanding and not executing scouting reports. He’s not going to beat you taking 2s in the lane, but he can beat you making six 3s. That’s really frustrating for a team that has been doing a pretty good job executing game plans and listening to scouting reports this season, for the most part.”
Bibbins had a pair of 3s in the opening minutes and then went silent for much of the second half. When the Utes’ needed him most, however, he came through. He hit two more 3s in the final 2 minutes, 39 seconds to help Utah seal the win.
“He just came out on senior night ready to play,” CU’s McKinley Wright said. “We didn’t do a good job of finding him in transition and in the half court offense coming off screens. He made a couple tough ones, but we didn’t do a good job finding him.”
Schwartz steps up
Despite the loss, CU got a solid performance from freshman D’Shawn Schwartz. With six points and six rebounds – tying his season high – in 20 minutes, Schwartz had one of his best all-around games of the season.
“I just tried to get going a little bit,” he said. “I had a little bit more rebounds than normal and tried to show as much confidence as I could while I was out there.”
CU senior Dominique Collier took an elbow to the face from Utah’s Donnie Tillman late in the first half. He sat out the rest of the half, but did return to play four minutes in the second half.
“He’s doing fine,” Boyle said. “He took a good shot to the chin.”
After Collier was hit and went down to the floor, play continued, and Tillman scored a layup and drew a foul from Collier, who was still on the floor. Officials took a few minutes to review whether Tillman intentionally elbowed Collier, but determined he didn’t. Tillman got a 3-point play as part of Utah’s 14-0 run.
“Apparently (Collier) was in the other guy’s cylinder and it was a basketball play,” Boyle said of the explanation from officials. “I haven’t seen it on film, but I thought it was a foul when it happened.”
CU seemed to catch a break when Utah senior forward David Collette went out with an ankle injury just 6:48 into the game.
Collette never returned and statistically, the Buffs took advantage, with a 41-30 edge in rebounding and a 34-18 difference in points in the paint.
Boyle was disappointed, however, that the Buffs didn’t do a better job. They had six shots blocked in the first half, five after Collette went out.
“(Utah’s Chris Seeley) was just punching our stuff like it was a volleyball,” Boyle said. “When you have six blocked shots, that means you’re not making very good decisions at the rim. I thought when Collette went out, we could attack them and we did, but we couldn’t finish when we attacked them.”
CU finished with just five assists on 18 buckets. It was the second-lowest assist total of the year for the Buffs, and just the fourth time they’ve been in single digits. … The Buffs have lost six in a row at the Huntsman Center. … Wright has 426 points this season, the fourth-most ever by a CU freshman.