TEMPE, Ariz. — The home loss against Northern Iowa on Dec. 10 provided a painful lesson for the Colorado Buffaloes. Yet it is one the Buffs seemingly have taken to heart.
In that setback against Northern Iowa, the Panthers went 14-for-26 on 3-pointers to stun the Buffs in Boulder. That night, head coach Tad Boyle criticized a defensive effort that was supposed to be centered on running UNI off the 3-point line.
The Buffs haven’t allowed many good looks from the arc since.
In a 68-61 road win at Arizona State on Thursday night, the Buffs once again made life difficult for opposing jump shooters, with the Sun Devils finishing 6-for-23 on 3-pointers. Two of those six made 3-pointers for ASU came in the final minute with the game nearly out of reach.
The performance continued a dominant trend since the Northern Iowa game, with the Buffs holding their past eight opponents since that UNI loss to a .226 mark (35-for-155) on 3-pointers.
”It’s our guys taking the game plan, and understanding who are shooters and who isn’t,” CU head coach Tad Boyle said. “We knew that (Kimani) Lawrence is a good shooter, a capable shooter. We knew (Alonzo) Verge, he hit 43 against Washington State. The guy can score, but he struggles from three. Our guys understanding those kinds of things, and understanding we have to be in the gap on Remy (Martin) and make everything tough for him at the rim, or even jump shots.
“Six is our number. We want six or fewer threes. They got six tonight and a couple of those came late that were tough ones. I was really pleased with our defense.”
The Buffs were outrebounded for just the fourth time this season, and the first time since that same Northern Iowa loss on Dec. 10. ASU had enjoyed the rebounding advantage in just four of its previous 16 games but posted a 42-40 edge against a Buffs team that entered the game leading the Pac-12 in average rebounding margin.
“We talk about all five guys have to help us rebound the ball. Five guys have to rebound,” Boyle said. “It’s not just Tyler (Bey). It’s not just Evan (Battey). It’s not just Lucas (Siewert). All five guys have to rebound. And our guards did not, in my opinion, rebound like they’re capable of tonight. We talked that long shots equal long rebounds. And the long rebounds came to Arizona State too many times. Sometimes you have to win ugly on the road, and that’s what we did.”
The Buffs surrendered a season-high 17 offensive rebounds but, in a nod to CU’s stellar defense, the Buffs still enjoyed a 10-8 advantage on second-chance points. CU has posted an edge in that category in 15 of 17 games.
It was an emotional night for CU assistant Anthony Coleman, who spent the previous three seasons as an assistant on Bobby Hurley’s staff at ASU.
“All the credit goes to the players,” Coleman said. “But this one feels good.”
Shane Gatling went 2-for-4 on 3-pointers and is 6-for-14 (.429) over the past three games. After reaching double-figure points just once in the first 14 games, Gatling’s 10 points at ASU gave him two double-digit scoring efforts in the past three games…CU has posted more turnovers than assists just once in the past seven games. The Buffs had more turnovers than assists in eight of the first 10 games. They finished with 13 assists and 13 turnovers at ASU.