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Momentum wasters: CU Buffs men’s basketball falls flat against Boise State

Colorado's Lawson Lovering, center, holds possession between Boise State defenders on Sunday in Myrtle Beach, S.C. (Myrtle Beach Invitational/courtesy photo)
Colorado’s Lawson Lovering, center, holds possession between Boise State defenders on Sunday in Myrtle Beach, S.C. (Myrtle Beach Invitational/courtesy photo)

CONWAY, S.C. — The Colorado men’s basketball team already has proven it can go toe-to-toe with some of the top programs in the nation.

The Buffaloes also have displayed a maddening habit of being unable to get out of their own way.

CU continued its early-season trend of alternating big wins with frustrating losses, this time dropping a 68-55 decision against Boise State on Sunday night in the finale of the Myrtle Beach Invitational. The defeat left CU with a 2-3 record during a five-game, two-week road trip while compiling that mark in the most unlikely fashion, defeating nationally-ranked Tennessee and Texas A&M rather handily while losing to Grambling State, UMass and the Broncos.

“We don’t know how to respond,” CU point guard KJ Simpson said. “We’re good when we’re up and we have shots falling and we’re moving the ball and everything is going good on the offensive end. But when shots don’t fall, we’re just not responding. Boise State, they shot the ball pretty good, but it wasn’t crazy enough that it allowed them to kill us. We didn’t have no fight at all. That’s why they deserved to win.”

The Buffs (3-3) never led after the opening moments, as Boise State used a combination of good looks while also knocking down tough shots to build a 41-33 halftime lead. As was the case for CU’s opponents in its other two losses, the Broncos shot over 51% in the first half (.515, 17-for-33) while going 7-for-13 on 3-pointers.

Colorado's Julian Hammond III tried to seal the lane on defense against Boise State during their game Sunday , Nov. 20, 2022 in Myrtle Beach, S.C. (Myrtle Beach Invitational/courtesy photo)
Colorado’s Julian Hammond III tried to seal the lane on defense against Boise State during their game Sunday in Myrtle Beach, S.C. (Myrtle Beach Invitational/courtesy photo)

Boise State’s Tyson Degenhart ended the first half with a 3-pointer and started the second half the same way, extending the Broncos’ lead to 11 points. CU got to within 50-44 on a Jalen Gabbidon 3-pointer midway through the second half, but the Buffs got no closer the rest of the way. Boise State entered the contest with a .270 mark on 3-pointers (20-for-74) during its 2-2 start to the season.

Two days after lighting it up against Texas A&M, the Buffs struggled from 3-point range (4-for-20) and at the free throw line (13-for-23). Boise State outrebounded CU 40-39, but it was 13 offensive rebounds by the Broncos that made the biggest difference and left head coach Tad Boyle scratching his head afterward.

“We have to get tougher. We wilt like flowers when people get into us,” Boyle said. “We start feeling sorry for ourselves. We start listening to referees. We start listening to fans. We aren’t tough enough mentally. We aren’t tough enough physically. UMass climbed up into us and we couldn’t handle it, we couldn’t finish. And Boise State did the same thing.

“They’re not listening to their coach. We’re so poorly coached right now, it makes me want to puke because we are not living up to our end of the bargain when it comes to wearing the Colorado basketball uniform. Our players need to understand that. Any former player that watched this game tonight, they should be ashamed with the toughness that we (had).”

CU played its second game without leading rebounder J’Vonne Hadley, who suffered a right shoulder injury in the Myrtle Beach opener against UMass on Thursday. The Buffs lost junior forward Tristan da Silva early in the second half after he absorbed a blow to his head.  Simpson suffered a late ankle injury when his leg was rolled in a scramble for a loose ball, but he did return to the floor and finished with a team-high 14 points.

“They made seven 3s in the first half. Our goal is to limit them to six or fewer in the game,” Boyle said. “They had six offensive rebounds in the first half. We want to limit them to six or fewer in the game. So by halftime they had as many threes as we want to give up and as many offensive rebounds as we want to give up for the game. We gave up seven points on offensive rebounds and 21 from three. You’re not going to beat anybody like that.”

Snapshot: CU Buffs vs. Boise State

Turning point: CU got within six midway through the second half, but the Broncos outscored the Buffs by seven the rest of the way.

Buff of the game: KJ Simpson. It was slim pickings this time, but Simpson finished with 14 points, five rebounds and four assists.

What’s next?: The Buffs will have a week to practice and prepare of a Nov. 27 home game against Yale.

Boise St. 68, Colorado 55

da Silva 4-8 1-2 9, Lovering 0-0 1-2 1, Clifford 3-8 2-3 8, Gabbidon 1-4 1-2 4, Simpson 6-13 2-3 14, Hammond 1-3 1-2 4, Wright 2-4 2-3 6, Ruffin 2-10 1-2 7, O’Brien 0-3 2-4 2. Totals 19-53 13-23 55.

BOISE ST. (3-2)

Degenhart 4-11 4-4 14, N.Smith 5-7 0-0 10, Agbo 3-10 1-2 7, M.Rice 2-8 0-1 5, Shaver 6-18 5-8 20, Milner 2-3 2-2 6, Whiting 1-3 0-0 3, NgaNga 0-0 0-0 0, Kuzmanovic 1-2 0-0 3, Sylla 0-0 0-0 0, Young 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 24-62 12-17 68.

Halftime — Boise St. 41-33. 3-point field goals — Colorado 4-20 (Ruffin 2-7, Hammond 1-2, Gabbidon 1-3, O’Brien 0-1, Clifford 0-2, da Silva 0-2, Simpson 0-3), Boise St. 8-23 (Shaver 3-8, Degenhart 2-6, Kuzmanovic 1-1, Whiting 1-2, M.Rice 1-3, N.Smith 0-1, Agbo 0-2). Fouled Out — N.Smith. Rebounds — Colorado 39 (Lovering 6), Boise St. 40 (Shaver 10). Assists — Colorado 9 (Simpson 4), Boise St. 8 (M.Rice 3). Total Fouls — Colorado 20, Boise St. 22. A — 1,281.


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