In a rare matinee affair the Buffaloes overcame a sluggish start defensively, as well as any lingering hangover effects following the football team’s Pac-12 South title clincher, to blow past Wofford.
Colorado put together an 11-0 run in the middle of the second half to finally create some separation between themselves and the Terriers, who up until that point had been nipping at CU’s heels. It was a lead that Colorado would maintain the rest of the way.
“It doesn’t matter who you’re playing, where you’re playing or when you’re playing, you have to be ready to go,” said head coach Tad Boyle. “We have to understand that. I wasn’t real pleased with our energy level in that first half, I thought it got much better in the second half.”
The Buffs were led by the efforts of Xavier Johnson who notched his 7th career double-double finishing with 27 points and 12 rebounds. Johnson helped keep the Terriers at bay in the second half, consistently getting to the free throw line and cleaning up the boards. Wofford had been outrebounding CU until the Buffs’ decisive second half run.
“I think X has played really, really unselfishly. He’s taken good shots and he had 27 points on 14 shots, that’s efficiency, that’s good,” said Boyle. “I really like the way he’s helping lead this team. One thing we know Xavier does night in and night out is he competes and I thought his competitiveness rubbed off on the other guys. We need that from everybody.”
For their part the Terriers acquitted themselves nicely, shooting 43% from the field and giving CU fits on the boards like few teams have. However, Colorado was able to make the difference in the paint, outscoring Wofford 38-18 down low and outrebounding the Terriers 19 to 11 in the second half. The all-around effort picked up in the second 20 minutes and was too much for the Terriers to combat.
“We continued to pressure them and they made some turnovers and their shots started to come up short,” said Johnson. “It’s just who wants to dominate, it’s will power. It’s who wants it.”
While Colorado did win by double digits, it wasn’t the complete effort Boyle expects from this team, and the fact that Wofford hung with CU on the boards for over half the game is a cause for concern. It remains an open question if the Buffs can consistently perform at the level they’ll need to when the caliber of competition increases.
“I don’t know if we’re there yet to be honest. We can easily do it, our starting five is 6’5” and up, we can all get 10 rebounds a game if we want to,” said Johnson. “At this point, like I said, it’s who wants it, who wants to compete, who wants to dominate. We’re not playing at that level yet, hopefully we will soon.”
The win moves CU to 5-1 on the young season and sets them up for a critical two weeks ahead with Colorado State and Xavier coming to Boulder. The Buffs know the rebounding and defense will have to be there on Wednesday night.
“When you get ready to play Colorado State, rebounding is the key against those guys. They are so well-schooled and well-coached in terms of going to the glass,” said Boyle. “We have to exert our will on the offensive glass, which in the second half we did a little bit better job but we only ended up with 6 offensive rebounds tonight and we missed 20 shots. We need a better ratio than that, certainly on Wednesday night because it’s going to be a blood bath inside.”
- 27 points ties Xavier Johnson’s career high achieved February 9th, 2014 against Washington. His 7 free throws made and 11 attempted tie career highs as well. This was his first double-double of the season.
- Colorado shot 56% from the field and 50% from behind the line. The Buffs finished with 13 assists to 12 turnovers and benefited from 17 points off of Wofford turnovers.