The Huskies overcame a six-point first half deficit, and possibly their worst half of basketball to knock off the Buffaloes 52-50 in Boulder on Thursday night. They won in thrilling fashion as Andrew Andrews knocked down the go-ahead jumper with 0.3 seconds left on the clock. This was by no means Andrews' best game, he went just 3-12 from the floor, and while he deserves some credit for being one of the few Husky players to attack the rim confidently, he was never able to get into a rhythm.
Despite his struggles throughout the night Andrews came up huge in the clutch. With 34 seconds left in the game, Colorado had the ball in the hands of sophomore guard Jaron Hopkins and a chance to take the lead, possibly for good. Andrews was checking Hopkins, and the Buffs were able to temporarily free him with a ball screen, however Andrews recovered and made a phenomenal play on the ball, reaching in from behind and poking the it free. He finished the play by falling on the loose ball and forcing a jump ball, which gave the Huskies possession and the ability to take the last shot of the game. His game winning jump shot was the biggest play of the game, but I'd argue this defensive play was just as important.
There were not very many bright spots for the Huskies outside of Andrews' late game heroics. They failed to shoot the ball from three yet again, knocking down just 25% of their threes (4-16) and their offense was anemic for much of the game, as they shot just 35% from the floor and failed to convert from the field for the first seven minutes of the first half.
Tonight was not exactly the best game for the Huskies front court. Robert Upshaw picked up two early fouls in the first half of the game and it really seemed to affect his rhythm for the rest of the game. He missed two bunnies, a point blank lay up and dunk, though to be fair, the dunk attempt was highly contested. He finished with just four points, six rebounds and just two blocks, two and half less than his season average of 4.5
Kemp Jr.shook of his sluggish first half start and finished the game with 9 points on 4-8 from the field.
The Huskies got outrebounded by five for the game. To be fair, the Huskies did play 2-3 zone almost exclusively, which makes rebounding more difficult and puts more of an emphasis on the team as a whole to rebound than the big men. Still, it has to be rather disappointing for the coaching staff to see their big men get outplayed considering that Colorado was without their starting front court players Josh Scott (back) and Xavier Johnson (suspension).
Nigel WIlliams-Goss overcame a tough start and some uncharacteristically wild first half turnovers, and turned in another solid performance. He finished the game with 16 points on 7-18 shooting, and also added four rebounds. He only added two assists failed to connect on any of his four three point shots and coughed the ball up three times, but Goss seemed to get comfortable in the second half and it showed. His energy picked up, and his teammates seemed to follow his lead. It is no coincidence that the Huskies' poor play at the beginning of the first half coincided with Goss' slow start. Nor is it a coincidence that their played improved in the second half when Goss started to play well. Unfortunately for him, the Huskies can ill afford him to have an off night, because it seems as if the Huskies will go only as far as their floor general can take them.
Donaven Dorsey provided one half of productive basketball tonight, and was one of the lone bright spots on the offensive end for the Huskies in the first half, knocking down two impressive threes. He struggled in the second half however, missing all three of his three point attempts, and jacking a few questionable shots, so basically he looked like a freshman in the second half. Still Dorsey's mere presence on the floor is very refreshing for the Husky offense, as he provides more spacing than any other player on the team. Mike Andersen is a very solid shooter, but he is too reluctant to strike enough fear into the defense to change their game plan. Dorsey showed tonight (and basically every other game this season) that he isn't scared to jack it from deep, and he is able to make enough of his attempts that the defense has to respect him.
Dorsey was the only player to come off the bench tonight. Darin Johnson was dressed for the game and seemed to be available for the game, but did not play. Junior guard Quevyn Winters recorded his first DNP of the season this year, as his struggles continue. Jernard Jarreau's injury has forced Upshaw into the starting lineup and hurt the depth of this team, but it is concerning that Romar does not feel comfortable enough to give Johnson or Winters any playing time in a pivotal road conference game. I haven't heard anything about Johnson's injury, so for all I know he may still be recovering from his injury and is not ready to play. Not to mention that Upshaw and Kemp Jr. are the only two true big men that are able to contribute to Pac-12 games (Sorry Giiles Dierickx).The Huskies depth issue isn't going anywhere and will most like be something the Huskies have to overcome on a nightly basis.
While the Huskies defense did a good job overall, holding Colorado to just 31.7% from the field and 26.7% from deep, their zone seemed to be sluggish at time. They allowed the Buffs to move the ball from station to station at times, and Hopkins was able to penetrate and either dunk, lay the ball in, or free his teammates for the majority of the night. Can't complain too much when the Huskies hold a team to 31% shooting from the field, but they will need to tighten up their zone before their match up with Utah on Sunday night, or else Delon Wright may have a field day.
This was by no means the Huskies' best game of the year, and they seemed to take some steps backwards on offense after their encouraging and exciting win over Oregon on Saturday. But the fact of the matter is, the Huskies went into one of the toughest environments in the Pac-12, struggled on offense for most of the night, and they stayed composed and came away with a huge road win. It means something when a team can figure out a way to win despite playing poorly, especially when on the road, and that is what the Huskies did tonight. They now find themselves in the midst of a three game winning streak, and have are set up to challenge the No.15 Utes on Sunday.