Colorado basketball coach Tad Boyle knew that adding Harvard to his early season schedule would be a test to see where the Buffaloes were after about 20 percent of the ledger. In the end, the 70-62 triumph answered several questions about the 6-1 Buffaloes who are a squad that can go deep into March.
“I didn’t want to make a big deal of it before the game, but we all know what college basketball is all about and what’s down the road,” said Boyle, “It’s too early to say if we have must wins on our schedule, but at the end of the year, we are going to have to have some good wins on our resume.”
This was one of those good wins as Harvard jumped to a 16-4 lead at the first media timeout and shot 53.6% in taking a 42-30 lead at halftime. The Crimson held the lead until the 5:03 mark when Xavier Johnson hit a triple to put CU up 53-52. This was the second time in the six-game winning streak that the Buffs had a major character check. Two weeks ago in a 63-58 win over Wyoming, the Buffs trailed the Cowboys by 10 late in the first half before Askia Booker and Spencer Dinwiddie keyed a 13-4 Buffs’ second-half run that gave them a 51-47 lead as they held off Wyoming at the line. The veteran leadership and depth on this team is already showing Colorado’s character which is a huge asset for Boyle.
“Our team’s got fight in it, there’s no doubt,” noted Boyle after Sunday’s win, “We’ve got competitors in that locker room, but what we have to understand is that it’s a 40-minutes game and some teams are going to come out hot like that.”
Colorado imposed its will as, defensively, CU held Harvard to 23.5% from the floor and only one made three-point shot in the second half. Sometimes it is who steps up on the defensive end to make plays instead of who takes and makes the key shots, as Boyle pointed out.
“I thought the difference in the game defensively, quite frankly, was Wesley Gordon and Josh Scott, in the second half,” explained Boyle, “They really clogged up the middle. They changed and altered shots. Harvard, like us, wants to attack the rim. They want to play inside out, like we do. And those guys defensively in the second half, were really good.”
Boyle saw what he had hoped for after Colorado limped into half, down 12. The defense picked up as the Buffs held Harvard to 10 points over the first 15 minutes of the second half. After defensively asserting themselves, Xavier Johnson and Spencer Dinwiddie nailed threes on three successive trips which once again showed maturity in a pressure packed situation, albeit in the Coors Events Center in Boulder.
“We were down nine at one of the timeouts, 50-41, and I said to the guys, ‘we do not have a nine point play; so, let’s not try to get all of this back at once. We have to do it by getting stops and hopefully getting some things in transition,’ and we did,” pinpointed Boyle, “Those threes came in transition and that was the difference in the game.”
Coaches like to have confidence in players stepping up in the clutch to win games on both ends. Boyle has a sophomore-junior dominated rotation that is now picking up it’s collective game and proving to be dauntless with Dinwiddie leading the attack from the backcourt and Sunday, he paced four Buffaloes in double figures with 17.
“Spencer has a good feel for the game and I trust him to make good decisions,” Boyle said, “He came off of screen and shot a three without getting inside. It was an open three but I trust him. I trust all of our players, but Spencer is a very calming influence on our team with the ball and on defense as well and he’s playing at a high level.”
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