Teams aren’t supposed to win games in which they shoot 4-of-18 from the foul line but don’t tell that to Colorado, who did just enough to hold off No. 16 Baylor 60-58 in a Charleston Classic semifinal.
Askia Booker scored 16 of his team-best 19 points in the first half and both freshman Josh Scott and junior Andre Roberson picked up their play in the second half to help the Buffaloes earn a spot in Sunday’s title game.
Spencer Dinwiddie scored 11 points but his biggest contribution may have come on the defensive end, where he was the primary defender assigned to Baylor point guard Pierre Jackson. Jackson finished the game with 12 points on 3-of-11 shooting from the field (1-of-6 3PT).
Cory Jefferson led Baylor, who beat Colorado by 17 in the NCAA tournament last season, with 17 points but the Bears were unable to take advantage of Colorado’s poor foul shooting and 17 turnovers.
Colorado’s victory, while the team did dedicate it to last year’s senior class according to Dinwiddie, was also a big one for the Pac-12 as a whole. The conference went a dreadful 0-11 in games against ranked opponents last season, so getting off the schneid this early in the season should be seen as a positive.
Tad Boyle’s team was picked in the preseason Pac-12 media poll to finish sixth in the conference, but even before today’s result that may have been low.
The Buffs are young when considering the fact that a number of their key contributors are underclassmen, but players such as Booker, Dinwiddie, Scott and Xavier Johnson are only going to get better as the season wears on.
Add in a veteran guard in Sabatino Chen and a Pac-12 Player of the Year possibility in Roberson and you’ve got a team that at the very least should be in the NCAA tournament conversation.
Despite the gulf placed between favorites Arizona and UCLA and the rest of the conference by many, there’s no reason to rule out teams such as Colorado, California, Stanford or USC.
Titles aren’t won in November, but many teams are able to look back to this month as a catalyst when they reach those goals in March. Colorado hopes to be able to make that claim as well.