Spencer Dinwiddie, Angelo Chol, Mark Lyons, Nick Johnson

Colorado will ultimately go as far as Spencer Dinwiddie takes them

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During pregame warmups for tonight’s game between No. 9 Arizona and Colorado someone posted the score “Colorado 3, Arizona 0” on the scoreboard. That obviously is in reference to the Sabatino Chen three-pointer that was waved off at the end of regulation in Arizona’s 92-83 overtime win in the first meeting between the two teams.

The Buffaloes were fired up for the rematch and the play of Spencer Dinwiddie and Xavier Johnson played a major role in their ability to even the score.

Dinwiddie gave the Wildcats fits in ball screen situations for much of the night, finishing with 21 points and seven assists, and Johnson added 19 to go along with nine rebounds in the 71-58 victory in Boulder.

As a result of the victory the Buffaloes took a major step towards ensuring their second consecutive trip to the NCAA tournament while also keeping them within two games of first place in the Pac-12 standings.

Colorado made sure Arizona had no chance of making another improbable rally due to their execution on both ends of the floor. The Buffaloes shot 50% from the field and 9-of-17 from beyond the arc, and defensively they limited Arizona to 42.3% shooting (and 5-of-19 from three). Solomon Hill led the Wildcats with 12 points and Mark Lyons added 11, with Colorado making them work for every basket.

Xavier Johnson entered Thursday’s game averaging of 7.7 points per game, and the matchup with Arizona is a good one for the 6-6 freshman forward. In the first meeting he finished with 13 points and six rebounds, and he was even more productive in the rematch while also cutting down on the freshman mistakes that were an issue back in January.

But if this current run of six wins in their last seven games shows anything it’s the importance of Dinwiddie, who scored 25 points despite dealing with foul trouble on Sunday night to push Colorado past Oregon State. Over the last seven games Dinwiddie is averaging 16.4 points and 4.0 assists while shooting 52.6% from the field.

Players such as Johnson, Andre Roberson (seven points, 13 rebounds), Askia Booker (ten points) and Josh Scott are important cogs in the Colorado attack, but the Buffaloes will ultimately go as far as their sophomore point guard takes them.

Raphielle also writes for the NBE Basketball Report and can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej.

POSTERIZED: Wyoming’s Josh Adams takes flight

Josh Adams
Associated Press
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Not only is Wyoming senior guard Josh Adams the lone returning starter from a team that won the Mountain West tournament last season, but he’s also one of college basketball’s best dunkers. And if anyone may have forgotten about his jumping ability, Adams put it on display Saturday during the Cowboys’ win over Montana State.

After splitting two Montana State players at the top of the key Adams attacked the basket, dunking with two hands over a late-arriving help-side defender. If you’re going to rotate over, have to do it quicker than that.

Video credit: Wyoming Athletics

Defensive progress will determine No. 4 Iowa State’s ceiling

Monte Morris
Associated Press
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Even with the coaching change from Fred Hoiberg to Steve Prohm, No. 4 Iowa State remains one of the nation’s best offensive teams. Given their skills on that end of the floor many teams find it tough to go score for score with the Cyclones, and that’s what happened to Illinois in Iowa State’s 84-73 win in the Emerald Coast Classic title game.

Georges Niang scored 23 points and grabbed eight rebounds, with Monté Morris adding 20, nine rebounds and six assists and Abdel Nader 18 points as the Cyclones moved to 5-0 on the season. The three-pointers weren’t falling in the second half, as Iowa State shot 0-f0r-12, but they shot 19-for-24 inside of the arc to pull away from a team that lost big man Mike Thorne Jr. late in the first half to a left knee injury.

Illinois’ loss of size in the paint opened things up offensively for Iowa State, and the Cyclones took advantage. But where this group grabbed control of the game was on the defensive end of the floor, and that will be the key for a team with Big 12 and national title aspirations.

Nader took on the responsibility of defending Illinois’ Malcolm Hill (20 points) in the second half and did a solid job of keeping the junior wing in check, with that serving as the spark to a 12-2 run that put the game away. There’s no denying that the Cyclones can put points on the board; most of the talent from last season is back and the productivity on that end of the floor hasn’t changed as a result. Niang’s one of the nation’s best forwards, and both Morris (who now ranks among the country’s best point guards) and Nader have taken significant strides in their respective games.

Iowa State will add Deonte Burton in December, giving them another option to call upon. Front court depth is a bit of a concern, as Iowa State can ill afford to lose a Niang or Jameel McKay, but there’s enough on the roster to compensate for that and force mismatches in other areas.

But the biggest question for this group is how effective they can become at stringing together stops. Illinois certainly had its moments in both halves Saturday night, but Iowa State also showed during the game’s decisive stretch that they can step up defensively. The key now is to do so consistently, and if that occurs the Cyclones can be a threat both within the Big 12 and nationally.