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Guard play the difference as No. 20 Colorado ends No. 10 Oregon’s win streak

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No. 10 Oregon possesses arguably the nation’s deepest backcourt, with two talented transfers (Jason Calliste and Joseph Young) joining forces with returnees Dominic Artis, Johnathan Loyd and wing Damyean Dotson. It’s a group that up until Sunday afternoon had won 13 straight games to start the season, and it’s safe to say that the Ducks will continue to have success as the season wears on thanks in large part to this talented corps.

But on Sunday in Boulder it was the tandem of Askia Booker and Spencer Dinwiddie that stole the show, combining for 50 points and 11 assists to lead No. 20 Colorado to the 100-91 victory. Booker, who has played better basketball on the offensive end since knocking down that game-winner against then-No. 6 Kansas last month, racked up a career-high 27 points to go along with four rebounds and four assists.

With Oregon doing a solid job of taking away Dinwiddie in the first half Booker was one of the keys to the Buffaloes taking a 44-42 lead into the half, with Josh Scott (15 points, 12 rebounds for the game) and Wesley Gordon working hard on the offensive glass. Dinwiddie (seven assists) came alive in the game’s final 20 minutes, scoring 14 of his 23 points in a second half that included a stretch in which he hit three straight three-pointers, and Booker scored 11 points in the final 4:40 to seal the outcome.

Faced with the challenge of Oregon’s deep backcourt, Colorado’s junior tandem stepped forward just a couple days after struggling (combined to shoot 5-for-19) in a six-point win over Oregon State on Thursday night.

But to give all of the credit for Colorado’s victory to the two guards would be unfair, as the aforementioned Scott posted his fifth straight double-double and seventh of the season. As a freshman Scott, who entered Sunday averaging 13.8 points and 9.3 rebounds per contest, accounted for just three double-doubles the entire season. Sunday’s performance represents another step forward for Scott, who’s turning into one of the Pac-12’s best big men.

Add in 15 points and seven rebounds from Xavier Johnson (Gordon’s seven rebounds shouldn’t be discounted either) and the players expected to do the heavy lifting for Tad Boyle’s team did just that against the Ducks.

Both teams have some work to do defensively, but while that was evident on Sunday afternoon the scoring options on both teams clearly played a role in this. Oregon’s got a very good backcourt, and that fact isn’t going to change. But if anything, Colorado’s backcourt tandem of Booker and Dinwiddie took advantage of the stage to make a statement.

Gonzaga’s NCAA tournament chances take a major blow in loss to No. 16 SMU

SMU guard Nic Moore (11) shoots over Gonzaga forward Kyle Wiltjer (33) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game, Saturday, Feb. 13, 2016, in Dallas. (AP Photo/Jim Cowsert)
(AP Photo/Jim Cowsert)
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Nic Moore scored 18 of his 25 points in the second half and added 11 assists as No. 16 SMU knocked off Gonzaga in Moody Coliseum on Saturday night, 69-60.

The Zags got 20 points and 16 boards from Domantas Sabonis, but Kyle Wiltjer scored just four points and shot 2-for-17 from the floor.

It wasn’t pretty.

And it may have been the end of Gonzaga’s NCAA tournament hopes.

Entering Saturday, the Zags had an RPI in the mid-60s, enough to keep them in the bubble conversation but not enough to make them anything more than a team that will be projected to end up on the cut-line.

The issue is a complete lack of quality wins on their résumé. Gonzaga beat UConn in the Bahamas. That’s a borderline top 50 win. They beat Washington, another borderline top 50 win. Beyond that? They swept Pepperdine, beat Tennessee and own a win over Montana. None of those are top 100 wins, and that’s why the SMU game was such a big deal. The Mustangs are a top 25 team. This was a road game. This win was the kind of thing that the Zags could pin at the top of their profile.

But Wiltjer didn’t show up, the Zags had no answer for Moore and they’ll head back to Spokane needing, in all likelihood, to win the WCC’s automatic bid if they want to dance.

POSTERIZED: Cal’s Jaylen Brown has his dunk contest entry

California's Jaylen Brown lays up a shot against Oregon State in the second half of an NCAA college basketball game Saturday, Feb. 13, 2016, in Berkeley, Calif. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)
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Cal picked up a big win over Oregon State in Haas Pavilion on Saturday night, and the exclamation point was this emphatic dunk from Jaylen Brown: