Colorado's Josh Scott (AP Photo)

Josh Scott picks up the slack in No. 15 Colorado’s overtime victory


On Sunday afternoon No. 15 Colorado picked up its best win of the season to date, beating then- No. 10 Oregon 100-91 with the guard tandem of Askia Booker and Spencer Dinwiddie combining for 50 points and 11 assists. Those two juniors are expected to lead the way for Tad Boyle’s Buffaloes, and on most nights they do.

Wednesday’s game against Washington State in Spokane (the students are still on break, which is why the game wasn’t played in Pullman) wasn’t one of those occasions, with Booker shooting 2-for-12 from the field (13-for-14 FT) and Dinwiddie accounting for just six points and two assists after not attempting a single shot in the game’s first 20 minutes. In instances like these Colorado’s fortunate enough to have the services of one of the Pac-12’s most improved players in sophomore big man Josh Scott, and against the Cougars his play was a critical factor in the Buffaloes’ 71-70 overtime victory.

Scott accounted for 19 points on 8-for-12 shooting to go along with nine rebounds, with 15 points and six rebounds coming in the second half and overtime. And with the guards struggling every one of those points and rebounds were needed at Spokane Arena. The Cougars were once again without the services of leading scorer DaVonte Lacy, but 24 points from Dexter Kernich-Drew and double-doubles posted by D.J. Shelton (14 points, 12 rebounds) and Royce Woolridge (ten points, 11 assists) kept Ken Bone’s team in position to pull off the upset.

But the Cougars couldn’t match the production of Scott and Xavier Johnson, who added 14 points, in the paint with the Buffaloes outscoring the Cougars 36-18 in the paint. Wednesday’s performance certainly wasn’t a pretty one for Colorado, with their starting guards struggling as mightily as they did. But in conference play, there are some nights in which teams simply have to gut out a win.

Thanks in part to Josh Scott, Colorado was able to do that and remain undefeated in Pac-12 play.

Louisville backcourt struggles in first scrimmage

Quentin Snider, Jerian Grant
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While a few teams did manage to hold special events for the official start of practice this weekend, most simply went about their business with drills and conditioning. One team that was the exception to all of this was Louisville, which held the first of its two intersquad scrimmages on Saturday. The Cardinals had a head start of sorts on the season, as they played six exhibition games in Puerto Rico this summer.

One hope heading into Saturday’s scrimmage was that guards Trey Lewis and Quentin Snider would have better chemistry than they did in Puerto Rico. But according to Jeff Greer of the Louisville Courier-Journal, that remains a work in progress for the Cleveland State transfer (Lewis) and rising sophomore (Snider).

They struggled in Puerto Rico, and they struggled again in Saturday’s Red-White scrimmage, the first public intrasquad practice since August. They played one half of the game together, paired with the presumed starting lineup with Mangok Mathiang out with an eye injury, a group that also included Damion Lee, Jaylen Johnson and Chinanu Onuaku.

That team lost the first half by 13 points to a younger group of Louisville players, and Lewis and Snider combined for eight points on 3-of-12 shooting, five turnovers, five steals, four assists and three rebounds.

“I thought (Snider) and (Lewis) did not play well together,” U of L coach Rick Pitino said. “They’ve got to get used to that. Neither guy made other guys better. That’s what they need to learn to do.”

As Greer also noted in his story the Cardinals have in recent years employed backcourt tandems in which both guards are capable of making plays for themselves and others. On the 2013 national champion team Peyton Siva and Russ Smith led the way, with Smith being joined by Terry Rozier or Chris Jones the following season and Rozier/Jones being the grouping last season before the latter was dismissed from the team.

Once Jones was dismissed Snider saw more time on the court, and his development was one of the keys for a Louisville team that fell one win short of the Final Four. Louisville needs him to take another step forward heading into the 2015-16 season, because even with Lewis’ experience at the Division I level Snider has more experience playing in Pitino’s system.

But while Saturday’s scrimmage didn’t go as well as anyone involved hoped, there’s still plenty of time for Louisville to work out the kinks before they open the season November 13 against Samford.

Knee injury sidelines Memphis assistant

Toronto Raptors vs Charlotte Hornets
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With practices beginning this weekend, not only are players looking to avoid the injury bug but their coaches are as well. And in the case of Memphis, the Tigers won’t have one of their assistants on the court for a little while due to a knee injury.

Assistant coach Damon Stoudamire, who returned to Josh Pastner’s staff this summer after a two-year stint at Arizona, suffered the injury during a recent workout according to L. Jason Smith of the Memphis Commercial-Appeal. And Stoudamire will require surgery, which will put him on the shelf for a little bit.

“He was working out himself and I think he thought he was in his rookie year,” Pastner said. “We think he’s got a torn meniscus, which will require surgery and put him out for a couple of days.”

Stoudamire isn’t the only assistant coach working through pain either. Syracuse’s Mike Hopkins, who is also Jim Boeheim’s heir apparent as head coach, suffered a neck injury body surfing during a family vacation last month. Hopkins spent some time in a neck brace while putting players through workouts as a result of the injury.

As for the Tigers, they’ll have a mixture of experience on the perimeter and youth in the front court as they look to get back to the NCAA tournament after missing out last season. Among the newcomers are talented forwards Dedric and K.J. Lawson, with experienced guards such as Kedren Johnson, Trahson Burrell and Ricky Tarrant (grad transfer from Alabama) expected to be key contributors on the perimeter.