Texas Southern entered Tuesday with a 1-6 record. They had lost by 18 at Boise State, by 30 at Northwestern, by 28 at Michigan State and by 27 points at Middle Tennessee State.
Omar Strong entered Tuesday averaging 8.7 points — all of 52 points in those six games — while shooting 26.9% from the floor and 22.9% from three.
Colorado, on the other hand, entered with a 5-0 record, wins over Dayton, Baylor and Murray State, and a cushy, No. 19 national rankings.
Texas Southern played at No. 19 Colorado on Tuesday night, and since I spent a good deal of time valuable time researching those readily available facts, you can probably guess what happened: Texas Southern took Colorado to double overtime before losing 85-82.
And Omar Strong? (Note: When you have a name like Omar Strong, you will always be referred to as Omar Strong. Not Omar. Not Strong. Omar Strong. No one calls Chuck Norris ‘Norris’, do they?)
He finished with 39 points, almost singlehandedly willing the Tigers to the extra periods as he battled cramping issues. In fact, it’s hard to believe the entire Texas Southern team wasn’t dealing with cramping issues; they have nine players on the roster and were playing a game in Boulder, CO, which is about a mile above sea level. As you probably know, altitude isn’t exactly friendly to one’s endurance.
Does this say something about the Buffaloes?
Well, no. I don’t think so.
This isn’t a team that’s accustomed to playing with a target on their back. They weren’t supposed to do anything last season, and ended up finishing sixth in the league and winning the Pac-12 tournament. They were predicted to finish in about the same spot this season, and have managed to put together one of the most impressive starts to the season in the country. This was a learning experience, and probably one they needed. Colorado isn’t going to walk into a gym and win simply by showing up. They know that now.
The good news for the Buffs?
They won despite playing terribly in the first half, having their star — Andre Roberson — foul out at the end of regulation, and watching Omar Strong erupt for those 39 points.
These things happen to young teams. They also happen to good teams over looking opponents, especially when the game takes place around the holidays.
This game was about Omar Strong, and his 39, cramp-riddled points.
How impressive was his performance?
The Colorado student section gave him a standing ovation when the game ended. That’s respect.
Omar Strong deserved it.
Rob Dauster is the editor of the college basketball website Ballin’ is a Habit. You can find him on twitter @robdauster.