With leading rebounder Andre Roberson ruled out for tonight’s game against No. 19 Oregon due to a viral illness, Colorado’s chances of defeating the Ducks didn’t look to be as good as they would have been with Roberson.
Tad Boyle’s team didn’t miss a step however, as they jumped on Oregon early and controlled play throughout in a thorough 76-53 victory.
The win wraps up Colorado’s (20-9, 10-7) third straight 20-win season, and in all likelihood the result also means that the Buffaloes will make consecutive trips to the NCAA tournament for the first time since the 1962 and 1963 seasons.
Why’d Colorado win by such a large margin? They defended, and freshman forward Xavier Johnson had arguably his best game as a Buffalo.
Oregon shot 37.5% from the field and turned the ball over 14 times, and Colorado also limited the Ducks’ second-chance opportunities (nine offensive rebounds). Those numbers are a significant improvement when compared to Colorado’s loss at California last Saturday, as the Golden Bears shot 46.4% and grabbed 14 offensive rebounds.
In regards to Johnson the freshman took another step in his development, hitting all seven of his shots from the field and scoring a game-high 22 points to lead the way for Colorado. With Roberson out Colorado needed one of their two freshman starters (Josh Scott being the other) to step up offensively and the Mater Dei product was the one to do it.
Colorado’s going to rely on Askia Booker (11 points, six rebounds) and Spencer Dinwiddie (17 points, seven rebounds and six assists) for a lot of their offensive production but those two need help if Colorado is to have success in next week’s Pac-12 tournament and the NCAA tournament after that. If Johnson can build on tonight’s outing Colorado can be successful even with Roberson unable to play.
Colorado entered Thursday’s action in good shape with regards to an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament. But a bad outing with Roberson sidelined would have led to more scrutiny of the Buffaloes’ credentials.
Thursday’s result was an impressive statement to make without the country’s leading rebounder.