The Colorado Buffaloes said "screw it" to the losses of Cory Higgins and Alex Burks, and are so far one of the better Pac 12 teams, although their 0-2 record against Cal and Stanford brought them back to earth.
Speaking of getting back on earth, Trent Lockett's return from the air wasn't exactly smooth, resulting in a rolled ankle. He will probably be out for this game and probably even longer. Can the Sun Devils manage a win in high-altitude Boulder? A look at 1 of the 2 newest Pac 12 members after the jump.
So far in Pac 12 play, Colorado has been a middle of the pack offensive squad. A good chunk of their points from their 66 possessions either come from the FT line or from the 3 point shot. They make around 41% of their 3s, which is through the roof, and their free throw rate is around 40%, yet another high number for the Pac. When the Buffs get to the charity stripe, they convert 76% of their FTs, by far the most accurate mark in the Pac 12. But what tears down the Buffs' offense is their inability to crash the offensive boards effectively and their turnover rate.
What probably got UC atop the standings for a while has been their defense. Opponents average a paltry 0.92 points per possessions, shoot 37% from the floor and 27% from 3. The Buffaloes were also a solid shot blocking team although they barely win the battle of the boards in a night to night basis. Even worse, they don't force too many turnovers or steals on defense, which can only help ASU's cause.
Carlon Brown is the primary scorer and shooter. Converts at a high rate from any spot on the floor. Second in assists but is also the team leader in turnovers.
Austin Dufault, the team's second leading scorer, is a big guy who can also convert from long distance. Makes a high percentage of his shots from all parts of the court, though he doesn't rebound well for his size even in extended minutes
Andre Roberson is the third best scorer, leading rebounder and shot blocker by a wide margin (11 boards a contest). Converts most of his shots inside the 3 point Arc, even though is only slightly above average from 3.
Spencer Dinwiddie is a slightly taller 6-4 guard with great outside touch, though his shooting inside the arc can improve. Another good foul shooter.
Askia Booker is another dependable scorer with athleticism. Slightly average at 3 but not efficient inside the arc. Turns the ball over almost 2 times a game, a rate that is only below Brown.
Nate Tomlinson is the primary point guard option. Despite averaging just 6 points a game he plays the second most minutes behind Roberson. Leads the team in 3.2 assists a game, and has an assist-turnover ratio of 2:1. But he's a horrible shooter from anywhere beside the FT line, where he is above average.
With Colorado's offense predicating on getting fouled or a wide open 3, it makes sense that ASU should force players to go off the dribble rather than taking rhythm shots.
Don't foul; it'll reduce a small ASU bench to begin with and it allows UC easy points.
Keep Roberson off the boards, as he's the only legit rebounder on the team. If Roberson is a non factor on the boards, it'll be hard for the Buffs to win the rebounding battle.
On offense, ASU has to score by committee; unless someone is really really hot, no one is going to really stand out I think. I expect at least 2 or 3 players going into double digits but the scoring difference between those players will not be that great. Scoring by committee also allows each player to show his stuff; I hope 3 or more players can get at least 8 shots just to keep the defense accountable.
Avoid Turnovers, of course.
Questions coming in:
- Who's going to be the PG?
- Can Jonathan Gilling and Chanse Creekmur continue hot shooting against a good Colorado defense?
- Can Carrick Felix bounce back?
- Can Ruslan Pateev and Jordan Bachynski not only score enough, but also hold their own on the boards?
- Kyle Cain scored a career high 16 against OSU. Can he again contribute against UC?