Boulder, CO – As the Washington Huskies (9-15, 2-10) travelled to Boulder to battle Pac-12 opponent Colorado (14-11, 4-8), thoughts went to the outstanding UW 6-4 freshman point guard Markelle Fultz. Would the Buffs be able to stop or limit him this time after he led the Huskies to an 85-83 overtime victory over CU last month, despite a 15-point halftime deficit? Fultz had a season-high 37 points in that game. Many scouts list him as the NBA’s top prospect for the 2017 draft.
Fultz is the only player in the NCAA averaging 20 points, six assists and six rebounds and the only guard in the last 25 years to average 20-5-5 while shooting at least 40 percent from the 3-point line (via Sports Reference).
But it wasn’t going to be a concern on this night. Fultz sat out the game with knee soreness, and much of the Huskies offense would struggle without his talent. He is accountable for an amazing 57.9 percent of UWs offense in conference play so far this year.
Additionally, prior to tip-off Washington knew they would miss their only senior, 6-9 team-captain Malik Dime from Senegal, who suffered a broken pinky on his right hand and has missed five weeks of action. Last season as a junior, Dime set the UW single-season block record with 88 and was an All-Pac-12 Defensive Team Honorable Mention. This year he was averaging 5.5 points per game to go with 4.9 rebounds per game.
Coming into the night, the Buffaloes weren’t having the season they anticipated when practice began in the fall. Colorado had four one-possession losses during a seven-game slide and were without seniors Xavier Johnson (6-7) and 6-9 Wesley Gordon, who were benched for the last game as well in violation of team rules. “It’s an unfortunate situation for them, for the rest of the team, the coaches, for our program,” CU Coach Tad Boyle said. “I said this after the game and I’ll say it again. It’s just a case of two really really good kids making a bad decision. I’m not mad at them. I’m disappointed, they’re disappointed. We’re going to use this as a learning opportunity and we’re going to move on from it.”
Johnson was missed as a primary scoring threat at 15.2 points per game on 52 percent shooting and 6.1 rebounds per game, while Gordon leads the team in rebounding at 7.3 per game and blocked shots with 38. He averages 7.2 points per game this year as well.
Colorado grabbed an early advantage with excellent team balance and scoring from all five starters. Washington played a 2-3 zone to slow down the Buffs, but CU was determined to get the ball inside before taking an outside shot. The Buffs employed Coach Boyle’s usual foundation of defense and rebounding to increase the lead from four points and ended the half in front 42-31.
Within five minutes of the second half Colorado’s depth and home court advantage began to emerge. CU increased the lead by as much as 18 points, although the Huskies did much to bring the score back within eight. The Colorado offensive game-plan to play “inside-out” was effective as they dominated the points-in-the-paint statistical category to gain a 48-28 edge. Washington was also forced to play against full-court trapping pressure without their point guard leading to CU scoring 14 points off turnovers for the game in the 81-66 victory.
Washington’s 6-0 sophomore guard, David Crisp was the Huskies leading scorer with 17 points as the Huskies shot 42.9 percent as a team compared to Colorado’s outstanding 51 percent for the game. Emphasizing further CU balance, the Buffs had six players in double-figures including 21 from George King, a 6’6”, 225-pound junior, to give him a double-double combined with his 12 rebounds.
This article was written by Rich Ward, a correspondent and scout for NetScouts Basketball. You can subscribe to our RSS feed from the upper right corner of our home page, follow us on Facebook, or on twitter.
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