Colorado’s game tonight against a finally ranked UCLA team is important not only because it is against a ranked opponent, but because the outcome will be indicative of what the Buff’s can expect the rest of the season. The Buffaloes will be playing without star guard Spencer Dinwiddie for the rest of the season after he tore his ACL in a blowout loss to Washington, and touted Freshman Tre’Shaun Fletcher is out as well now for 6-8 weeks with a knee injury. The loss of Dinwiddie in particular will be detrimental to Colorado’s Tournament aspirations. CU will have to adjust on both defense and offense as they have lost an elite perimeter defender who can also take over in crunch time. They will have to make adjustments quickly for tonight’s game against the #25 Bruins.
Here are Colorado’s keys to the game:
Defending the perimeter
Look for the Bruins to start their attack outside going in. The Buffaloes are playing minus Spencer Dinwiddie which means his defensive load will shift to Xavier Talton and a platoon of freshmen. UCLA features a deep and talented back court led by Jordan Adams and Kyle Anderson, expect them to swing the ball patiently and pick their spots if the defense cracks. Buffaloes freshman Jaron Hopkins will be tested tonight against an elite UCLA offense in replacing Dinwiddie.
Askia Booker needs to score
Buff fans might look at this and say “of course he will” but with Dinwiddie out the Bruins are sure to pay close attention to Booker, and he will see double teams off the pick. Askia has averaged 19.25 ppg in the past four games and he will need to keep streaking tonight if the Buffs want any chance of winning. If Booker can go off it will also open up scoring opportunities for Josh Scott in the post where he is very efficient.
The Other Guys
Truthfully, without Dinwiddie the Bruins have a more talented team than the Buffs. Colorado’s chances of victory rely heavily upon the role players. Production out of Xavier Johnson, Wesley Gordon, and Xavier Talton will be key for CU to maintain its home dominance. More importantly, though, they must produce on offense. Tad Boyle will make sure the team plays strong defense and keep the scoring down, but the role players need to find ways to score for Colorado to keep it close.
Colorado 74 vs. UCLA 80
I just can’t see Colorado handling this UCLA team without Dinwiddie. The Bruins are just too deep and I’m not sure who on Colorado can guard Kyle Anderson. If Booker and Josh Scott play at the top of their games it will be close, but I see UCLA pulling it out in the end.