Do games get any uglier?
It was a game that was, honestly, boring. A lot like the first matchup between Colorado and Kansas, in Boulder, only worse because, all along, we were going to win. We were going to blow them out of the water, coast away to a ridiculous victory margin, and embarrass them. That wasn't only the plan; it was the expectation.
We all expected to demolish the Buffaloes. And for good reason, too. We are simply a much, much better basketball team. Better at every phase. In the first half, that resonated. We didn't play perfect basketball, and made plenty of mistakes, but we played well enough to build up a 21-point lead, and that was that. We were already coasting, NCHCBS was already, it seemed, beginning to ween his starters out of their traditional rotational patterns, and the blowout was nearly complete.
All of a sudden, our shots stopped falling. We became complacent, our aggressive nature declined, and they started to get more open looks, hitting damn near every single one.
Quickly, the lead fell, and fell, and fell. A 21-point lead, 46-25, quickly turned into only a two-point advantage, at 54-52. That is, in case you were wondering, a 27-8 run. A huge, game-changing, nineteen-point-swing run like that always has a defining moment. That one moment where you know that this is a game either team could win, now. But, for some reason, this game never did.
I never thought we were going to lose. I can't explain why, although I can certainly guess. I would presume it had a lot to do with my faith in the stats; that Colorado was a terrible team. I would also presume that my gut was telling me that NCHCBS would get their asses in gear, we'd bump up the effort to the usual top-notch level, and coast away again. And while we never really did surge ahead never to be heard from again, we never gave up the lead.
We won. But it might have been our worst home performance of the year, and it certainly was one of the worst stretches of the season; that 27-8 run.
But again, a win is a win is a win. All that matters, really, is that our record changes to 17-4 and, more importantly, 6-0. Undefeated in conference, baby.
Seriously, though, ugh. Can we not play that bad, ever again?
Player-by-players after the jump...
- There really is only one option for Game MVP. A game off of his worst performance of his career, particularly the horrific 0 and 0 first half, Cole Aldrich destroyed everyone in his path. He wasn't to be stopped, except by a Travis Releford pass that bounced up into his already-broken nose, popping his facemask off. But, Colorado defenders had no answer for him, other than to let him shoot in the second half, when Cole's shot was off. He got whatever he wanted, though, pretty much; particularly in the first half. When Cole's little, eight-foot baby hook is on, there is no defending him. In the first half, it was going down and he had 13 points. In the second, it wouldn't fall to save his life, and he scored only 2. 13 rebounds is awesome, though, too, and so is 2 blocks and 0 fouls.
- I'm not the biggest fan of the term "clutch" in athletics, but Tyrel Reed is doing his best to try and change my opinion. For like the fourth time in five games, when we need a basket, it was a Tyrel Reed trey that got us kick-started. We hadn't scored in ages, and the Buffs had gone on a 27-8 run to slim down a 21-point deficit to only 2. We were desperate for a bucket, but whichever shot we tried, it just wouldn't fall. So, we went to Mr. Clutch himself, and he came up big time. A three on the wing, and boom. Five-point lead, turned to 10 in a flash after two Sherron buckets. Game. Set. Match. Again. His overall line (8 points, 2-3 3FG, 2 reb, 2 asst, 1 steal) isn't terribly impressive, but that "clutch" three alone is enough for me.
Wanna know how important Brady Morningstar is to this team? He played 39 minutes. Cole, albeit with a broken nose and duct-taped facemask, played 31. Sherron, even, logged only 34. But Brady, oh, Brady. He played 39, cause Self just couldn't take him out. He didn't have a particularly good offensive night; just a passable 10 points on 7 attempts (6 of which were threes, hitting two of them), but he did a fine job on Cory Higgins. And, there is a reason he was the one playing 39. The team is just much worse without him on the court. As funny as it is to say, it's true. It's just how it is. The ball movement isn't quite as crisp, the rebounding (Brady had 4 rebs) isn't quite as powerful, the defense isn't nearly as stellar, the turnovers are substantially higher. He is just that one guy who your coach told to be more like. The kid who does everything right, no matter what. While his talent level is likely greater than most give him credit for, he isn't on the same level, athletically, with Mario Chalmers, or Brandon Rush, or Sherron Collins, or Tyshawn Taylor, or even the Morris twins. But, he has enough athleticism that, combined with his incredible basketball IQ, makes him the third-best player on this team. Hands down.
- Honestly, I can say that was the worst I've ever seen Sherron Collins play. He still didn't play terrible, or awful, or even bad, really. He just never really had that special, five-minute stretch where he dominated everyone and carried us on his back. He scored five points really quick after Tyrel's three, but that doesn't really count. He shot 4-16, including an absolutely terrible 1-10 from three. I'm glad he shot that poorly, though, because of when he had such an awful game; vs. Colorado. It was the primary reason it was oh-so-close, sure, but we still came away with a victory. We need a big-time performance from him against Baylor, or no way do we stick with them. 3 turnovers isn't great, either.
- Another fantastic basketball performance from Markieff Morris and Marcus Morris. It depends on what you value more as to which one was more successful, but I'd be inclined to say Marcus. In any case, they both were incredibly effective, combining for: 16 points, 11 rebounds, 5 assists, 3 blocks, 2 turnovers, 4 fouls in 32 minutes. The fouls were low (Kieff with three), they didn't turn the ball over that much (Markieff had both of them, too) and were active both on offense and on the glass. Marcus had the better overall game, picking up 7 of the rebounds, only one of the fouls and zero of the turnovers. Kieff always fills up his statsheet, with the good and the bad. In any case, this is the type of improvement all of us are looking for from the Morrises. A combined double-double should be the baseline for a good performance from them. Their primary objective is to get rebounds and to give fouls, although not so many that you foul out in 7 minutes, or anything crazy like that.
- Entirely ho-hum games from Tyshawn Taylor and Mario Little. TyTay looked to be breaking out of his month-long swoon a week-or-so ago, but he's had two consecutive subpar games. And Little, obviously, was being used on a limited basis intentionally in an attempt to save his still-injured leg for the more-important Monday night matchup in Waco. With Tyshawn, though, it's almost gotten to the point where Tyrel should be starting instead. Tyrel picked up more minutes on Saturday, and his defense is improving every single time out there on the floor. It isn't to that point yet, but another couple of poor showings from Tyshawn could have him sitting on the bench, me thinks.
That's all for now. Just a boring, nondescript game that no one outside of the Kansas and Colorado fan communities (and only a handful of the Buffalo fans cared, anyways) that is behind us, now. As ugly as it was, a win is a win is a win. That's what is important.