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Cowboys come up empty against CU in Boulder, 75-71

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I’m afraid Travis Ford and his band of Cowboys might be sitting around the HD TVs in their brand-new state-of-the-art locker room in about 9 weeks staring at the 68-team bracket thinking about how they should have just won that game in Colorado…

It wasn’t as if they didn’t play well, as was the case on Wednesday against Texas A&M. They shot 47% from the field (including 40% from beyond the arc) and 80% from the line. They created turnovers (15) and spread the ball around well. Colorado simply took advantage of its free throw margin (39-14) and out-rebounded OSU 34-22.

The former was apparent from the beginning as Marshall Moses picked up his first foul 34 seconds into the game. I’ve seen 100-yard dashes that lasted longer than it took him to get his first whistle. Give Colorado credit though, they nailed 34 of those 39 free throws and climbed back into the game when it seemed like Keiton was ready to shoot them out of it.

He came out pistols ablaze in the first 8 minutes as OSU built a 12-point advantage that seemed to take the wind out of Colorado’s sails. The Cowboys cooled though and allowed CU to go on an 18-4 run. It was pretty much back and forth after that as Colorado got 13 of its last 15 points from the line and OSU couldn’t muster the shots they needed late.

At some point Travis Ford had to make the Sidorakis for JPO switch in the starting lineup. It’s a little odd that he made it right after JPOs worst game but I think he did it for this reason. If JPO had started after the K-State game he might have thought “wow, I’m the man, I’m going to be all Big-12 first team” and then just fallen apart. Now though, after laying an egg in College Station, it builds his confidence instead of boosting his ego.

He responded too with a 21-4-1-2 stat line that doesn’t disclose how big he was down the stretch. When Keiton went cold and Colorado took Marshall away, JPO took over. He constantly got to the hoop whenever he wanted and finished strong. It was like the inverse of the way he played on Wednesday against the Aggies.

His shot selection, though, when OSU really needed him was questionable to say the least. Trailing by 2 with 30 seconds left Keiton and JPO threw it back and forth like a game of hot potato before JPO finally launched a near-24 footer with 15 seconds left on the clock. Huh? He had successfully driven on Levi Knutson (who had about as high a chance of stopping him as I do) three or four possessions in a row before wildly launching that last shot.

Maybe he wanted to be a hero, maybe he was sick of the thin air and didn’t want to go to over time, or maybe he was just tired. But it was not what I imagine Travis Ford drew up.

I thought OSU handled the altitude thing well. I made a big deal out of it in the pregame primer but nobody really seemed affected. That might have to do with the fact that all the big guys were on the bench early with foul trouble but, hey, at least they were rested!

This loss isn’t terrible but it isn’t great either. It’s starting to look more and more like Colorado is for real and with Burks and Higgins running the show I would say they should be taken seriously. Like I said earlier I’m scared this might haunt Ford and the boys but if they can rebound (not literally) against Iowa St. at home on Wednesday they should be all right going to Waco next Saturday.

A few more notes:

  • The hot start in the 2nd half was huge because it allowed OSU to withstand runs instead of having to make them. This team isn’t streaky enough and doesn’t shoot well enough to make a lot of runs at people, especially on the road.
  • Bryndan Manzer does a good job in studio, I feel like he works really hard at his job which is, admittedly, difficult.
  • I was watching Marshall run around in pregame warmups mouthing the lyrics to, undoubtedly, some song I do not have on my iPod and I thought ‘he might be the strangest basketball player OSU has ever had’. He’s at least in the conversation.
  • First sellout of the year for CU, awesome.
  • Tad Boyle seems like a great coach and a good leader, I’m glad for him that Colorado is having this success. I just wish it had come in their first year in the Pac-12 and not their last in the Big-12
  • I love Ford running the bench getting high fives before the game from the players, assistants, trainers, student-managers, ball boys, and even a few fans.
  • The uniform combination between the two teams was fantastic. OSU should wear its blacks more often and Colorados grays just work, I don’t really even know why, they just do.
  • If Keiton is open anywhere between the 3-point line and half court I want him hoisting the shot.
  • Burks is so pure. He doesn’t even breathe hard. He kind of reminds me of a Rip Hamilton. The behind-the-back he had in the lane was absolutely gorgeous.
  • OSU can’t live and die by the three, that’s going to catch up to them. They came into the game second to last in the Big 12 (Nebraska is last) in 3-point percentage. They aren’t going to shoot 40% very often like they did in this game.
  • At one point Jon Sundvold “I think Sidorakis could be an x-factor” — has he ever watched OSU?
  • I liked that Ford got Marshall back in early after he got his second. He was basically rolling the dice and saying “I trust you to be smart the rest of the half” which Marshall was.
  • Ray Penn jumped at Knutson at one point when he was standing behind the 3-point line. Like, he really just leaped at him. Knutson kind of just looked at him and drove to the hoop. I wrote “my goodness we are so dumb sometimes, but we’re young, and we’ll get there.”
  • Why does Brad Sham scream about everything that happens? “DUFAULT LOST THE BALL AND OLUKEMI DIVES FOR IT!!!” Ok man, there are 11 minutes left in the first half and nobody’s even scoring here…let’s settle down.
  • It was fun to see Penn go into the first row to save a ball and the Cowboys picking up three charges in the first half. It shows they care and they’re coached hard and well.
  • Moses was out of his mind for about a 4-minute stretch there in the second half. I don’t even think he was looking at the rim, he’d just throw it up and turn around and run down the court.

Next game: Iowa St. on Wednesday in Gallagher-Iba

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