At Harpo’s, a local Boulder Sports Bar, the cheers erupted from a committed group of Boulder citizen’s holding down the fort while students enjoyed winter break. A three-point buzzer beater by none other than senior Sabatino Chen lifted the Colorado Buffaloes over the third ranked Arizona Wildcats 83-80. Immediately, there was no question from those gathered that the basket was good and angles confirmed everyone’s belief that Chen’s shot was off before the blaring red backboard lit up. It was with much confusion that Buffs fans watched the Pac-12 refs overturn the call.
It seemed almost impossible to be disappointed with a Colorado basketball performance against the undefeated third ranked team in NCAA. Especially after their poor performance against then ninth ranked Kansas last month, a 90-54 blowout in Lawrence. However, the Buffs led the Wildcats by double digits in both halves, with the lead reaching 17. It was only a collapse with turnovers and at the free throw line that erased the lead against a great team. However, most road teams cannot sustain leads in the NCAA.
Unfortunately, the called-off shot left little hope for the Buffs in overtime. Without Andre Roberson, their leading front court man who fouled out in regulation, the Buffs hung around for a while in overtime, but Arizona preserved their undefeated status winning 92-83. The Buffs shot 59% from the free throw line and were outrebounded by Arizona. They will try to recover from the loss with a game against Arizona State. A Valentine’s Day rematch against Arizona in Boulder will serve as future motivation.
Despite the foul taste left by the poor refereeing, the Buffaloes are a much-improved team to the one that lost to Wyoming and Kansas earlier in the year. Their strong shooting and defensive poise kept them in the game against one of the best teams in the country on the road. Chen’s emergence as a senior transfer from the University of Denver is encouraging, as is the quick development of freshmen Josh Scott and Xavier Johnson. If Askia Booker can become more consistent in all aspects of the game and perform at a high level with fellow sophomore Spencer Dinwiddie, the Buffaloes are not a team to be taken lightly. While no one wants a moral victory, Arizona suddenly has a Buffalo standing in their way of shooting the moon in the Pac-12.