After a heartbreaking loss to Arizona on Thursday night, due to a late collapse and a controversial overturn of a game-winning three-pointer, the last thing Colorado needed was a loss to Arizona State. However, that’s exactly what happened on Sunday night as the Buffaloes fell to the Sun Devils 65-56 to start off Pac 12 conference play 0-2.
Like their previous game against Arizona, Colorado came out of the gates strong and took an early lead, but this time that lead evaporated quickly. The Buffaloes led by as many as 13 points in the first half, but went into halftime only up three. Their struggles continued in the second half as they were outscored 35-23 and couldn’t buy a bucket. Colorado only managed to shoot 24-68 (35%) from the field and just 2-19 from beyond the arc.
One of the main culprits in Colorado’s loss was the lack of production from their bench.
Coming into this season Colorado and head coach Tad Boyle had plenty of questions and one of them was how much production they would get from their bench, seeing as the bench would be populated with freshman. Periodically this season, they have had solid games from their bench but Sunday was not one of them. Their bench contributed just four points, seven rebounds and three turnovers, with the majority of those stats coming from sixth-man Xavier Johnson.
The starters didn’t play particularly well, but their bench was practically a no-show. Besides Johnson, nobody else on the bench scored and when the back-ups came in to spell the starters they often looked overwhelmed. Without getting production from their bench Colorado will continue to struggle this season and the starters will get burnt out as Pac 12 play continues.
During a stretch like this, where Colorado is not getting much production from their bench, the red-shirting of freshmen Wesley Gordon and Chris Jenkins hurts. Sure it will benefit the Buffaloes in the future and it will help their depth, but for right now it is a major hindrance. Gordon and Jenkins are both bigger, talented players and they could offer some solid minutes off the bench. As of right now the main players coming off the bench are limited in their offensive production and they will continue to struggle against Pac 12 defenses.
The 0-2 road trip through Arizona is not the way Colorado wished to start their conference season, but luckily for the Buffaloes four of their next six games are at home, a place where Colorado plays extremely well.
David LaRose is one of the featured College Basketball writers for Rant Sports covering the Pac 12 and the University of Colorado. He’s also a member of the U.S. Basketball Writer’s Association of America. You can follow him on Twitter or check out his Facebook page