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Colorado Buffaloes Must Get More Games Like This From Xavier Johnson

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Xavier Johnson is not the best player on his team, right now that honor belongs to two-guard Askia Booker, but he’s extremely valuable to the cause. The Colorado Buffaloes have been desperate to find more offense since Spencer Dinwiddie’s injury, so Johnson needs more nights like he had against the Washington Huskies. He gave his best on the offensive side of the court and did what he could on defense, a truly promising performance.

Going 10-14 from the floor and providing 27 points, Johnson provided stability to go inside and outside throughout the game. To go along with his efficient offense, he grabbed a team-high 10 rebounds, giving him a double-double. Scoring 27 points, Johnson led all scorers. He also made all three of his 3-pointers.

The 6-foot-7 forward from Los Angeles, California has seen a dramatic increase in minutes of late due to his outstanding performances. He only averages 11 points per game — in his last five games he is averaging just over 18 points per game — but his game is emerging thanks to the offense having to go more through him.

Johnson has a lot of help underneath with fellow big man Josh Scott, who is quietly putting together a nice season for the Buffaloes, averaging 14 points and just under nine rebounds per game. Having a veteran alongside him helps Johnson become more of a scorer on offense and stay out of foul trouble on the defensive end.

Coach Tad Boyle has to love this emergence from a young player that looks to be promising for two more years in Boulder, Colorado.

If Johnson plays like this every single Pac-12 game from here-on-out, coach Boyle and the Buffaloes could regain the momentum they had before Dinwiddie’s devastating injury. Three Buffaloes finished with 20 points, if the big three of Scott, Booker and Johnson play like this every night, the Buffaloes will take the second-place prize in the Pac-12.

The Buffaloes flat-out dominated the Huskies, 91-65. The big three of the Buffaloes outscored the entire Huskies team.

John Lloyd is a Pac-12 Basketball Writer for Rant Sports. Follow him on Twitter @JohnHLloydIII

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2014 NCAA Tournament Preview: No. 8 Colorado vs No. 9 Pittsburgh





The Colorado Buffaloes were one of the dark horses for the National Championship early in the season, but an injury to Spencer Dinwiddie halted their dominating stretch of wins. Still managing to secure a No. 8 seed in the South region of the 2014 NCAA Tournament, the Buffaloes will face the also inconsistent No.  9 seed Pittsburgh Panthers on March 20th in a game that features two of college basketball’s biggest wild cards.

Pittsburgh finished fifth in the ACC, but nearly beat the Virginia Cavaliers to advance to the ACC Tournament finals. When Lamar Patterson and Talib Zanna are on, they are a potential Elite Eight team; when they’re off, Pitt wouldn’t make it out of the first round of the NIT. The Panthers have a tournament streak in them, but they have to get off to a confident start.

What to Watch For

Josh Scott is playing extremely well for Colorado; he leads the team in points per game and rebounds since Dinwiddie’s injury. However, the Buffaloes will not win unless someone else steps up. Pittsburgh is an all-around talented team that likes to share the ball; Colorado must disrupt that. Patterson and Zanna will be the least of the Buffaloes’ worries if Pitt gets into a groove early on.

Prediction:

Colorado just isn’t the National Title threat that they were earlier in the season after Dinwiddie’s injury. The Buffaloes are a good team, but don’t look cohesive anymore. On the other hand, Pittsburgh looks like they could be catching on at the right moment. Expect big things from the Panthers in the tournament.

Pittsburgh 70, Colorado 60

Taylor Sturm is a Columnist for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @TSturmRS, like him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google.

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