Feb. 24, 2012
BOULDER, Colo.- Stanford's superior size and swarming defense took the Buffaloes and their sellout crowd out of the game early.
Just as swiftly, the Cardinal put a damper Colorado's ascent toward the top of the league standings by handing the Buffaloes their first Pac-12 home loss with a 74-50 rout Thursday night behind 20 points from Chasson Randle and a superb defensive effort.
"I don't have much to say after that one other than it was just an old-fashioned butt-whipping that we took in every phase of the game," Colorado coach Tad Boyle said. "We let a golden opportunity slip by."
Along with plenty of Cardinal players who had clear lanes to the basket and open shots on jumpers all night.
"I don't know if we were nervous coming into the game, if we were too excited or what the deal was," Buffs forward Austin Dufault said. "But for whatever reason, we just got down on ourselves the first few minutes of the game and we couldn't score. And instead of locking in, defending and rebounding, we just kind of folded and they just took it to us."
The Cardinal (19-9, 9-7) swept the season series against the Buffaloes, whom Stanford beat 84-64 at Maples Pavilion back on Jan. 14 before losing six of nine.
They led this one wire to wire, jumping to a 9-1 lead when the Buffaloes missed their first seven shots and never recovered.
"We really wanted to set the tone early and I think we did that," Randle said.
The Buffs (18-9, 10-5) had gone 7-2 since that blowout at Stanford and were the only unbeaten team at home (7-0) in Pac-12 play.
"We had a lot more to play for than Stanford did but we sure didn't act like it and play like it tonight," Boyle said. "I didn't see this coming. I'm surprised."
After opening talking about catching Cal and Washington to claim their first conference crown since the 1960s, the Buffaloes were embarrassed before a sellout crowd that streamed to the exits midway through the second half.
"They have been terrific here," Stanford coach Johnny Dawkins said of the Buffs. "I'm just really proud of our guys, I thought our effort was great. It was really fun to watch our guys grow in an atmosphere like this."
The loss dealt a big blow to the Buffaloes' visions of their first conference crown since winning the 1968-69 Big Eight title. Colorado is now two games out of first place with three games left heading into a big game against Cal on Sunday.
"I feel like our fans that came out tonight got cheated," Boyle said. "So, we've got a lot of things to make up. We cannot and will not feel sorry for ourselves. ... We've just got to figure out a way to compete against Cal."
The Buffs match up better with the Bears than they do the Cardinal, with its superior size, length and even depth.
Stanford held Colorado to 20 percent shooting in the first half and led 40-20 at the break.
"At times it may have bothered them," Dawkins said of Stanford's size. "More importantly, I think just overall we were just active tonight. I thought our guys did a really good job of helping each other. Because we rotate. It was just a good team effort defensively."
The Cardinal, who also got 11 points from John Gage, held the Buffs to 29 percent shooting overall, outrebounded them 50-26 and led by as many as 29 points before the subs finished things off.
"That's two games in a row they've just 'beasted' us on the boards, where it's not even close," Boyle said. "But we've played against teams with bigger, stronger, taller, faster players and we've competed with them before."
While Stanford's size and athleticism bothered the Buffs, the Cardinal players were unaffected by the altitude.
"We came here to play basketball, not climb mountains," cracked Stanford forward Dwight Powell.
Instead, the Buffs were the ones breathing heavily and grabbing their shorts, and Boyle said maybe he hasn't pushed them hard enough at practice.
The Buffaloes were 4 of 19 from 3-point range while the Cardinal was 9 of 18. The Buffaloes even had trouble at the line, making just 14 of 30 free throws.
Then, they couldn't get stops or rebounds at the other end.
"We let our offense get to our defense," said Askia Booker, who led the Buffs with 12 points. "Shots weren't falling and I think that transferred right to our defense. Everyone's heads were down, didn't play defense, didn't get back, didn't catch shooters."
Stanford started the second half with a 12-6 run, capped by Randle's 3-pointer- which he rushed with the shot clocking ticking down and Booker all over him. When the basket popped the net, Booker trotted back downcourt looking at his coach with a what-more-can-I-do? shrug.
Even when the Buffs did break down Stanford's swarming defense, they had a hard time putting the ball through the hoop, missing several shots at the rim.
"We didn't play well, OK?" Boyle said. "We've played well enough to beat some of the lower echelon teams in our league, we've beaten a couple of the upper echelon teams as well, but you don't do it with the way we played tonight. And I don't have any answer for why. I wish I did. I'm searching for answers."
- Arnie Stapleton, Associated Press
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Head coach Johnny Dawkins
On playing defense and rebounding so well...
"When we can defend, which I think we've done a pretty good job all season long, we just need to match it on the offensive end. I think when those two things are working well for us we can compete. I think this is one of our best defensive efforts especially on the road which is more difficult. I give our kids a lot of credit for really grinding."
On the game plan coming in...
"We just wanted to come out, play hard, and compete. They (Colorado) are a great team and are well-coached. They've been having a terrific season and we just wanted to come out and just try to compete with them here in such a great environment."
On the bench depth...
"We wanted to keep guys as fresh as possible and I think we were able to do that tonight. The guys that were able to do that tonight and it gave us a lot of confidence."
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Head coach Tad Boyle
"I don't have much to say after that one but that was just an old fashioned butt whipping. I'm disappointed and I know our players are disappointed, our fans are disappointed. We let a golden opportunity go right by us. The fans that showed up tonight and have been following us all year long deserve better from the Buffs. For that I feel bad and I apologize but now it is how we are going to rebound and go forward, and that is all I can do as a coach."
On Stanford being a difficult matchup...
"They are not a good matchup but matchups go both ways and they obviously have great size, great athleticism, they are strong and that is two games in a row that they just "beasted" us on the boards to where it is not even close. We have played against teams that are bigger, faster, stronger and we have competed against before, I know last year's team sure did. We are capable of doing it but we just haven't done it against Stanford for some reason or another and I'm just not sure why. However on the other end of the floor I think we are a bad matchup for them if we make them pay. But when you don't make good decisions and not attack the boards then you don't take advantage of that matchup."
On Colorado's offensive performance...
"We never put a run together, and one reason we couldn't put a run together is because we couldn't get stops and rebound the basketball, and when you can't get rebounds it's hard to put runs together. I wouldn't say our guys had no answers I just think we had no answers, we just got beat. They tried, I thought our effort was good but our execution wasn't very good and we didn't get it done for one reason or another. And I didn't see any quit in our team and I didn't expect that. For some reason tonight our lack of offense effected our defense, and that can't happen."