Saul Young/News Sentinel / USA TODAY NETWORK
Despite an up and down night, the Buffs got the job done.
The Colorado Buffaloes kicked off a four-game road trip with a decisive win against the SMU Mustangs in Dallas on Saturday night. The Buffs got the job done, beating the Ponies by a score of 84-69. Colorado was in firm control of the game, as they only trailed for around 20 seconds midway through the first quarter.
For most of the first half, the Buffs went shot for shot with SMU. Every time CU made a bucket, SMU would answer and vice versa. Colorado couldn’t seem to pull away from the Mustangs due to missed threes and some shoddy defense at times. Just as the Buffs started to build a small lead, SMU’s Chantae Embry drilled three straight shots from beyond the arc to cut Colorado’s lead 35-34 with one minute left to play in the second quarter.
Colorado responded to the adversary by balling in that one minute before halftime, going on a 7-0 run during that time. Some great defense by Frida Formann and a beautiful contested shot to beat the buzzer from Jaylyn Sherrod sent the Buffs into the locker room with a 42-36 lead.
In the second half, the Buffs took care of business. Colorado built a comfortable 10 point lead and didn’t relinquish it for the rest of the game. The Buffs never managed to completely pull away from the Mustangs, but they also never let the game get out of their firm control.
Right before the final whistle, disaster potentially struck for Colorado. Guard Jaylyn Sherrod ran right into a hard screen that she didn’t see with about 30 seconds to play. Sherrod went down and was clearly hurting, as she needed help walking off the floor. Sherrod is Colorado’s best player and the brain that makes this team run, so let’s hope that she didn’t suffer anything serious.
The player of the game for Colorado was none other than Aaronette Vonleh, who continued her monster season with a dominant showing in Dallas. Vonleh finished the game with 23 points, 5 rebounds and 2 blocks. Netty was a forced to be reckoned with in the paint, as per usual. Vonleh’s steady hand helped the Buffs find scoring consistency, which was desperately needed against the Ponies.
For the second game in a row, the Buffs had trouble shooting from three point range. Colorado finished the game shooting only 21% from deep, with only 5 makes on 23 attempts. Maybe the Buffs used all their three point voodoo magic against LSU, but that’s alright because they didn’t really need the three point shot to beat the Mustangs anyways. Let’s hope that the Buffs get back into their groove from deep though, as they’ll need to be hitting those shots to beat some of these tough Pac-12 opponents coming up.
Colorado’s defense had some ups and downs in Dallas. The Buffs showed some flashes of brilliances, like on Formann’s three blocks and some impressive forced turnovers. They also had trouble contesting SMU’s shots, which wasn’t great on the other hand. SMU’s small-ball lineup gave the Buffs some problems, which is a potential cause for concern after a similarly constructed Oklahoma State team gave CU a run for their money last week. Colorado is going to have to learn how to handle these speedy small-ball teams better if they want to retain their top five rank.
The Buffs now move to a record of 4-0 and gear up to head to the Virgin Islands for the Paradise Jam classic. Colorado will have to play three games in three days next week, all against good Power 5 opponents. CU will face off against Cincinnati, Kentucky and NC State in St. Thomas. Gear up for a big week of Colorado Buffaloes hoops next week folks, it’s gonna be a fun one.