College Basketball Nation: Andre Roberson

Conference Power Rankings: Pac-12

March, 8, 2013
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Does anyone want to win the Pac-12? The regular-season championship trophy has been dangling in front of the Oregon Ducks, UCLA Bruins and Cal Golden Bears all week, but no one has stepped up and grabbed it.

Cal was manhandled by Stanford -- at home, no less -- on Tuesday. UCLA suffered one of the biggest upsets of the conference season by falling at last-place Washington State on Wednesday. Oregon had a chance to clinch at least a share of the title by beating Colorado on Thursday. Instead, the Ducks were blown out in Boulder.

Sheessh!

Name another league where the teams at the bottom are outplaying the teams at the top at the end of the season. The Pac-12 tournament can't get here fast enough.

Here is the final edition of the Pac-12 power rankings. With most of the top teams losing their most recent games, these rankings are based on the entire conference season.

1a. Oregon. Despite the tail-kicking the Ducks received at Colorado on Thursday, it's impossible not to be impressed with the job Dana Altman has done with this squad. Oregon -- which starts two freshmen in its backcourt -- can clinch at least a share of the league title by winning at Utah on Saturday. A Ducks victory and a UCLA loss (at Washington the same day) will give Oregon the title outright.

1b. UCLA. The Bruins have come a long way since losing to Cal Poly early in the season and, for that, Ben Howland deserves credit. Howland's detractors, however, received some extra ammunition Wednesday when UCLA lost to last-place Washington State. Performing that poorly in a game with such high stakes -- UCLA would own a share of the league title already if it had won -- is inexcusable.

1c. Cal. The Golden Bears' regular season is complete. Mike Montgomery's team finished league play 12-6 and can only get a share of the title if both UCLA and Oregon lose Saturday. Much like its counterparts, Cal wilted in a high-stakes game Tuesday when it fell to Stanford 83-70 at home. The Cardinal became the first team in 10 games to reach the 70-point plateau against Cal.

1d. Colorado. With six wins in their past eight games, the Buffaloes are the Pac-12's hottest team. Tad Boyle's squad swept its season series with Oregon and is 4-2 against Top-25 teams. Thursday's 76-53 victory came without the services of Andre Roberson, the nation's leading rebounder, who missed the game with a viral illness. Colorado will close the regular season hosting Oregon State on Saturday.

5. Arizona. The preseason pick to win the league, the Wildcats have been the Pac 12's biggest disappointment. Sean Miller's squad is just 1-5 against the top four teams in the conference. Arizona's highly touted freshmen have been slow to develop, and the Wildcats lack a true point guard.

6. Washington. After a month-long lull in which they lost seven of eight games, the Huskies are getting hot at just the right time. Lorenzo Romar's squad has won four of its past five, with the most impressive victory a 65-57 decision over USC on Wednesday. Washington, which gets 17.1 points per game from C.J. Wilcox, has a chance to spoil UCLA's Pac-12 title hopes Saturday.

7. USC. The biggest news surrounding the Trojans this week has revolved around their head-coaching vacancy. UTEP's Tim Floyd and Syracuse assistant Mike Hopkins both have spoken with school officials about the position. Meanwhile, interim coach Bob Cantu continues to do a solid job. USC will finish Pac-12 play 10-8 if it can win at Washington State on Saturday. That's something no one envisioned after head coach Kevin O'Neill was fired in January.

8. Stanford. The Cardinal completed the regular season with an 18-13 overall record and a 9-9 mark in Pac-12 play. Unless it wins the conference tournament, Stanford will miss the NCAA tournament for the fifth consecutive year. That has to be disheartening to Cardinal fans, who had high hopes after winning last season's NIT.

9. Arizona State. The Sun Devils' 20 wins are twice as many as they had all of last season, but they've struggled in recent weeks. A painful overtime loss at UCLA was followed by a one-point setback at USC. Arizona State will have had an entire week off when it takes the court for Saturday's regular-season finale at Arizona.

10. Utah. The Utes ended a four-game losing streak by topping Oregon State on Thursday in Salt Lake City. Utah's four Pac-12 wins are one more than last season's total. The Utes will try to spoil Oregon's conference title hopes Saturday. Oregon beat Utah 73-64 on Feb. 9 in Eugene.

11. Washington State. The Cougars, who have been the victim of bad breaks and bad luck all season, finally tasted success Wednesday by defeating UCLA 73-61 in Pullman. Brock Motum had 20 points and 11 rebounds and Royce Woolridge added 19 points. The victory came despite the absence of second- and third-leading scorers DaVonte Lacy and Mike Ladd, both of whom have knee injuries. Coach Ken Bone said Lacy is out for the season.

12. Oregon State. It has been a nightmare of a season for the Beavers, who have now lost five consecutive games. Coach Craig Robinson appears to be safe for another year, but this team has too much talent to only have three victories in a league that, despite its parity, lacks elite teams.

Observations from Thursday night

March, 8, 2013
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John Calipari has tried numerous tactics in recent weeks to light a spark within his Kentucky basketball team. One afternoon, he even staged an impromptu dodgeball game to loosen the mood and improve chemistry.

Nothing has worked.

Thursday’s 72-62 loss at Georgia marked the fourth defeat in the past seven games for the Wildcats, who will probably need to beat Florida in Saturday’s regular-season finale to have any shot of making the NCAA tournament.

Center Willie Cauley-Stein shrugged his shoulders when he was asked what Kentucky could do to turn things around.

“Have faith?” he said. “Go to church? Maybe that’s what we need to -- go to church as a team and pray for each other.”

Even divine intervention might not be enough to help the Wildcats at this point. If Kentucky can’t beat Arkansas and Georgia, there is no reason to believe it can get past a Florida squad many pundits have tagged as a Final Four contender.

The Gators defeated Calipari’s team 69-52 in Gainesville on Feb. 12. Nerlens Noel, Kentucky’s best player, tore his anterior cruciate ligament in that contest and UK hasn’t been the same since. Granted, even before Noel’s injury, the Wildcats weren’t very good. Kentucky’s résumé includes very few quality wins -- and a bunch of bad losses.

“I’m mad,” guard Archie Goodwin told reporters after Thursday’s loss. “There’s no way we should lose to Georgia. There’s no way we should lose to Arkansas.

“When we play like we’re supposed to, there’s not anyone in the country we can’t beat. When we play like this, when we play soft as a team, anyone can beat us.”

Calipari, to his credit, said he is to blame for his squad’s collapse.

“I’m so disappointed in the job I’ve done with this team,” he said Thursday night. “I’ve never had a team not cohesive at this time of year. Every one of my teams ... cohesive. Every one of them had a will to win. Every one of them had a fight.

“If this team doesn’t have that, that’s on me.”

[+] EnlargeJosh Scott
Ron Chenoy/USA TODAY SportsJosh Scott and Colorado outmuscled an Oregon team that could've nabbed a share of the Pac-12 title.
Here are a few other observations from Thursday’s games:

1. Does anyone want to win the Pac-12?

UCLA and Oregon entered the week tied for first in the conference standings with two games to play. Somehow, though, UCLA lost to last-place Washington State in Pullman on Wednesday, which meant Oregon could’ve clinched at least a share of the league's regular-season crown by beating Colorado on Thursday.

The Ducks responded by losing 76-53 in Boulder. And the Buffs didn’t even have Andre Roberson, who missed the game with a viral illness. Each team has one game remaining. UCLA plays at Washington on Saturday; Oregon takes on Utah in Salt Lake City the same day.

Whatever happens, no one can argue that the parity in the Pac-12 is greater than any conference in the country. Next week’s league tournament should be fun.

2. I loved the shot of Michigan State coach Tom Izzo jumping up and wrapping his arms around the neck of 6-foot-10 forward Adreian Payne during a timeout in the Spartans’ 58-43 victory over Wisconsin. Payne had just taken a hard fall under the basket after missing a dunk, but he eventually popped back up. Izzo loved seeing that toughness and resiliency -- not just from Payne, but from his entire team.

Michigan State entered the game toting three consecutive losses, all by single digits and all against ranked opponents. But by winning Thursday, Michigan State put itself in a position to clinch a share of the Big Ten title. Indiana sits atop the conference standings at 13-4. Three other teams (Michigan, Ohio State and Michigan State) are 12-5.

If Michigan defeats Indiana on Sunday in Ann Arbor, four teams will finish in a tie for first. That’s assuming, of course, that Michigan State and Ohio State take care of business in their regular-season finales against Northwestern and Illinois, respectively.

Whatever happens, Michigan State should feel good about itself entering the Big Ten tournament following Thursday’s dominating victory over an excellent Wisconsin squad.

3. I’ve got to think Northwestern’s loss to Penn State on Thursday marked Bill Carmody’s final home game as the Wildcats’ head coach. Northwestern has never made the NCAA tournament and it won’t get there this year under Carmody, who is in his 13th season. Losing to the Big Ten’s worst team on Senior Night is about as bad as it gets. Duke assistant Chris Collins has been mentioned as a possible replacement. Another coach who would be a good fit: Valparaiso’s Bryce Drew.

4. Michael Snaer’s ability to come through in the clutch continues to amaze me. The Florida State guard scored on a left-handed runner in traffic with 4 seconds remaining to propel the Seminoles past Virginia 53-51. Snaer was fouled on the play, and he made the ensuing free throw.

The game winner was the fourth for Snaer this season and his sixth over the past two.

Virginia, which had fought back from an 11-point deficit to take the lead, has now lost four of its past six games. The Cavaliers are on the NCAA tournament bubble.

Video: Colorado 48, Oregon 47

February, 8, 2013
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Andre Roberson had 10 points and 13 rebounds as Colorado sent Oregon to its third consecutive loss and snapped the No. 19 Ducks' 20-game home winning streak, 48-47.

Numbers to Know: December recap

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Player of the Month – Doug McDermott, Creighton
(Player of November: Mason Plumlee; Leading Scorer of November: C.J. McCollum)

At 26.5 PPG, McDermott led the nation in scoring during December, while shooting 57.6 percent from 3-point range. He became the first Bluejay with back-to-back 30-point efforts since Bob Harstad in 1990. Creighton went 6-0 in December, including wins over Saint Joseph’s, Akron and California.

McDermott narrowly gets the monthly honor over Michigan’s Trey Burke, who averaged 18.7 PPG and 7.3 APG as the Wolverines remained undefeated.

Defensive Player of the Month – Nerlens Noel, Kentucky
(November: Jeff Withey)

Noel finished in the top 10 in both blocks (4.0 BPG) and steals (2.8 SPG), while also finishing in the top 25 among rebounders (9.7 RPG). He’s now on track to be the first player since Houston’s Bo Outlaw in 1992-93 to average 3.5 blocks and 2.5 steals.

Freshman of the Month – Anthony Bennett, UNLV
(November: Marcus Smart)

This was the month Bennett separated himself from the freshman pack and entered the national player of the year race. He finished third among freshmen in both scoring (19.0 PPG) and rebounding (9.5 RPG). That includes three 20-10 performances.

UCLA’s Shabazz Muhammad warrants mentioning after leading all freshmen at 22.0 PPG during December.

Free Throw Shooter of the Month – Tyler Haws, BYU
(November: Jordan Adams)

Haws hit his first 26 free throws of December, finishing the month 31-for-32 (96.9 percent). That included back-to-back 10-for-10 games.

3-Point Shooter of the Month – Jordan Price, Auburn
(November: Ryan Sypkens)

Price hit his first 11 3-pointers of December, tying a 20-year-old SEC record for consecutive makes. Vanderbilt's Kevin Anglin also hit 11 in a row in 1992.

Rebounder of the Month – Andre Roberson, Colorado
(November: Jamelle Hagins)

Roberson averaged 13.2 RPG in December, second only to Towson’s Jerelle Benimon (14.0). That included Colorado’s first 20-rebound game since 2002, and the first on the road in almost 52 years.

Distributor of the Month – Trey Burke, Michigan
(November: Michael Carter-Williams)

While Michael Carter-Williams again led the nation in assists (10.8), that was somewhat mitigated by 4.4 turnovers per game. Burke averaged 7.3 APG, seventh in the nation, to go with only 1.1 turnovers per game. Over his last three games, Burke has 27 assists and two turnovers.

Conference Power Rankings: Pac-12

December, 21, 2012
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Is there any league in the country where the drop-off from No. 1 to No. 2 is so significant? At least the Big 12 has a ranked team (Oklahoma State) chasing Kansas. In the Pac-12 it's Arizona and then, well ... no one. Here are this week's power rankings.

1. Arizona. The Wildcats open play against East Tennessee State in the Diamond Head Classic in Honolulu on Saturday and could face a tough test against an underrated Miami squad in the second round. If the bracket holds form, Arizona would play San Diego State in the title game on Christmas Day.

2. Colorado. UCLA, Oregon and Cal have all been in the No. 2 slot at some point this season -- and so has Colorado, which is making its return despite a 36-point loss to Kansas on Dec. 8. Spencer Dinwiddie is a finalist for the Cousy Award. Andre Roberson averages 12.3 rebounds, which ranks third nationally.

3. Oregon. The Ducks lost at UTEP on Wednesday in three overtimes, but Dana Altman still has to be encouraged with the direction of this team -- and this program. Arsalan Kazemi has three double-doubles in his past five games.

4. UCLA. There is too much talent in Westwood to write off the Bruins this early. UCLA has won four of its past five games, with the only setback coming against San Diego State. A victory over Fresno State on Saturday seems likely. Shabazz Muhammad (17.8 points) and Jordan Adams (17.5) are both putting up impressive offensive numbers.

5. Oregon State. What has happened to Ahmad Starks? The point guard who had 25 points in a single-digit loss to Kansas on Nov. 30 is averaging just 7.5 points in his past four contests. Oregon State should beat its next three opponents (San Diego, Towson and Texas-Pan American) before opening Pac-12 play at home against Oregon on Jan. 6.

6. Cal. Last weekend's loss to Creighton marked the third loss in a three-game skid (since snapped with a win over UC Santa Barbara) for Mike Montgomery's Golden Bears, whose best victory is against Georgia Tech at the DIRECTV Classic.

7. Stanford. The Cardinal have played four upper-level teams (Missouri, Minnesota, Belmont and North Carolina State) and lost each time. In other words, unless you count Northern Iowa, Johnny Dawkins' squad has yet to win a game that will impress the NCAA tournament committee.

8. Washington. The Huskies have won five of their past six games thanks, in large part, to C.J. Wilcox. Washington's leading scorer averages 19.2 points. Even more impressive are his figures from the Huskies' last two games: 21 points, 4.5 assists, 2.5 blocks and 2 steals.

9. Arizona State. I still can't shake the image of the Sun Devils getting destroyed at home by DePaul. But hey, everyone has a bad night, right? There is still plenty to like about this team -- mainly point guard Jahii Carson (17.9 points, 5.3 assists), forward Jordan Bachynski (4.8 blocks) and small forward Carrick Felix (15.1 points, 7.5 rebounds).

10. Utah. The Utes avenged an early-season loss to SMU by defeating the Mustangs 62-53 Tuesday in Salt Lake City. Jarred DuBois averages team-highs in points (13.8) and assists (3.2). Jordan Loveridge averages 11.7 points and 7.2 rebounds.

11. Washington State. The Cougars have won five of their past six games. Brock Motum (20.4 points) and DaVonte Lacy (10.1) form a nice 1-2 punch. Going .500 in Pac-12 play might be enough to save Ken Bone's job.

12. USC. The Trojans have way too much talent to be playing as poorly as they did in Thursday's home loss to UC Irvine. Wake Forest transfer J.T. Terrell, who was supposed to be USC's savior, has been benched for his poor defensive effort.

Numbers to know: Wednesday recap

December, 13, 2012
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Player of the Night – Andre Roberson, Colorado
Roberson was an enormous presence in Colorado’s 50-43 win over Fresno State, finishing with 17 points and a career-high 20 rebounds.

The last Pac-12 player with a 17-20 game was Leon Powe in 2006. It was Colorado’s first 20-rebound effort since Stephane Pelle in 2002, and first in a road game in almost 52 years.

Freshman of the Night – Isaiah Austin, Baylor
Austin scored 23 points and added 17 rebounds in Baylor’s 85-68 win over Lamar. He’s just the fourth player in Baylor history to reach both of those totals in a game.

Austin’s performance puts him alongside a pair of freshman legends. He joins Kevin Durant and Michael Beasley as the only Big 12 freshmen to post at least 23 points and 17 rebounds in a game.

Scorer of the Night – Keith Clanton, UCF
Clanton had one of the most efficient scoring games in recent memory as UCF beat Bethune-Cookman. He went 14-for-15 from the field to finish with 30 points and 13 rebounds.

The last player to attempt at least 15 shots and miss only one was Stephen F. Austin’s Matt Kingsley in 2008. The last player to go at least 14-for-15 from the field while collecting 13 rebounds was Washington’s Todd MacCulloch in 1998.

Stat Sheet Stuffer – Jerrelle Benimon, Towson
On a night where big men posted some huge double-doubles, Benimon scored 30 points to go with 18 rebounds in Towson’s loss to Temple. The transfer from Georgetown is the first player to reach both of those totals since Yale’s Greg Mangano last season. The last CAA player to do so was Delaware’s Hardin Nana in 2006.

Bench Player of the Night – Devon Collier, Oregon State
Collier led all scorers with 23 points, as the Beavers held off Portland State 79-74. A starter for most of his first two seasons in Corvallis, Collier has exclusively come off the bench in 2012-13. His 14.3 points-per-game average is tied for the fourth-highest among those who’ve yet to start a game. Northwestern State’s DeQuan Hicks leads that category with 15.3.

Conference Power Rankings: Pac-12

November, 30, 2012
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Ranking the Pac-12 is far from the unenviable task it was last season, when the league was filled with mediocre teams that drew minimal interest both locally and nationally. It might be too early to label the current Pac-12 as "strong," but almost every team has made marked improvements, which should make for an entertaining season -- and definitely one worth following. Here's how the conference looks after three weeks.

1. Arizona. Even without an attention-grabbing victory, putting the Wildcats in the top slot was an easy decision -- mainly because UCLA is floundering. Mark Lyons and Solomon Hill each average 14 points, and freshmen forwards Kaleb Tarczewski and Brandon Ashley are grabbing a collective 13.8 rebounds.

2. Cal. The Golden Bears are 6-0, but we'll find out a lot more about Mike Montgomery's squad in the coming weeks. Cal plays at Wisconsin on Sunday before hosting UNLV (Dec. 9) and Creighton (Dec. 15). Allen Crabbe (22 ppg) and Justin Cobbs (20) have been huge on the offensive end.

3. Colorado. The undefeated Buffaloes may have been a notch higher if they didn't need double overtime to defeat Texas Southern on Tuesday. Forwards Andre Roberson and Josh Scott generate the most headlines, but guards Askia Booker (16.8 ppg) and Spencer Dinwiddie (14.8) lead the team in scoring.

4. Oregon. The Ducks' win over then-No. 18 UNLV was one of the top two victories for the Pac-12 this season, with Colorado’s upset of Baylor being the other. Rice transfer Arsalan Kazemi got on track in Thursday’s win over Texas-San Antonio. His line: 20 points, 6 rebounds, 4 assists, 3 blocks, 5 steals.

5. Stanford. Last season’s NIT champion went 1-2 at the Battle 4 Atlantis, but there were still plenty of reasons to be encouraged. Setbacks against Missouri and Minnesota -- both of whom are ranked -- came by single digits. Guard Chasson Randle averages a team-high 15.4 points but shoots just 35.6 percent from the field.

6. UCLA. Two Bruins players (Tyler Lamb and Josh Smith) left the team during the past week. The departures may actually help the chemistry on a squad that lost to Cal Poly on Sunday before bouncing back with a convincing win over Cal State Northridge on Wednesday. Freshmen Shabazz Muhammad and Kyle Anderson combined for 29 points.

7. Arizona State. Sun Devils coach Herb Sendek is known for his slow-paced, low-scoring offenses. But this season Arizona State is pushing the ball thanks to the addition of freshman point guard Jahii Carson, who leads the team in scoring (19 ppg) and assists (5.5). As a team, the Sun Devils are averaging 77.2 points and own a nice win over Arkansas.

8. Oregon State. Could this be the year the Beavers make the NCAA tournament? Craig Robinson’s squad boasts quality wins over Purdue and New Mexico State, and it came within three points of Alabama. Ahmad Starks is averaging 14.6 points -- but only 7.3 in his past three games. Oregon State has a huge opportunity to prove itself Friday, when it plays Kansas in Kansas City.

9. USC. The Trojans’ roster is filled with transfers, so it's understandable that the cohesion just isn't there yet. Still, USC's two most recent losses (to Marquette and San Diego State) came by an average of seven points, so it's not as if Kevin O'Neill's squad isn't competitive. This could look like a completely different team in a month.

10. Washington. Last season’s regular-season champion was decimated when two players (Tony Wroten and Terrence Ross) left school early for the NBA draft and showed it in a home loss to Albany. Forward Aziz N'Diaye is averaging a double-double with 11.3 points and 10.5 rebounds. The fact Washington, coming off a quality win over Saint Louis, is No. 10 in these rankings speaks to the competitiveness of the Pac-12.

11. Washington State. The Cougars' season was basically over the day Ken Bone kicked point guard Reggie Moore off the team. Washington State didn't have a replacement. Kansas transfer Royce Woolridge is trying his hardest, but he's averaging just 6.9 points while shooting 35 percent from the field. He should be a role player, not a starter. Bone, though, doesn't have any choice.

12. Utah. The Utes are better than last season, but they're still considered the worst team in the league along with Washington State. Utah lost to Larry Brown's SMU squad 62-55 in Dallas on Wednesday. Dallin Bachynski, a 7-footer from Calgary, averages 11.5 points (second on the team) and 9.0 rebounds (first).

Charleston Classic primer

November, 15, 2012
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It doesn’t boast the tradition of the Maui Invitational or a field stocked with Final Four contenders like the Battle 4 Atlantis. Still, don’t be surprised if the Charleston Classic turns out to be one of the most entertaining preseason tournaments of them all. Only one ranked squad (No. 16 Baylor) is featured in the eight-team bracket. But there aren’t any patsies, either.

Murray State lost just two games last season and returns a preseason All-American in Isaiah Canaan. This year’s Colorado team is even better than the one that upset UNLV in the NCAA tournament. St. John’s touts one of the most athletic rosters in the country, while Dayton should be greatly improved under second-year coach Archie Miller.

Expect a lot of exciting games and close scores this week.

The basics: Nov. 15-16, 18 at TD Arena in Charleston, S.C.

The set matchups: Dayton vs. Colorado, 12:30 p.m. ET; Baylor vs. Boston College, 3 p.m.; St. John’s vs. Charleston, 5:30 p.m.; Murray State vs. Auburn, 8 p.m.

(For the full bracket, click here.)

The favorite: Baylor. The Bears have the best chance of any team to end Kansas’ string of eight straight Big 12 titles. Point guard Pierre Jackson is a Wooden Award candidate, and 7-foot-1 freshman forward Isaiah Austin may be, too, after a few more weeks. Austin, Cory Jefferson and Ricardo Gathers may form an even better frontcourt than the unit that had three players (Perry Jones III, Quincy Acy and Quincy Miller) drafted last season. And the Jackson-led backcourt is six deep. Baylor went 30-8 last season and reached the Elite Eight. This team may be even more dangerous.

[+] EnlargeBaylor's Isaiah Austin
Kevin Jairaj/US PRESSWIREBaylor's 7-foot-1 freshman Isaiah Austin can do it all when he's healthy, but may be limited by an ankle sprain.
FIVE PLAYERS TO WATCH

Isaiah Austin, Baylor: Austin may have more upside than any player in college basketball. How many other 7-footers can bring the ball up the court, swish a 3-pointer on one possession and then drive to the basket for a dunk on the next? Physically, Austin needs to gain weight and strength. Still, despite being a bit frail, he’s one of the most unique players in college basketball.

Isaiah Canaan, Murray State: Big-school coaches have been kicking themselves the past two years for not recruiting Canaan, who may be the best point guard in America. Canaan has the green light to take shots from 5 or 6 feet beyond the 3-point arc, and his strength makes him tough to stop when he’s slashing to the basket. Canaan averaged 19 points for a Racers squad that went 31-2 last season.

Andre Roberson, Colorado: Roberson may be the best pure rebounder in the country -- and he’s only 6-foot-7. That didn’t stop the Buffaloes forward from averaging 11.1 boards per contest last season along with 11.6 points. Roberson may be even more productive this season thanks to the presence of standout freshman center Josh Scott, who will make it difficult for opponents to double-team Roberson.

Andrew Lawrence, College of Charleston: Lawrence was one of just two current college players to compete in the 2012 Olympics in London, where he represented his native Great Britain. A point guard, Lawrence averaged 13 points and 5.5 assists as a junior last season. He’s hoping to lead the Cougars back to the NCAA tournament under first-year coach Doug Wojcik.

D'Angelo Harrison, St. John’s: Harrison averaged a team-high 16.8 points for the Red Storm last season -- and he was only a freshman. Impressed as Steve Lavin was with his performance, the head coach wants Harrison to improve his shot selection, as he connected on just 37 percent of his field goal attempts in 2011-12. Harrison scored 22 points in Tuesday’s victory over Detroit.

FIVE BIG QUESTIONS

Who else steps up for Murray State?

Everyone knows about Canaan, but the senior point guard can’t do it all by himself. The Racers lost three starters from last season’s team, leading some to believe they won’t be nearly as dangerous in 2012-13. Head coach Steve Prohm is confident seniors such as forwards Ed Daniel and Stacy Wilson will flourish in increased roles.

Will Austin play for Baylor?

The freshman sprained his ankle midway through the second half of the Bears’ season-opening victory over Lehigh and was held out of a game against Jackson State two days later. Baylor coaches were hopeful Austin could return for today’s game against Boston College. The Bears don’t need Austin to beat the Eagles, but his presence will be vital in the semifinals and final.

How much has Dayton improved?

The Flyers won 12 of their first 16 games in Archie Miller’s first season but then fizzled down the stretch. A few key returnees -- especially senior Kevin Dillard -- will make Dayton dangerous in 2012-13, but if the Flyers don't notch a quality win or two in Charleston, they’ll still be regarded as a middle-of-the-pack Atlantic 10 team.

Can Auburn compete?

The Tigers haven’t reached the NCAA tournament since 2003, but strides are definitely being made. Other than Kenny Gabriel, Auburn returns virtually every key piece from a squad that went 15-16 last season. Tonight’s opening-round game against Murray State will be tough, but look for Tony Barbee’s squad to play some tight games in the consolation rounds.

Can anyone in this field beat Baylor?

Absolutely. The Bears may have looked like one of the top teams in college basketball last weekend, but it’s not as if they don’t have kinks to work out. Jackson can be careless with the ball, sharpshooter Brady Heslip is in a funk from 3-point range and it appears Austin won’t be 100 percent. Personnelwise, Colorado would appear to have the best chance of upsetting the Bears. The Buffaloes will certainly be motivated, as Baylor beat Colorado in last season’s NCAA tournament.

THE PICKS

First round: Colorado over Dayton; Baylor over Boston College; St. John’s over Charleston; Murray State over Auburn

Semifinals: Baylor over Colorado; Murray State over St. John’s

Championship game Baylor over Murray State
As an overall league, the Pac-12 was really, really bad last season. But, in its badness, it was also profoundly weird.

To wit: The 2012 Pac-12 regular-season champion, Washington, didn't go to the NCAA tournament, the first power-six team to accomplish that feat since the tournament expanded to 64 teams. (It's still pretty mind-blowing, honestly.) Cal, the league's most efficient team overall, never distinguished itself during the conference season.

With the exception of Utah and USC, who were just, I don't know, let's not talk about it, most of the teams in the league weren't individually awful. They were just ... blah: Stanford started strong but faded fast before eventually winning the NIT (of course); Colorado got hot late at the right time, won the conference tournament, and looked great in March; Oregon appeared promising but never got over the hump; Arizona, arguably the league's most enticing team, ended up being wholly mediocre. UCLA was, well, UCLA.

The Wildcats and Bruins have since reloaded with the No. 3- and No. 1-ranked recruiting classes, respectively, and so the rebirth of the Pac-12 after a deathly 2012 is on the tip of everyone's tongues. But how, exactly, will the league shake out? I don't know, which is why I was especially interested to see how the media would vote in the league's preseason media poll. At Pac-12 Media Day on Thursday, all precincts reported:



So, to recap, Arizona was picked to win the conference in aggregate, if only barely ... even though more voters picked UCLA to actually win the conference. Go figure.

Washington received two first-place votes, somehow, and was picked to finish higher than Colorado, which seems criminally underrated at No. 6. (Andre Roberson, anyone?) USC revamped its whole team, loaded up with a brutal schedule, returned its best player from injury (Jio Fontan) and is talking NCAA tournament, but couldn't get more than a passing glance at No. 9.

It would be easy to dismiss this as an uninformed media poll (those darn media members!), but more than anything, I just think people are confused about the 2012 Pac-12. The league's clear top two -- UCLA and Arizona -- are the best primarily thanks to the arrival of talented freshman, which none of us has seen on the collegiate level and one of which, UCLA's Shabazz Muhammad, is still not eligible. And I'll be honest: I don't think Washington is better than Colorado, but am I willing to bet my breakfast bagel on it? No! Not a chance. And not just because I really want to eat this bagel. I just don't know.

I think the Pac-12 is due for a recovery this season. The infusion of talent and increase in coaching continuity are indicators of a move in a decidedly positive direction. But until everybody gets back out on the court, and we get to see some of these teams in action, I'll forgive anyone who says they have no idea what to expect. Because neither do I.

3-point shot: LSU and in-state talent

November, 2, 2012
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1. LSU’s success in basketball has almost always revolved around mining the top talent in Louisiana. When the Tigers land an elite in-state product, it usually translates into a successful run in the SEC and in the NCAA tournament (see 2006 Final Four). I talked with new Tigers coach Johnny Jones about this last week in Hoover, Ala., at SEC media day. A week later, he landed Baton Rouge’s Jarrell Martin. For teams in the deep South in the SEC like LSU, Ole Miss, Mississippi State, Alabama and Auburn, getting the top talent in their respective states has proven to be a must to compete against the conference's upper echelon. If Martin lives up to his high school hype, the Tigers should climb back toward relevance again.

2. Michigan coach John Beilein suspended Trey Burke for one game. But the symbolism of the suspension will haunt Burke and the Wolverines. Burke was named first-team AP All-America prior to being disciplined. Now, the point guard will start the season with a stigma attached to him. The Wolverines lost leadership in Zach Novak, Stu Douglass and Evan Smotrycz. Tim Hardaway Jr., can lead this team but he needs to be able to trust Burke as his wingmate. Burke let his teammates and the Wolverines staff down with actions that led to his suspension. He needs to be a model citizen from this point forward, not just for the Wolverines’ success, but also if he wants to convince others he is worthy of national honors.

3. The Pac-12 media picked Colorado sixth in the preseason poll. I’m all in with the Buffaloes -- I don’t see it. If there is one team out West that will surprise preseason prognosticators, it is Colorado. The Buffs were no fluke last season in winning the Pac-12 tournament and then beating UNLV in the NCAA tournament. The backcourt of Askia Booker and Spencer Dinwiddie can hold its own with any in the conference. Andre Roberson will anchor the frontcourt. And two freshmen -- Josh Scott and Xavier Johnson -- will have a major impact. Tad Boyle has Boulder believing in basketball again, making playing at altitude a significant advantage for the Buffs. Arizona is a sure thing at the top of the league. But there are questions after the Wildcats with the teams ahead of CU in UCLA, Cal, Stanford and Washington -- enough that I’m not buying Colorado in sixth place and out of the NCAA discussion.
Editor's note: The art of dunking has brought excitement to the game. It also has created chaos in arenas around the nation and provided plenty of challenges for coaches, says Myron Medcalf.

The 2012-13 season is just a few months away. If you’re searching for walking highlight reels, follow these rising (literally) stars. Or, just turn on “SportsCenter” throughout the year. You’ll probably see them.

This isn't a comprehensive list, but here are some guys who can really throw down a dunk (in alphabetical order):

Deuce Bello (Baylor) -- Last season, ESPN captured Bello’s behind-the-back, 360 dunk during a shoot at Baylor. Yes, a behind-the-back, 360 dunk. He made it look easy, too. Next season he’ll play a lot more, and that extra time should translate to more highlights.

Ryan Boatright (Connecticut) -- The 6-foot guard doesn’t look the part of a high-flier, but Boatright gets up. The second-year Huskies guard is one of the most explosive guards in the country. He can beat defenders with his speed and ballhandling, and he's not afraid to climb and go to the bucket.

Markel Brown (Oklahoma State) -- Last season, Brown was ejected after earning his second technical foul in a Big 12 game. His crime? He stared at a defender after his one-handed alley-oop slam set Stillwater on fire during a matchup against Missouri.

Ramon Galloway (La Salle) -- The La Salle guard is versatile. He averaged 14.1 ppg for the Explorers and shot 44.2 percent from beyond the arc. But he unveiled another element of his game -- an arsenal of ridiculous dunks -- during an NIT matchup against Minnesota in March.

Nick Johnson (Arizona) -- The 6-3 shooting guard created an archive of highlights in high school. He added a few more to his collection last season, his first at Arizona. He’s an athletic young star with surprising bounce.

James Michael McAdoo (North Carolina) -- The Tar Heels lost a lot of talent to the NBA this offseason, but McAdoo returned and should be a star. With Tyler Zeller and John Henson in front of him, McAdoo logged 15.6 minutes per game last season. But the 6-9 spectacle showed flashes of his above-the-rim potential throughout the campaign.

Mason Plumlee (Duke) -- You know what they say about guys like Plumlee: Big men can’t jump. Well, Plumlee dispels many myths with his leaping ability and aggressiveness. The 6-11 senior can glide with the best of them. Check out his infamous “three-ball” dunk on YouTube.

[+] EnlargeMinnesota's Rodney Williams
AP Photo/Kiichiro SatoMinnesota's Rodney Williams is worth watching any time he has the ball near the rim.
Marshawn Powell (Arkansas) -- Last year, Powell tore his ACL in practice. Before his injury, the Arkansas star was one of the most athletic players in the country. He’s back this season. Look for him to take to the air again.

Andre Roberson (Colorado) -- Roberson goes to the rim with bad intentions. Colorado’s 6-7 wing is always forceful when he attacks the rim. He’s not limited to dunks, either. But it’s definitely an entertaining component within his game.

Victor Rudd (South Florida) -- I was in Dayton for the First Four when Rudd rocked the rim in South Florida’s lopsided win over California in March. The 6-7 forward is a special athlete. Earlier this week, I asked Rudd the feeling he gets when he dunks. “I kind of like that noise,” he said. He’ll hear it often this season.

Rodney Williams (Minnesota) -- As a freshman, Williams was listed as a potential NBA draft pick in various mock drafts. He certainly has NBA-level athleticism. He can dunk over you. He can glide from the free throw line. He can twirl in midair. When he has the ball with room to fly, you shouldn’t blink.

Patric Young (Florida) -- Young is a 6-9 forward who always goes hard to the rim. His biggest problem last season was the limited touches he received in Florida’s guard-heavy offense. But the 247-pound big man tries to rip the rim off whenever he’s in position for the dunk.

Bracket reveal: Charleston Classic

July, 26, 2012
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Tournament bracket for the 2012 Charleston Classic presented by Foster Grant

When and where: Nov. 15-16, 18 at TD Arena in Charleston, S.C.

Initial thoughts: This could turn out to be one of the better nonconference tournaments. ... Baylor advanced to the Elite Eight last season, Murray State went 31-2 and returns the bulk of its team and Colorado beat UNLV in the NCAA tourney and has plenty of momentum under Tad Boyle. ... Some of the country’s top freshmen post players will be in action. Baylor’s Isaiah Austin is projected as a top-five pick in next summer’s NBA draft. His teammate, Ricardo Gathers, was a top-40 recruit along with Colorado’s Josh Scott. ... It will be good to see St. John’s coach Steve Lavin back on the sideline. Lavin missed almost all of last season while recovering from prostate cancer. ... Archie Miller won 20 games in his first season as Dayton’s head coach in 2011-12. Will be interesting to see how the Flyers follow up. ... It also will be interesting to see what kind of improvements -- if any -- have been made at Auburn, which is regarded as one of the worst programs in the SEC but has recruited well lately. ... After the retirement of Bobby Cremins, College of Charleston has a new coach in Doug Wojcik, who spent the past seven seasons at Tulsa.

Matchup I can't wait to see: Dayton vs. Colorado. Of the four first-round games, this is probably the only one where both teams have the potential to earn NCAA tournament at-large berths. Colorado touts a potential lottery pick in forward Andre Roberson, who ranked fourth in the country in rebounding last season with 11.1 boards per game. Dayton returns three of its top five scorers, including Josh Benson, who missed the second half of last season with a knee injury.

[+] EnlargePierre Jackson
Nelson Chenault/US PresswireBaylor's Pierre Jackson, one of the nation's quickest point guards, has some sizeable help down low.
Potential matchup I'd like to see: Baylor vs. Murray State. Event organizers -- and college basketball fans -- would certainly be pleased with a championship game featuring two of the top five point guards in the nation. Pierre Jackson (Baylor) and Isaiah Canaan (Murray State), both Cousy Award finalists a year ago, would put on a hell of a show. The game, however, would likely be decided in the frontcourt. Murray’s Ed Daniel is poised for a breakthrough season, but the Racers might have trouble matching Baylor’s overall size and depth down low.

Five players to watch

Isaiah Austin, Baylor: The 7-foot freshman has a unique skill set. On offense, Austin is hardly limited to the paint. He has a nice touch from mid-range and can also handle the ball on the perimeter and swish 3-pointers. Austin is also expected to be one of the nation’s top shot-blockers.

Isaiah Canaan, Murray State: There may not be a better all-around point guard in the nation. Canaan shoots from long range, slashes to the basket with ferocity and generally makes good decisions. He averaged 19.0 points last season for a squad that went 31-2.

D'Angelo Harrison, St. John’s: As painful as it was to lose Maurice Harkless to the NBA draft, the Red Storm couldn’t be more excited about the return of Harrison, a shooting guard who averaged a team-high 16.8 points last season. Harrison, though, shot just 37 percent from the field, a number that will have to improve in 2012-13.

Pierre Jackson, Baylor: The 5-foot-10 junior-college transfer changed the culture of Baylor’s entire program last season by bringing swagger to a squad that was often criticized for being soft. Jackson averaged a team-high 13.8 points and 5.9 assists. There might not be a quicker point guard in America.

Andre Roberson, Colorado: The 6-7 Roberson may be a bit undersized in the paint, but that hardly showed last season when he averaged 11.6 points, 11.1 rebounds and 1.9 blocks for a team that won the Pac-12 tournament before upsetting UNLV for its first NCAA victory in 15 years. Roberson will likely be a first-round pick in next summer’s NBA draft.

Title-game prediction

Baylor over Murray State: Isaiah Austin, Ricardo Gathers, Cory Jefferson and J’Mison Morgan will be too much for the Racers down low.

Whom others are picking:

Eamonn Brennan: Baylor over St. John's
Andy Katz: Baylor over Murray State
Myron Medcalf: Baylor over Murray State
Dana O'Neil: Murray State over Colorado

Pac-12's most important players

July, 17, 2012
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Editor's note: ESPN.com’s Summer Shootaround series catches up on the offseason storylines for each conference. For more on the Pac-12, click here.

Arizona: Nick Johnson
The shooting guard tapered off at the end of his freshman season, when he averaged just 6.1 points in his last seven games. It will be interesting to see if the presence of highly touted freshman Gabe York and Xavier transfer Mark Lyons will cause Johnson to step up his game.

[+] EnlargeJared Cunningham, Devon Collier
Jayne Kamin-Oncea/US PresswireJunior forward Devon Collier, right, will be heavily leaned on by the Beavers this upcoming season.
Arizona State: Jordan Bachynski
The 7-foot-2 center was a bright spot for the Sun Devils during an otherwise frustrating season in 2011-12. Don't be fooled by his ho-hum statistics (6.0 points; 4.0 rebounds). In Arizona State's last 13 games, Bachynski averaged 10.1 points, 6 boards and 2 blocks. He'll be one of the top post players in the league this season.

California: Richard Solomon
The 6-foot-10, 220-pound forward was averaging 6.8 points and 6.2 rebounds when he was declared academically ineligible after 13 games last season. It was a huge loss for the Golden Bears, who are a much better team when Solomon is anchoring the defense down low.

Colorado: Andre Roberson
The forward ranked third in the nation in rebounding last season with 11.1 boards per game. Most NBA mock drafts predict that Roberson will be a first-round pick next summer. For now, the biggest question is whether Roberson can lead the Buffaloes to the NCAA tournament for the second straight season.

Oregon: Tony Woods
The 6-foot-11, 250-pound Woods put up modest numbers (6.3 points, 3.7 rebounds) after transferring to Eugene last season. Still, the former Wake Forest post player has yet to live up to the lofty expectations that have hovered over him since high school. Oregon will be a different caliber team if Woods takes that "next step" in his final season.

Oregon State: Devon Collier
With Jared Cunningham now in the NBA, the spotlight will shine on Collier. The 6-foot-7 forward averaged 13.2 points and 5.3 rebounds as a sophomore last season, when he shot 61.5 percent from the field. He also blocked an average of 1.3 shots per contest.

Stanford: Aaron Bright
The point guard should be full of confidence after averaging 16.8 points and 4.2 assists during Stanford's march to the NIT title. Bright's performance earned him tournament MVP honors. If he plays that way in 2012-13, the Cardinal will be back in the NCAA tournament.

UCLA: Larry Drew
The Bruins' recruiting class has generated a ton of offseason buzz, and rightfully so. But a strong performance by Drew at point guard will be vital if the Bruins hope to be a mainstay in the top 10. Drew was North Carolina's starter before walking out on his team midway through the 2010-11 season.

USC: J.T. Terrell
The shooting guard averaged 11.1 points as a freshman at Wake Forest in 2009-10. He withdrew from school last fall after he was arrested for driving while impaired. Terrell played last season at Peninsula Junior College. Trojans coach Kevin O'Neill said Terrell is one of the most talented players he's ever signed.

Utah: David Foster
The 2009-10 Mountain West Defensive Player of the Year missed all of last season with a broken foot. Foster, a 7-foot-3, 243-pound center, will return this season and try to help the Utes bounce back from the worst season in school history. Foster holds Utah's all-time record for blocked shots with 219.

Washington: Scott Suggs
C.J. Wilcox and Abdul Gaddy are the most recognizable names on the roster. But don't forget about Suggs, a sharpshooter who averaged 7.4 points and shot 45 percent from 3-point range as a junior two years ago. The 6-foot-6 Suggs, who redshirted last season because of a foot injury, could be one of the X factors for the Huskies.

Washington State: Reggie Moore
The Cougars might be decent if Moore can keep his head on straight. The point guard was suspended in January 2011 following his arrest on marijuana-related charges. Last season, he played in all 37 games and averaged 10.2 points and 5.2 assists. Moore is one of the most underrated players in the country at his position. His leadership this season will be key.


ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – The NCAA tournament had its epic near-miss earlier Thursday when 16-seed UNC Asheville couldn’t close out Syracuse.

The controversy about the officiating contributed to it being the most discussed game of the day.

VCU became a storyline yet again with a final-possessions win over Wichita State, remaining relevant for a second year in a row.

There were plenty of impressive performances, notably Gonzaga’s pummeling of West Virginia in Pittsburgh. But for the most part the chalk held.

Except at the end of the night.

The Pac-12 has been rightfully beaten down throughout the season. Washington, the regular-season champ, didn’t even get a bid. Cal didn’t put up much of a fight against a middling South Florida in a First Four game in Dayton, Ohio, adding even more insult to the league’s off-year.

But if an underdog or Cinderella can still come from a BCS league (in football terminology), then Colorado fits the description.

This simply shouldn’t be happening. But it is.

The Buffs, picked to finish 11th in the league to start the season, won the Pac-12 tournament with four wins in four days and have moved into the third round of the NCAAs after holding on to beat No. 6 seed UNLV 68-60 Thursday night at the Pit.

Maybe even more surprising than the score and the Buffs moving on is how much they have become a hoops haven.

The Colorado crowd was by far the most boisterous of any of the eight teams in attendance. The raw euphoria from fans young and old had the security at the Pit sprinting out in anticipation that Buffs backers might actually storm the court. A number of fans, who were a part of an impressive CU contingent of about 2,500, had started to move down to the lower level, gathering right above the band in what looked like a precursor to a storm.

But this is the NCAA tournament, where storming is as forbidden as taking a Coke can onto the floor without an approved plastic cup cover.

[+] EnlargeAskia Booker
AP Photo/Matt YorkGuard Askia Booker's 16 points off the bench led five Colorado players in double figures.
“I feel like our guys are playing well, playing with a lot of confidence and we’re just going to try to keep it rolling,’’ said Colorado’s Andre Roberson. “I just feel like we can take down Baylor coming up.’’

Umm, what?

Baylor is by far the most athletic, longest, deepest and talented team Colorado will have faced all season. No one in the Pac-12 would have come close.

But why would Colorado feel like anything is impossible? The Buffs actually used Connecticut’s five-games-in-five-days Big East tournament title run of a year ago as motivation prior to the Pac-12 tournament.

Victories over Utah, Oregon, Cal and Arizona just continued the improbable roll.

UNLV was next, and while the Runnin’ Rebels had moments of confusion at times in the final month of the season, they surely would outrebound and run past CU, right?

Not quite. CU outrebounded the Rebels by 13.

“I did think that they played with a greater sense of urgency than we did,’’ said UNLV coach Dave Rice.

The rarity of Colorado in this position was quickly pointed out by the CU administration on a postgame release. The Buffs had never won five games in a row March. That’s never — as in has never happened. The last time the Buffs won a game in the NCAA tournament, Chauncey Billups was the point guard and it was 1997.

“I don’t think I was born yet,’’ said Roberson. “No, I know I was. I don’t know.’’

“I was 3,’’ CU’s Askia Booker said. “I was 3.’’

The Buffs have a collection of gritty guys who would pale in comparison to Baylor’s length — and yet to dismiss them would be a major error in judgment. Roberson and Spencer Dinwiddie can block shots with the Baylor bigs Quincy Acy and Perry Jones III. Shooters like Austin Dufault, Carlon Brown and Booker can all match Brady Heslip on 3s. And the Buffs can actually win despite making turnovers (23 Thursday).

“We believe in ourselves,’’ Roberson said. “We believe in everything coach [Tad] Boyle tells us. We execute our game plan. We try to do our best. Defense and rebounding, that’s our motto. Every time we do that, we win games.’’

Boyle had the Buffs on the doorstep of the NCAA tournament last year in the final year of the Big 12. It was Boyle’s first season with Colorado. And then the team lost its two best players in Alec Burks and Cory Higgins.

Now, five games into this postseason, Boyle’s record is a combined 10-2 in playoff basketball at CU after a 3-1 NIT record a year ago.

“I don’t see why it can’t continue,’’ Boyle said. “It’s going to get harder as we go, we know that. But I believe in this team. They believe in themselves, and as long as you do that this time of year, you’ve got a shot.’’

Rapid Reaction: Colorado 68, UNLV 64

March, 16, 2012
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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. -- Quick thoughts on 11th-seeded Colorado's 68-64 victory over No. 6 seed UNLV:

Overview: Colorado carried the momentum of its four-game run to the Pac-12 tournament title into a convincing second-round NCAA win over UNLV at the Pit. This wasn’t close. Colorado looked like it was the champ of a major league from the opening tip against a team that ended up behind New Mexico and San Diego State in the Mountain West. The confidence with which the Buffaloes played, from making 3s to contesting shots to rebounding, was unmatched at times by the Runnin’ Rebels. This scrappy bunch of Buffs was playing with house money. Colorado coach Tad Boyle said Wednesday that the pressure was all off the Buffs. He was right. They played as loose as any of the eight teams in the field here at the Pit. But they are still the Buffaloes and couldn’t close. UNLV made quite a run to get it within one possession, but then Colorado showed poise, created turnovers and converted free throws.

Turning point: UNLV had cut the deficit to three, and the Runnin’ Rebels were on the verge of making it a one-point game. But a quick turn of events occurred when Andre Roberson blocked a shot and it led to a runout for Carlon Brown, who flushed home a jam. That gave the Buffs a 60-55 lead and a chance to breath. The Runnin’ Rebels would cut the lead to three one more time at 67-64 with 8 seconds left on a rainbow 3-pointer by Chace Stanback.

Key player: There were a lot of choices here, but a pair of back-to-back 3s by Austin Dufault early in the second half were decisive. They helped send a strong message that the Buffs weren’t going to back down. Dufault ended up with 14 points. He was an efficient 3-of-4 on 3s. But his bang-bang triples were crucial to creating some distance between the two teams after the break.

Key stat: Rebounding. The Runnin’ Rebels went into the game as the more aggressive rebounding team. It shouldn’t have been close. And it wasn’t. The Buffaloes dominated the backboard. Colorado outrebounded UNLV 43-30. UNLV couldn't get second shots on a consistent enough basis to take the lead.

Miscellaneous: Colorado gets major props for its fan contingent. The Buffs brought their A-game. I remember going to a few CU games in Boulder in the '90s, and it was never this loud. The enthusiasm for this team has certainly resonated. ... NCAA president Mark Emmert didn’t last the whole second game. I’m sure he was off to another site for Friday. ... Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott was behind the Colorado bench and so was interim Big 12 commissioner Chuck Neinas. Neinas lives in Colorado, and the Buffs used to be in the Big 12/Big Eight. ... The Buffs had the karma going the moment they stepped on the Pit floor. Assistant coach Tom Abatemarco was an assistant on the 1983 NC State team that won the epic title game in this building.

What’s next: Colorado will play Baylor on Saturday in what would appear to be a mismatch. The Buffs don’t have the interior length to match the third-seeded Bears. But why would anyone doubt the Buffs' ability to make this a game and pull off the upset? This will easily be the toughest game for the Buffs since this run started.

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