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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Tempo the key for Cougars against Buffaloes

WSU has struggled lately with foes’ slow-it-down strategy

BOULDER, Colo. – Washington State may have dropped a pair of games against the Pac-12’s top two defenses, but the Cougars’ recent slide is nothing compared to what Colorado’s going through. Consider the Buffaloes, who have lost their last four games, their longest losing streak in as many years. The Cougars will try to prolong CU’s misery and pick up their third Pac-12 road win in today’s 5 p.m. game.

Similar to last season’s loss of Spencer Dinwiddie, the Buffaloes have struggled to overcome injuries.

Forward Josh Scott has missed five of the Buffaloes’ last six games because of back spasms. Xavier Johnson has missed CU’s last three games with an ankle injury, and was reportedly suspended for the team’s last game against Washington.

It’s been a rough season for CU (9-9, 2-4 Pac-12), a program that has been to three consecutive NCAA tournaments and was expected to contend for the conference’s top spot behind Arizona. If Scott is out again that will be a big boon for WSU – he scored 20 against the Cougars when they played in Boulder last year. But the Buffaloes will still have lead-guard Askia Booker.

Booker had 26 points last year in CU’s 68-63 home victory over WSU and is No. 5 in the Pac-12 this year in scoring, averaging 16.1 points per game.

The Buffaloes will employ a similar slow-it-down strategy to the one the last two Cougars opponents, Oregon State and Utah, used to beat WSU (9-9, 3-3). The methodical tempo employed by those teams threw off the Cougars’ offensive rhythm and if the Cougars are unable to finally force a team to play at their speed it could be a similar story against Colorado.

But if WSU can get up and down the court like it wants to then the Cougars could run away from the depleted Buffaloes.