Game Notes: Georgia at Colorado
Two programs looking to skip a step.
by Cub Buenning / @cubbuenning
The basketball programs at the Universities of Georgia and Colorado are in quite similar positions. Both have long been part of powerhouse conferences that neither has been able to competitively dominate in several years. The CU Buffaloes are in Year 1 of their new life in the Pac-12 after not being much more than a perennial bottom-feeder in the always-prickly Big 12. Georgia, on the other hand, has long been the SEC’s “middle child,” never doing good or bad enough to garner much major national attention.
The similarities could also be extended into the look of the current teams, as both have precocious young budding superstars trying to lead new-look teams. Gone from Boulder are 2,000-point scorer, Cory Higgins, Big 12 Sixth Man of the Year in Levi Knutson, four-year contributor Marcus Relaphorde, oh yeah, and that other guy, the 12th pick in the Draft, Alec Burks. The Bulldogs are in Year 1 of dealing with life sans long-time rocks, Trey Thompkins and Travis Leslie, both now property of the Los Angeles Clippers. But hard work on the recruiting trail will always soften blows of this nature.
Last night the two sides met in Boulder in front of an excited and energetic crowd. And it was the new faces on each roster that provided not only the game’s highlight moments, but the decisive ones as well.
Sparked by a quick shooting start by Georgia’s fabulous freshman Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and sloppy work on the defensive boards by the Buffs, the Bulldogs held an advantage through the game’s first 30 minutes. But it was Colorado’s pair of newbies from Los Angeles, Askia Booker and Spencer Dinwiddie that pushed the home team to a 70-68 victory. Dinwiddie paced all scorers with 16 on a variety of slashing moves and Booker sparked a key mid-second-half move by the Buffs on his way to 14, both career highs. The emergence on this, the team’s seventh game was not a coincidence, however.
“Those freshmen have an unbelievable belief in themselves. I had more confidence in ‘Ski’ and Spencer than I’ve had all year,” said CU Head Coach Tad Boyle.
“Coach told us to be more aggressive tonight,” mentioned Booker.
While Caldwell-Pope was the star of the game’s first 10 minutes (knocking down impressive contested perimeter jumpers) he was unable to keep the torrid shooting going and struggled to find the bottom of the net for much of the second half. The freshman did finish with a team high 15, which was bolstered by a solid performance by senior point guard Gerald Robinson (14 points), but neither were a major factor in second half.
When the Colorado freshman tandem weren’t slashing into the paint or knocking down perimeter shots, the caroms were largely being cleared by super sophomore Andre Roberson. The 6-7 San Antonio-native took offense to his team’s poor performance on the boards and took it upon himself to grab everything in sight. The Pac-12’s leading rebounder (12 per) gave his team chance after chance and finished the night with what was dubbed a “double Tebow,” 15 points and 15 rebounds.
The outcome left CU at 4-2 and UGA at 4-3 on the young season. But with so much youth still finding its way, the best basketball for each team just might not happen until we turn the calendar to 2012.
Somewhat surprisingly, the win was Colorado’s 26th straight non-conference home victory. And there to take it all in was a Hall of Fame athlete who knew a little something about streaks of his own, Baltimore Oriole great, Cal Ripken.