By: Caryn Maconi, CUBuffs.com
BOULDER – “Welcome to college football,” Colorado head coach Tad Boyle said after Saturday night’s 63-62 overtime heartbreaker against Arizona State.The game may have resembled football more than basketball with an “unbelievable” physicality, something Boyle said affected the play of both teams. Arizona State’s players committed 16 personal fouls on the night; that number for Colorado was 19. The energy in the Coors Events Center, however, suggested many fouls went uncalled by officials.
“The physicality of this game affected both teams,” Boyle said. “I thought our guys reacted well, they played their hearts out. I’ve got no problem with our team’s energy, with their effort.”
Sophomore guard Askia Booker said physicality and aggressiveness from both teams defined the first few minutes of the second half.
“Just a lot of bumps and fighting down low. The big guys got into it a little bit,” Booker said. “It’s just physical. (You’re) down there battling (your) butt off and you might not get a foul, but you’ve just got to keep playing through that.”
That aggressiveness affected more than just emotions on the court. Four minutes into the second half, Colorado freshman forward Josh Scott took an elbow to the head by ASU’s Jordan Bachynski, with Scott being called for a foul in the process.
Scott was momentarily knocked out and suffered a possible concussion, spending the rest of the game in the locker room.
Scott’s status was unknown after the game; he walked out of the CU training room with support but declined to comment.
“I’ll have coach do it all,” assistant athletic trainer Trae Tashiro told the Sports Information Department when asked for an update after the game.
In Colorado’s last meeting with Arizona State in Tempe, Bachynski, a 7-2 center, recorded nine blocked shots; Bachynski has had six or more blocks in seven games this season. On Saturday night, he recorded only three blocks.
Booker said the Buffs were more prepared for Bachynski this time around. When Scott left the game, freshman forward Xavier Johnson stepped in to take on the 7-footer.
“Coach told us … it would be a physical game,” Booker said. “(Bachynski’s) one of their best players, they’re going to get the ball to him and he’s going to score. He got off a little bit early, he scored some buckets under the basket, but I think later on in the game we were pretty physical with him.”
Junior center/forward Shane Harris-Tunks also defended Bachynski for 12 minutes off the bench. The standout center had scored six early in the first half, but after Harris-Tunks entered the game at the 11:27 mark, Bachynski would not score for the rest of the half.
Johnson said taking on two 7-footers (Bachynski and center Ruslan Pateev), though a challenge for the Buffs, would be good preparation for anyone with NBA goals.
“I mean, if anyone’s looking forward to playing professional ball, there will be big guys like that too,” Johnson said. “So you’ve just got to prepare for the future.”
The Buffs have four days to recover physically and mentally from the tension of Saturday’s game. Next up for the Buffs is a Thursday matchup with Utah at the CEC (8 p.m., Pac-12 Network).