By John Helsley
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A week ago I wrote about the Cowboys “winning ugly.”
Wednesday night at Texas A&M, we saw them lose ugly – hideously in fact.
And after what seemed like a breakthrough win over Kansas State at home last Saturday, the Cowboys find themselves on the back end of a two-game road trip suddenly needing a rebound.
It won’t be easy.
Colorado is one of the surprise teams in the Big 12, owning wins over two Top 25 teams (Missouri and K-State) in the past week.
In Alec Burks and Cory Higgins, the Buffs have two projected NBA players, and the roster overall is in better shape than recent years.
Five Keys for the Cowboys vs. A&M
1. Work the offense. At A&M, when things started to slip away, the Cowboys too often opted for quick and unwise shots, rather than working the ball to Marshall Moses and Co. inside. Moses was limited to just seven shots, although he hurt himself, too, with five turnovers when defenders stripped the ball when he went to his dribble-down move on the blocks. This is not a premier 3-point shooting team. And it shouldn’t act like one. Ray Penn can’t miss 10 shots.
2. Slow Alec Burks. Former Colorado coach Jeff Bzdelik didn’t win a lot at CU, but he apparently recruited well. Burks is big-time, considered a Top 10 pick in this year’s NBA Draft by some. Burks is averaging 24 points per game in two Big 12 outings. The Cowboys won’t be able to shut him down, but they better slow him down.
3. Get help. OSU relies on bench help, with Jéan-Paul Olukemi, Markel Brown and Darrell Williams key figures in any successful projection. None of the three were a factor at A&M. Olukemi in particular, after his 22-point outburst against K-State, threw out a no-show, providing but a single point before fouling out. These guys aren’t complementary players, they’re major players.
4. Road test. The Cowboys have played just three true road games, scuffling in all three, including two bad losses at Gonzaga and A&M. To get back to the NCAA Tournament, a road win or two in the Big 12 would be advisable. Don’t know if it comes here, but at least a stronger showing would be good.
5. Prod Pilgrim. Matt Pilgrim slowed his progress into this season, drawing a suspension from coach Travis Ford in the preseason and falling out of shape. But he’s been back for nearly two months now and it’s time he starts to resemble the guy who showed so much promise late last season. Pilgrim can be a force when he extends himself and plays hard all the time. It’s time.