BOULDER - The Buffaloes were devastated when they fell to then No. 3 Arizona in January. A game they thought they had won, a shot they thought they had a made and an upset that was snatched from their grasp. Colorado then lost three of their next four games.
Following CU's heart wrenching overtime loss to Arizona State they were confounded, again.
A game they had won only for it to be taken from them. Spencer Dinwiddie's tough short jumper gave the Buffs the lead with just seven ticks on the clock in overtime, or just enough time for Arizona State to spoil it all. Evan Gordon slashed to the hoop and laid the ball in at the buzzer to give the Sun Devils the dramatic and deflating, for Colorado, win.
This time though, another setback could mean the end of their tournament hopes.
"The fastest way to move forward is to just move on," said sophomore guard Askia Booker. "We can't have that [another letdown] happen again. We have to be prepared for Utah [Thursday at 8 p.m.]and ready to beat them pretty bad."
The Buffs needed the win. They now are sixth in the Pac-12 Conference, which is a league that may be lucky to get three teams in the NCAA Tournament. The victory would have put them on the cusp of that barrier, a position to easily snatch an at-large bid. Instead any and all victories over this final stretch mean that much more.
"They [other Pac-12 bubble teams] have separated themselves from us now and that is the part that hurts," said head coach Tad Boyle. "We have a conference tournament and five more league games. There is still a lot of basketball to be played and Colorado is not done."
The third year head coach is fully aware of the consequence of allowing the selection committee takes a hold of your destiny. Their bubble burst like a loud thunderclap in 2010, when many people thought they were assured of a spot in March Madness. It was a harsh reality the Buffs won't soon forget.
Beating Arizona State would have bolstered Colorado's resume, they had already taken down No. 19 Oregon and No. 9 Arizona the past two weeks. The loss hurts, but in the moment and in the ramifications it could bear for the youthful team.
"We would have loved to have this win in the bank, it would have changed our whole mindset, but we have to keep moving on," said Boyle.