Colorado missed free throws and could have defended better. But to Buffaloes coach Tad Boyle, Connecticut’s 74-67 victory over his team Thursday occurred for one primary reason.
When the Huskies applied defensive pressure, Colorado faded.
“They stepped up that part and we didn’t handle it,” Boyle said. “We talked about it at halftime. We practiced the last couple of days against pressure. We knew it was coming.
“You have to attack pressure. We didn’t. We wilted.”
The Huskies, the No. 9 seed in the South Region, will take on top-ranked Kansas on Saturday in the second round. It will be the teams’ first meeting in the NCAA Tournament.
Connecticut, 25-10, overcame a nine-point halftime deficit, caught the Buffaloes on Sterling Gibbs’ three-pointer with 11:35 remaining and opened a 13-point lead before Colorado closed to within three in the final minutes.
The eighth-seeded Buffaloes, 22-12, hurt themselves early at the free-throw line, missing 10 of their first 18, but big man Josh Scott was getting free in the first half and scored 13 of his 23 points.
“He was getting too many easy catches,” Connecticut forward Daniel Hamilton said. “We just had to come out and stop that. That’s what we did in the second half.”
Scott got to the free-throw line often late, but the Huskies hung on and won their seventh straight NCAA Tournament game, a streak that started with the 2014 NCAA championship. Fourth-year Coach Kevin Ollie is 7-0 in his NCAA career.
“It’s a great feeling, but coaching is overrated,” Ollie said.