There’s a relief in coming home By Michael Krumholtz Coming off two losses in Arizona the Buffs stop the bleeding with their first conference win, a 66-60 edging of USC. Back at a more comfortable elevation level, they clogged the Trojan offense, creating turnovers that lead to easy transition points. Despite losing the rebounding battle Colorado forced 23 turnovers. A 31-9 run for CU before the halftime break widened the gap too far for the Trojans to jump. Junior star Andre Roberson did not start after being late to a team meeting. He suffered through a pair of poor shooting performances in the last two outings. But he came off the bench, heeding Tad Boyle’s message, to score 11 points and nab eight rebounds. He also contributed some blocks and steals that set the tone for how CU’s defense would play all night. With Xavier Johnson playing solid in the starting rotation, Boyle has another equation to consider. Following the controversial conclusion in Tuscon and the buzzer-beater that counted until it didn’t count, the hangover headache persisted. A few days later Arizona State used a strong second half to pound the Buffs, leaving them hanging high and dry in the unforgiving basketball desert of Arizona. Against USC they were playing with more than just the pain of two straight losses as the flu has reportedly broken out among the team. At the game’s end, with a lead that seemed wide enough, the same problems from Arizona came back to haunt the young team. They repeatedly looked frustrated when faced with a full-court pressure and missed nearly half of their free throw attempts. Images of the terrible two-game drought came rushing back into scene until the final buzzer allowed the Buffs to escape from any possible repeat. The Trojans have a roster consisting of three 7-footers that tested the offensive prowess of the young big men for the Buffs. But when their best playmaker, guard Jio Fontan, limped out of the game due to injury, they had trouble establishing any consistent rhythm against the long-armed and stubborn Colorado defense. Backcourt standouts Spencer Dinwiddie and Sabatino Chen combined for nine steals on the night. While Dinwiddie was unlike his usual self, struggling to find his shot, the ever-speedy Chen kept up his pace from the Arizona road trip. The lone senior has become a reliable go-to player who can help lead Tad Boyle’s young group come crunch time in more crucial games. Barring a turnaround the Trojans, 6-10 (1-2), seem to be destined for the bottom of the Pac-12 standings. But the current reality is that the Buffs sit right beside them on the conference totem pole. Saturday’s meeting with UCLA, who sits atop the Pac-12 rankings with a 3-0 mark, at Coors Events Center will go a long way in showing what kind of resolve Boyle’s team has. A win propels them again into the conversation at the top, but another stumble could keep them buried. In a lot of ways, the first win is always the most important, especially for a team consisting mainly of sophomores and freshmen. Now they have one under the win column – a first step into taking back their season.