BOULDER - On a night when bad news trumped good, Tad Boyle opened with the good - that being the 10 days between games that he and his Colorado basketball team now can use to try and cure what ails them.
That said, Boyle quickly skipped to the darker side of the upcoming week and a half layoff: "We've got to live with this in the pit of our stomachs."
And there's the nagging, gnawing difficulty in not playing again until Monday, Dec. 19. CU's 65-54 loss on Friday night to Wyoming can fester much longer than Boyle and the Buffaloes would like before it can be purged.
Making only their second road trip of the season (the first ended in a 52-44 loss at Wisconsin-Green Bay in mid-November), the Cowboys outworked the Buffs in Friday night's second half and decisively snapped CU's 27-game non-conference winning streak at the Coors Events Center.
With things other than that broken streak in mind, Boyle called the loss "as disappointing as I've been a part of since I've been at Colorado . . . Wyoming came in and took it from us; they beat us fair and square."
The Buffs can count the ways . . . none of them palatable for their coach. The Cowboys had a 34-29 rebounding edge. They played primarily zone defense in the second half and still forced nine of CU's 15 turnovers. And Wyoming's two big men - 6-10 senior Adam Waddell and 6-7 junior Leonard Washington - dominated inside with 17 and 16 points, respectively.
All of Waddell's points were scored in the second half, with Washington getting eight points in each half.
"I'm hoping fatigue was a factor, because we couldn't do anything inside the entire first 25-30 minutes," first-year Wyoming coach Larry Shyatt said. "But I thought down the home stretch, Washington and Waddell got their way inside, which is a product of conditioning."
"We knew they were good players," Boyle said of the Wyoming bigs. "Our scouting report wasn't followed at times."
And that was true for the first-half defense on Wyoming's best three-point shooter, Luke Martinez. CU had taken a 10-point lead (14-4), but Martinez, who entered the game hitting 46 percent from beyond the arc, got free for three consecutive treys and resuscitated Wyoming. He finished with 14 points, nine in the first half.
Coming out of a 30-30 halftime tie, Wyoming emerged energized while CU did a slow fade. After the Buffs took their last lead (37-36) on a pair of Damiene Cain free throws with 11:25 to play, the Cowboys went on a 13-0 run, highlighted by Waddell scoring seven consecutive points.
"Our defense wasn't playing as well as we could have," said CU senior Carlon Brown, who scored 10 points. "We couldn't get rebounds when we needed to . . . which led to them getting second-chance points. We turned the ball over too much on offense (Wyoming scored 20 points off of CU's 15 turnovers). We just didn't do anything solid."
CU fell behind by as many as 14 points in the final 6 minutes before freshman guard Spencer Dinwiddie hit two three-pointers and a layup to help pull the Buffs to 56-51. That surge was accomplished minus starting point guard Nate Tomlinson, who was whistled for a technical foul with 7:15 remaining and went to the bench with no points, two rebounds, three assists, four turnovers and a steal.
Boyle didn't play him again, and said afterwards he must do "a better job of coaching" Tomlinson. "I have to control that as a coach (his team's maturity level), but Nate has to play better; he has to control his emotions and have better body language. Tonight wasn't one of his better nights and I'll leave it at that."
The five-point deficit (56-51) in the final 2 minutes was as close as the Buffs would get. The Cowboys converted 9-of-11 free throws in the last 56 seconds and headed back to Laramie with a 9-1 record, leaving the Buffs at 5-4.
Said Dinwiddie, whose 16 points topped CU and marked his fourth consecutive game in double figures: "It's pretty evident what happened - we scored 24 points in the second half, they scored 35. Our defense got worse, theirs got better. One of their guys had five steals; we shouldn't let them get five steals when they're in a zone."
Dinwiddie said there was a "laundry list" of issues that need cleaning up over the next 10 days - starting with rebounding. "It can't just be Andre (Roberson, who had 10 points and a dozen boards) . . . no one on the team had over four and Andre had 12. The team has to rebound. And we shot a poor percentage (38.8, 19-of-49). There's a list of things we need to work on."
Giving weight to Dinwiddie's critique, the Buffs had two scoring droughts of almost 6 minutes each during the second half when the Cowboys were in their zone defense. Boyle said the Buffs shouldn't be baffled by a zone: "We've got a good three point shooting team; we should be able to tear some zones apart. Right now we're not playing together; we're not playing zone offense in the game like we play zone offense in practice."
Added Dinwiddie: "We have people that can shoot and we have people that can drive. When the zone slows us down, we tend to have trouble."
And when troubled times hit the Buffs, said Boyle, his team has a tendency not to hit back: "When things start going south we need to be able to pick it up and start going north. And right now we just can't do that. We can do it game to game, but what we need to figure out is how to do it during a game. We have to figure it out.
"I know what the problem is and now it's my job to figure out how to solve it."
He's got until Monday, Dec. 19, when Cal State-Bakersfield visits the Events Center (7 p.m.). Tickets for all games start $10 and can be purchased at CUBuffs.com/tickets or by calling 303-49-BUFFS.