Posted January 12, 2014

No. 15 Colorado lost to Washington, but worse, might lose Spencer Dinwiddie

Colorado Buffaloes
(Elaine Thompson/AP)

Dinwiddie injured his left knee in the Buffaloes’ loss, and initial reports suggest the junior guard could be out for an extended period of time. (Elaine Thompson/AP)

If the worst thing that happened to No. 15 Colorado on Sunday was a 17-point loss at Washington, coach Tad Boyle will be pleased. His team’s leading scorer and best player, Spencer Dinwiddie, injured his left knee in the Buffaloes’ loss, and initial reports suggest the junior guard could be out for an extended period of time.

Dinwiddie was dribbling up the court late in the first half when he fell to the floor and grabbed his left knee. Teammates Xavier Talton and Xavier Johnson helped Dinwiddie to the locker room. He did not return for the second half.

The extent of the injury should be revealed Monday, when Dinwiddie is scheduled to have an MRI exam.

“My gut is not good. But we’ll see. If he’s out, he’s out,” Boyle said after the game. “I just feel so bad for the kid because he’s worked so hard.”

Over 17 games, Dinwiddie has averaged 15.2 points, 3.9 assists and 3.3 rebounds while playing excellent perimeter defense. The preseason All-Pac 12 selection has helped Colorado to a 14-3 start and last week scored 23 points and dished out seven assists in an upset win over then-No. 10 Oregon. Draft Express projects him to be a first-round pick in the 2014 draft.

With Dinwiddie, the Buffaloes are one of a few teams that should be able to compete with No. 1 Arizona for the Pac-12 regular season championship. Without him, not only will they likely fall out of the league title chase; their NCAA Tournament seeding trajectory will be revised downward. The Buffaloes are pegged as a three-seed in SI’s latest bracket watch.

Backcourt partner Askia Booker (13.9 ppg, 3.0 apg) is a talented scorer, but he’s at his best when playing alongside Dinwiddie. And if Saturday’s second-half performance was any indication, Colorado will struggle if Booker – who shot 0-for-9 for 0 points in 24 minutes on Sunday – isn’t consistently hitting shots.

The Buffaloes don’t have many proven backcourt players they can plug in to replace Dinwiddie at point guard. Freshman Jaron Thomas is Colorado’s only guard other than Dinwiddie or Booker who has averaged more than 15 minutes per game this season. Sophomore Eli Stalzer is another option.

The Buffaloes host UCLA and USC at home before a daunting road trip to Arizona on January 23.

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