Colorado Basketball – January, 2019

January 31st

… CU in the Arena …

Buffs lose winnable game to Oregon State, fall 76-74 at home to Beavers

Related … “Another second-half letdown dooms CU basketball against Oregon State” … from the Daily Camera

From CUBuffs.com … olorado came close but couldn’t take advantage of home court Thursday in the end, as the Buffs dropped a 76-74 decision to Oregon State at the CU Events Center.

Colorado fell to 11-9 overall and 2-6 in Pac-12 play while the Beavers improved to 13-7, 5-3.

The Beavers broke a 69-69 tie with 1:00 on the clock with a pair of free throws and CU could not get back on the board on its next three possessions, missing three shots and committing a turnover in the stretch. The Beavers clinched the win with five free throws in the final 37 seconds.

McKinley Wright IV led CU with 18 points, Evan Battey added 16 and Shane Gatling scored 15. Stevie Thompson Jr. led OSU with 21.

The Beavers shot 56 percent in the second half to overcome a five-point CU lead at intermission while the Buffs were just 10-for-25 in the second half. The Buffs also hurt themselves by hitting just 16 of their 26 free throw attempts.

Colorado led by five at the half, 40-35, but the Beavers opened the second half with a 10-5 run to tie it up, then finally took the lead on an Ethan Thompson 3-pointer.

From that point on, the game see-sawed back and forth, with the two teams trading the lead 10 times over the next 12 minutes as well as a half-dozen ties.

Continue reading story here

Tad Boyle: “This team’s got some firepower. Now it’s time for us to show it”

From CUBuffs.com … Roughly two-thirds of the way through the season, the Colorado Buffaloes have spent more time on the road than they have at home.

That’s not an exaggeration. After 19 games, the Buffs have played nine on the road, eight at home and two on a neutral floor. In case you are wondering, that makes Colorado unique among major conference programs. As of Wednesday, CU is the only team from a Power Five conference, as well as the Big East and American Athletic conferences, to play more road games than home affairs thus far this season.

It’s been a long road, literally and figuratively. Colorado (11-8 overall, 2-5 Pac-12) visited five states and played nine of its 11 games away from home over the last six weeks, including five of seven Pac-12 contests.

But much to the Buffs’ relief, the schedule will now flip in their favor, beginning with a pair of homes games this week at the CU Events Center. Thursday’s 7 p.m. matchup with Oregon State and Saturday’s 7:30 game with Oregon are the beginning of an 11-game stretch that include seven at home.

That’s a welcome sight for a team still hoping to produce at least a top-half finish in conference play — but given the Buffs’ current standing, they also know they have absolutely no margin for error.

Continue reading story here

THE SERIES: Colorado holds a 14-7 edge in the all-time series, including an 8-5 mark in Pac-12 play. The Buffs have won nine of the 10 all-time meetings in Boulder, including the last three. The two teams met just once last year, with the Beavers collecting a 76-57 win on their home floor.

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January 30th

… CU in the Arena … 

Freshman Daylen Kountz has seen his playing time double in Pac-12 play – Boyle: “We need him to play and to play well”

… Next game: Oregon State (Thurs., 7:00 p.m., Pac-12 Networks) … 

From CUBuffs.com … As the Colorado Buffaloes’ depth issues have become critical, the roles of players still available have become equally more important.

That includes some of CU’s younger players, who may have seen their development come at a slower pace under normal circumstances — but now find themselves playing substantial — and critical — minutes in conference play.

Freshman guard Daylen Kountz fits that category. With key reserves Namon Wright (foot injury) and Deleon Brown (academics) out for the season, Kountz has seen his playing time more than double since the Buffs entered Pac-12 play. After averaging just 10.8 minutes per game in non-conference play, Kountz is averaging 22.6 minutes in Pac-12 games.

“We need him to play and play well,” head coach Tad Boyle said after Tuesday’s practice. “He’s going to have to play heavier minutes certainly than maybe he was used to earlier in the year, and I think he’s fully capable of it. He’s shown some good signs.”

Indeed, Kountz has been steady in Pac-12 games, averaging 6.3 rebounds and more than two assists per game. In last week’s Bay Area trip, he finished with eight assists — four against Cal and four against Stanford — with just three turnovers.

The Buffs are hoping he’ll continue that trend this week when they host Oregon State in a 7 p.m. game Thursday at the CU Events Center and Oregon on Saturday at 7:30 p.m.

Continue reading story here

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January 29th

… CU in the Arena … 

Tad Boyle: “Handling that adversity and part of handling that adversity is mental toughness, and that’s where we’re lacking right now”

From CUBuffs.com … There were no surprises in Monday afternoon’s film session for the Colorado Buffaloes.

The Buffs watched film from Saturday’s loss at Stanford — a game in which Colorado led by 12 late in the first half and by nine early in the second half — and the mistakes that paved the way for a second-half meltdown were still there.

After a first half in which Colorado held Stanford to just 37 percent shooting from the field, they allowed the Cardinal to hit 72 percent of its shots after halftime — including a blistering 16-for-18 from inside the arc (89 percent). Meanwhile, the Buffs shot just 35.7 percent in the second half and gave up a 15-8 edge on the boards.

“It’s frustrating because we were so good for the first 18 minutes,” Colorado head coach Tad Boyle said.  “So good. … In terms of things we were trying to take away from them we did as good a job as we’ve done all year, in terms of executing the game plan.”

But then, “Brain dead for the next 20 (minutes). Just absolute opposite.”

Still, even with the second half mistakes that allowed the Cardinal to take control of the game, Colorado managed to stay within reach. With just more than five minutes to play, CU cut Stanford’s lead to four — but couldn’t come up with a defensive stop, then missed an easy shot in the lane on the other end.

“We don’t handle adversity well when things don’t go our way,” Boyle said. “It’s the old thing — frustrations on offense, maybe a foul that was called that we didn’t think was a foul or frustration with an official, missed an open shot. That bleeds into defense and our focus isn’t on what it should be on that end. Handling that adversity and part of handling that adversity is mental toughness, and that’s where we’re lacking right now.”

Continue reading story here

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January 28th

… CU in the Arena … 

Tad Boyle: “I’m sure it’s frustrating for the people who are listening or watching us play”

Related … “Lost opportunities adding up for CU Buffs basketball” … from the Daily Camera

From Neill Woelk at CUBuffs.com … t was just a week ago that Colorado basketball coach Tad Boyle uttered these words about his team:

“The future of Colorado basketball is bright. … I’m bullish on this team, I’m optimistic about this team. I believe in this team and I believe in our players.”

Fast forward to late Saturday evening, after the Buffs let a nine-point second-half lead against Stanford melt away and turn into a 75-62 loss:

“Coaching this team is a challenge. … It’s really become frustrating. I’m sure it’s frustrating for the people who are listening or watching us play.”

Welcome to Boyle’s world. It is a maddening, exciting, infuriating, promising world that brims with potential and oozes exasperation — and oftentimes, all in the same night.

It is a world in which his team can fall behind by 17 on the road at New Mexico, then rally to win. A world in which his team can build an 18-point lead over Cal on the road, then let it slip away and have to claw and scratch to come away with a win down the stretch.

And it is a team that can build a nine-point second-half lead at Stanford and be within arm’s reach of a critical, momentum-building road sweep — and then have it all melt away in the matter of 18 minutes.

It is the 2018-19 Buffs, and the guess here is that there will be more of those wild rides before this season comes to a close.

Continue reading story here

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January 26th

… CU in the Arena … 

Buffs can’t hold first half lead, fall 75-62 to Stanford

Related … “Stanford erupts in second half to end nine-game losing streak against CU basketball” … from the Daily Camera

From CUBuffs.com … A chance for a Bay Area sweep instead turned into a second-half collapse for Colorado on Saturday, as the Buffs dropped a 75-62 decision at Stanford.

The Buffs led by as much as 12 in the first half and by nine early in the second period, but were outscored 42-20 by the Cardinal over the final 18 minutes.

The loss ended CU’s nine-game win streak against Stanford and dropped the Buffs to 11-8 overall and 2-5 in Pac-12 play. The Cardinal improved to 10-10, 3-5. It was also the first time this year in 10 games the Buffs have lost after leading at half, and it ended a program streak of 25 straight wins after leading at halftime.

The Buffs shot just 40.6 percent from the field in the game, including 10-for-28 in the second half. Stanford shot 55.1 percent from the field (27-for-49), including a blistering 72 percent in the second half (18-for-25). After collecting 21 rebounds in the first half, CU had just eight boards the entire second half.

Tyler Bey led CU with 17 points, McKinley Wright IV added 14, Lucas Siewert chipped in 13 and Shane Gatling had 10.

Oscar Da Silva led Stanford with 21 and Daejon Davis scored 16.

The loss, coming on the heels of Thursday’s win at Cal, also prevented Colorado from coming up with a rare conference road trip sweep, something the Buffs have accomplished only once since entering the Pac-12.

“I told our team, two things that we have to understand that we don’t right now — that is basketball is a 40-minute game, and we don’t handle adversity well enough,” head coach Tad Boyle said. “We’re not mature enough and we’re not tough enough. I know those are two of our issues. I’m not talking about physically tough, I’m talking about mentally tough. When things start going south, we don’t have that dig-in, let’s stop this kind of mentality. We just don’t.”

Continue reading story here

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January 25th

… CU in the Arena …

Buffs looking for their second-ever Pac-12 road sweep v. Stanford (Sat., 6:00 p.m., MT, FS1)

… CU’s only Pac-12 road sweep came in 2013, when the Buffs beat Oregon (48-47) and Oregon State (72-68) … 

From CUBuffs.com … On paper, Thursday night’s 68-59 Colorado win at Cal won’t count more than any other Buffs Pac-12 victory this season.

But as far as being a much-needed lifeline for the Buffs as they wrap up the most difficult stretch of their Pac-12 schedule, CU head coach Tad Boyle had no problem summing up the importance of Thursday’s victory.

“Huge, huge, huge,” Boyle said in his postgame radio interview.

Thursday’s win improved the Buffs to 11-7 overall and 2-4 in Pac-12 play, and it bumped the Buffs up a notch in the conference standings, into a tie for eighth place with Oregon.

But more importantly, it gives the Buffs some hope as they head to Stanford on Saturday for a 6 p.m. game (FS1), where they will wrap up an opening stretch that saw them play five of their first seven conference games on the road. A win against the Cardinal (9-10, 2-5) would bump CU to 3-4 in Pac-12 play — and while that may not seem like a lofty goal, it would be leaps and bounds ahead of where the Buffs were the last time they played five of their first seven away from home.

That’s a stretch Boyle won’t forget anytime soon, no matter how hard he tries.

It came two years ago, when the 2016-17 CU team dropped its first seven conference games, including the last two in overtime. Thus, despite a favorable home schedule down the stretch that saw CU win eight of its final 11 conference games, the Buffs were too far back to contend for a top-four conference finish. They won their first-round Pac-12 tourney game, lost to Arizona in the quarterfinals, and then settled for an NIT bid with a 19-14 record.

Continue reading story here

THE SERIES: Colorado leads the all-time series with the Cardinal 12-9, including a 9-2 mark since joining the Pac-12. CU has won the last nine games in the series, including four in a row on the Cardinal’s home floor.

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January 24th

… CU in the Arena … 

Buffs keep Cal winless in Pac-12 play, beat Bears on the road

Related … “Late surge nets CU Buffs basketball rare road win at Cal” … from the Daily Camera

From CUBuffs.com … Prosperity on the road proved to be almost too much for the Colorado Buffaloes to handle Thursday night.

The Buffs, searching for their first Pac-12 road win of the year, let an 18-point lead slip away in the second half before finally regaining their composure down the stretch to collect a 68-59 win over Cal.

Colorado improved to 11-7 overall and 2-4 in Pac-12 play while Cal fell to 5-14, 0-7. It was CU’s first win at Cal since joining the conference in 2011-12.

Tyler Bey had 17 points and 14 rebounds for his eighth career double-double for the Buffs, Lucas Siewert added 18 points and three rebounds and Shane Gatling had 13 points and six boards.

But one of the biggest buckets of the game came from sophomore point guard McKinley Wright IV, who had eight points, four rebounds and four assists in his return to the lineup after missing last week’s game at Utah with a shoulder injury. Wright scored all of his points in the second half, including a big 3-pointer with just 35 seconds remaining in the game that gave the Buffs 66-59 lead to salt away the win.

Paris Austin and Justice Sueing had 13 apiece for the Bears.

“Our resiliency was tested and our guys answered the bell, which I was really proud of,” head coach Tad Boyle said. “It’s much like November — it’s a lot better to learn from a win than learn from a loss, and this would have been a crushing loss. I’m really proud of the way the guys reacted to the adversity.”

Continue reading story here

Namon Wright out for the season … Buffs down to nine scholarship players

Tad Boyle announced after the game that senior guard Namon Wright will undergo foot surgery sometime next week and will be out for the season. Wright has been hampered by a foot injury for the last several weeks.

His loss leaves the Buffs with just nine available scholarship players. CU lost Dallas Walton to a season-ending knee injury before the season began and junior guard Deleon Brown is academically ineligible this semester. Freshman Jacob Doumbek, meanwhile, is redshirting.

Tad Boyle “bullish” on Buffs: “I believe in this team; I believe in our players”

… Next game … at Cal … Thursday, 9:00 p.m., MT, Pac-12 Networks … 

From CUBuffs.com … With a 10-7 overall mark and a 1-4 Pac-12 record, the Colorado Buffaloes are no doubt in a precarious spot as they head west this week for a two-game Bay Area road swing.

“We’re certainly in a difficult place right now, losing six out of eight,” head coach Tad Boyle allowed after practice earlier this week. “You can’t just stick your head in the sand and pretend like that hasn’t happened. That’s where we are.”

But Boyle still has high hopes for the Buffs, and believes they can put themselves in position to contend for an upper-tier conference finish and postseason play.

“I’m bullish on this team,” he said. “I’m optimistic about this team, I believe in this team, I believe in our players. As crazy as it sounds from a coach that’s lost six out of eight with his players, I think we have an opportunity to still make some noise. A lot of basketball to be played.”

But if the Buffs are going to make some noise, they know it has to start this week. Colorado opens its Bay Area swing with a 9 p.m. game Thursday at Cal (Pac-12 Networks), followed by a 6 p.m. game Saturday at Stanford (FS1).

“Thursday, I would call it a must win,” Boyle said of the matchup with the Bears (0-6, 5-13). “I really would, for this team to get to where we want to get, which is postseason play and compete in this league and get in the upper half. … We would like to compete for a championship. That may sound like a crazy statement, but that’s our goal when we start the season. It’s still an achievable one, but our margin for error for that is razor, razor thin.”

 

 

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January 23rd

… CU in the Arena … 

McKinley Wright back at practice, expected to play this weekend

… Next game: Thursday, at Cal, 9:00 p.m., MT, Pac-12 Networks … 

From CUBuffs.com … Barring any setbacks in the next couple of days, Colorado sophomore point guard McKinley Wright said Tuesday he expects to play Thursday when the Buffs play at Cal in a 9 p.m. game at Haas Pavilion.

Wright sat out last Sunday’s game at Utah, a 79-68 Colorado loss, after a shoulder injury suffered the previous week against Washington. It was the first game he has missed as a Buff after playing in all 48 previous games in his career, with 47 starts.

Wright said he didn’t want to rush coming back from the injury, with just six days in between games.

“I decided to take a couple more days to help my body get back healthy,” he said. “But I’m feeling good.”

Now, he is wearing a brace designed to help keep his shoulder stable and he has practiced the last two days. His return would be a boost for the 10-7 Buffs, who have lost four of five Pac-12 games and six of their last eight games overall.

“(He’s) coming along well,” head coach Tad Boyle said after Tuesday’s practice. “He’s a little out of shape, yesterday he was huffing and puffing, but he had a good crisp workout yesterday. Today he’s better, playing with the brace. I think he’s adjusting to that. I think he’ll be in the lineup and be good. Don’t know that for sure yet, but we’ll take it day by day, but he did practice today and he looked good.”

Continue reading story here

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January 22nd

… CU in the Arena … 

Slow starts dooming Buffs: “Maybe it was my fault not letting the guys know the game started at 4 (o’clock) instead of 5:30”

From the Daily Camera … Due to factors such as inexperience and, lately, manpower issues, the Colorado men’s basketball team is a squad that hits the floor with little margin for error.

Recently, the Buffaloes have erased that thin margin and taken themselves out of the fight within minutes after the opening tip.

Sunday’s lopsided loss at Utah — a late Buffs rally turned what had been a 28-point Utes lead into a more palatable 78-69 final score — featured what merely was the latest in a series of game-opening foibles that have played a big part in CU’s 1-4 start in Pac-12 Conference play.

“We start the game and they got 12 points, and they all were from 3-point shooters that we don’t take the threes away from,” CU head coach Tad Boyle said. “The list goes on and it’s really frustrating. Maybe it was my fault not letting the guys know the game started at 4 (o’clock) instead of 5:30. The guys thought it started at 5:30 the way they played. You can’t spot a team 22 points and expect to win on the road.”

Continue reading story here

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January 20th 

… CU in the Arena … 

Buffs fall behind Utes by 26 in the first half, never making a game of it in 78-69 loss to Utah

From CUBuffs.com … Colorado’s first game without sophomore point guard McKinley Wright turned into a long 40 minutes for the Buffs on Sunday.

The Buffs started slow without their starting point guard and couldn’t find their footing until it was too late, as Utah collected a 78-69 win over the slumping Buffs at the Huntsman Center.

The loss, CU’s seventh straight on the Utes’ home floor, dropped the Buffs to 10-7 overall and 1-4 in Pac-12 play. The Utes improved to 9-8, 3-2.

Wright did not play because of a shoulder injury suffered in last weekend’s loss to Washington. Sunday’s game was the first he has missed as a Buff.

But the Buffs needed more than just Wright.

After trailing by as much as 26 in the first half and 28 in the second half, CU actually rallied to make a game of it late. Colorado narrowed Utah’s lead to just 10, 70-60, with 3:28 to go on a Daylen Kountz layup.

But the Utes managed to hold Colorado off down the stretch for the win, as the closest CU could come was nine on a Shane Gatling basket just before the final buzzer.

“Our sense of urgency, our toughness — whatever you want to call it — the fact of the matter is we’re not executing game plans very well,” CU head coach Tad Boyle said. “Offensively, this team is really hard to figure out, how we score 19 points in the first half and 50 in the second half. We have 11 turnovers in the first half, zero in the second half. It’s a really hard team to figure out. The lack of consistency makes it really difficult for me and our staff to coach. We have to figure that out.”

Continue reading story here

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January 19th

… CU in the Arena … 

Buffs to take on Utah (Sunday, 4:00 p.m., MT, ESPNU) – “It shouldn’t be overwhelming for our guys”

Related … “Utah’s Huntsman Center a house of horrors for CU Buffs basketball” … from the Daily Camera

From CUBuffs.com …  It was just a year ago that Tad Boyle‘s Colorado Buffaloes ended a seven-game losing streak to Utah with a 67-55 win in Boulder.

Sunday, the 10-6 Buffs (1-3 Pac-12) have their eye on ending another skid at the hands of the Utes when the two teams meet in a 4 p.m. game at the Huntsman Center (ESPNU). The Buffs haven’t won on Utah’s home floor since February 2012, the first year for both teams in the Pac-12. Since then, there have been close games, blowouts and everything in between, but the common thread has been the Buffs coming out on the short end of the stick.

For his part, Colorado’s Boyle isn’t much for looking into the past. He doesn’t worry about such things as streaks. Every year and every team, he notes, is different. But Boyle also knows that it is difficult to win at Utah, and the reasons are by no means a secret.

“They’ve got great fans, they average over 10,000 fans a game,” Boyle said. “They’re second in the league behind Arizona in terms of home attendance. They have a passionate fan base that cares about basketball. They have good basketball tradition and Larry (Krystkowiak) and his staff do a very good job.”

Indeed, the Utah faithful are exactly that. The Utes averaged 11,710 per home game last year, second in the league only to Arizona’s 14,435.

But it’s more than just the fans. The Utes also usually have some very good players, and while this year is a rebuilding year to a degree, Krystkowiak still has some quality players, beginning with senior guard Sedrick Barefield, who is averaging 15.4 points and 3.8 assists per game.

“Sedrick Barefield is a guy that can go off on any given half or game,” Boyle said. “He’s an explosive, dynamic scorer who is a very, very talented offensive player.”

Continue reading story here

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January 18th

… CU in the Arena …

McKinley Wright on the mend – “Hopefully we’ll have him Sunday”

Related … “CU’s Gatling Aims To Keep Playmaking Skills In Arsenal” … from CUBuffs.com

From the Daily Camera … It’s mixed reviews on the latest injury update for the Colorado men’s basketball team.

While senior Namon Wright remains sidelined due to a foot injury, sophomore point guard McKinley Wright did some light shooting exercises during Thursday’s practice, and coach Tad Boyle said the Buffaloes’ floor general will attempt to practice on Friday.

McKinley Wright suffered a dislocated shoulder last week in the first half of CU’s home loss against Washington and said earlier this week he will attempt to finish the season while wearing a brace to protect his injured left shoulder. While his availability remains in question for Sunday’s date at Utah (4 p.m., ESPNU), McKinley Wright’s progress is a positive sign for a Buffs team that has gone 2-5 since an 8-1 start.

“He’ll give it a go at practice (Friday) and we’ll see how he responds,” Boyle said. “He feels good. He’s going to play with a brace, I think that will give him a little extra security and peace of mind. Hopefully we’ll have him Sunday but we don’t know that yet.”

McKinley Wright leads the Buffs in scoring (12.9 points per game) and assists (5.3), while also averaging 4.9 rebounds per game. He is shooting a solid .510 from the floor despite struggling to a .250 mark from 3-point range (10-for-40). He previously had been playing through a partially torn labrum in the same shoulder for three games before suffering the setback against the Huskies.

Continue reading story here

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January 17th

… CU in the Arena … 

“Playing smart” to be a key for under-manned Buffs

From the Daily Camera … Tad Boyle believes the problem is correctable. But at the very least, it will require far more discipline out of his Colorado men’s basketball team. And the Buffaloes will have to play much smarter than they’ve shown during their three losses in four games to start Pac-12 Conference play.

One setback that has been a common thread through all three of those losses has been the inability of some of the Buffs’ key players to stay out of foul trouble. With the availability of guards McKinley Wright (shoulder) and Namon Wright (foot) unclear due to injuries, that will need to change if the Buffs hope to start gaining traction in the Pac-12 race on the road in the coming weeks, beginning Sunday at Utah (4 p.m. MT, ESPNU).

“What it reflects is the fact I think we have to be more disciplined defensively, because we have to be in better position,” Boyle said. “We have to play smarter. I think we have to anticipate rotations. We had a couple of fouls just out of rotations the other night against Washington because we weren’t anticipating the rotations before they happen.

“It’s a lot of different things. I can’t point to one thing, and I can’t point to one person either. We’re all guilty of it. But playing smart is the key.”

Continue reading story here

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January 16th

… CU in the Arena … 

Pac-12 basketball: USC in turmoil; Washington and Oregon State rising

From the San Jose Mercury News … USC coach Andy Enfield placed freshman Kevin Porter Jr. on indefinite suspension before Sunday’s game at Oregon. Enfield said the suspension was for conduct reasons and hinted that Porter may not return the rest of the season. Porter is an NBA Lottery talent who has already missed nine games this year because of injuries.

Earlier this season, Enfield suspended sophomore guard Jordan Usher, who subsequently transferred to Georgia Tech. The Trojans were down to eight scholarship players during the blowout loss to the Ducks.

As you’ll recall, the promise of last season was derailed in part by the suspension of De’Anthony Melton in connection with the FBI probe into college basketball. Former USC assistant coach Tony Bland pleaded guilty last month to federal conspiracy to commit bribery charges stemming from that investigation.

All this raises several questions: 1) Just what the heck is going on in Troy? 2) When will USC get out of its own way in both major sports? 3) Could we see concurrent basketball coaching searches in L.A. this spring?

*** Washington is red hot, at least by this year’s Pac-12 standards.

The veteran-laden Huskies have won five straight by an average of 13 points per game and handily took care of Utah and Colorado for their first conference road sweep in six years.

With the Bay Area schools visiting Seattle this week, UW stands a great chance of getting to 5-0 in league play.

Washington and Arizona have emerged as the likely league favorites now, depending on your mileage with Oregon State. It’s worth pointing out, then, that the Huskies and Wildcats meet only once in the regular season: on Feb. 7, at McKale Center.

Continue reading story here

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January 15th

… CU in the Arena … 

Boyle: Good news on McKinley Wright; bad news on Deleon Brown

From the Daily Camera … After its first practice since Saturday’s home loss against Washington, the best news for the struggling Colorado men’s basketball team is that point guard McKinley Wright is likely to return at some point this season.

The status of senior guard Namon Wright, however, remains murky. And while Deleon Brown’s status was clarified, he won’t be helping the Buffaloes’ lagging backcourt depth any time soon.

McKinley Wright may not be back for Sunday’s road date at Utah (4 p.m., ESPNU) but head coach Tad Boyle expressed optimism CU’s leading scorer and undisputed floor general didn’t suffer a season-ending setback when he left the UW game in the first half with a left shoulder injury.

Namon Wright remains day-to-day due to a foot injury, while Boyle took back his previous statements regarding the potential of a February return for the academically ineligible Brown, who has played his final game of the 2018-19 season.

Continue reading story here

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January 14th

… CU in the Arena … 

Shane Gatling comfortable at point guard if McKinley Wright shoulder injury is lasting

From the Daily Camera … If McKinley Wright’s shoulder injury proves problematic for the next few weeks and beyond, the Colorado men’s basketball team will have a colossal void to fill.

Yet one of the bright spots of Saturday night’s close-but-not-quite 77-70 home loss against Washington was the play of junior guard Shane Gatling, who showed he is capable of substituting for Wright at the top of the Buffaloes’ attack even while his shooting woes continue.

Wright, who played through a left shoulder injury during last week’s pair of losses in Arizona, exited Saturday’s contest with 8 minutes, 8 seconds remaining in the first half and did not return. Gatling has played mostly off the ball this season after transferring from Indian Hills Community College, but he impressed in his return to a ball-handling role that helped make him a junior college All-American last season.

Continue reading story here

USC star (and projected lottery pick) suspended indefinitely

From The Los Angeles Times … This long weekend in Oregon was supposed to be the moment this year’s USC Trojans finally became whole.

Kevin Porter Jr. was returning to the lineup after a mysterious six-week recovery from a thigh bruise. His family made the trip down from Seattle to watch Porter, projected as a consensus NBA lottery pick, play his first Pac-12 games. Thursday night, Porter played 25 minutes as the Trojans lost a heartbreaker in overtime at Oregon State. After the game, Porter appeared to be emotionally wrecked by the defeat and put the blame on himself.

If one had witnessed Porter then, one never would have been able to see what was coming in just a few days. What was in the basement hallway of Gill Coliseum was a frustrated 18-year-old kid who really wanted to lead his team to a victory and couldn’t get it done.

But these Pac-12 trips can test a young player’s focus.

“We just sat around Eugene for three days now,” USC coach Andy Enfield said.

Apparently, there was plenty of action, too, none of it much good for the Trojans. Porter had an undisclosed conduct issue, and Enfield felt he had no choice but to suspend the freshman.

It was no surprise that USC came out flat Sunday night against Oregon, and the Ducks gladly sent the Trojans back to Los Angeles with an 81-60 whipping and another grotesque wart on their resume.

That was only the beginning of USC’s problems. After the game, Enfield said that Porter’s suspension was indefinite and indicated that there was a chance Porter could have played his last game for the Trojans.

“We’ll reevaluate his future with the program this week,” Enfield said.

Continue reading story here

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January 12th

… CU in the Arena …

Buffs spot Huskies 12-0 lead, fall 77-70 to Washington

Related … “Second-half rally not enough for shorthanded CU basketball against Washington” … from the Daily Camera

From CUBuffs.com …  A furious Colorado rally in the second half came up just short Saturday night, as the Buffs dropped a 77-70 decision to Washington at the CU Events Center.

The Buffs, who played much of the game without star point guard McKinley Wright (shoulder injury), rallied from a 15-point deficit in the second half to cut the margin to one with just more than seven minutes left. But that was as close as the Buffs could come, as the Huskies answered each Colorado rally and held on down the stretch for the win.

CU fell to 10-6 overall and 1-3 in Pac-12 play while the Huskies improved to 12-4, 3-0.

D’Shawn Schwartz led Colorado with a career-high 22 points — his second straight game with a career high — and Tyler Bey added 15 points and nine rebounds. Shane Gatling added eight points and a career-high six assists.

Jaylen Nowell led UW with 19 points.

The Huskies shot 55.1 percent from the field (27-for-49), including a red-hot 19-for30 in the first half, paving the way for a 48-35 lead at intermission. The Buffs, who battled foul trouble for much of the night, connected on 44.4 percent of their field goal tries (24-for-54).

While obviously disappointed with his team’s loss, CU head coach Tad Boyle still said he was proud of the way Colorado battled back.

“I thought there were some really good things that came out of tonight’s game, out of a loss,” Boyle said. “I don’t say that very often, but I thought with all the things we battled tonight — our defensive atrociousness, them scoring 48 points and shooting 63 percent — as bad as that was, for our guys to battle back, with McKinley going out and the foul trouble we battled all night long, is a testament to our guys.”

Continue reading story here

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January 11th 

… CU in the Arena … 

Buffs will need to crack Huskies zone defense to pull off an upset

Related … “UW men at Colorado: Projected starting lineups and scouting reports” … from the Seattle Times

Related … “D’Shawn Schwartz putting it all together going into CU Buffs’ showdown against Washington” … from the Daily Camera

From CUBuffs.com … If the Colorado Buffaloes want to prove they belong in the conversation when it comes to Pac-12 contenders, they have the perfect opportunity Saturday night to make such a statement.

Fresh off a 92-60 thumping of Washington State on Thursday, the Buffs (10-5 overall, 1-2 Pac-12)  hit their home floor again Saturday when they play host to Washington in an 8 p.m. game at the CU Events Center.

The Huskies are already proving they belong in the contender discussion. Currently boasting the best NCAA NET ranking of any team in the Pac-12 (No. 44), the Huskies improved to 11-4 overall and 2-0 in Pac-12 play Thursday with a convincing 69-53 win at Utah. It was the same Utah team that won at Arizona State and took Arizona to overtime last weekend — and Washington dominated the game, holding the Utes to a season low in points and 22 under their season average.

That the Huskies are making a living on defense — they are second in the Pac-12, holding opponents to just 65.6 points per game — is no surprise. Second-year head coach Mike Hopkins, a disciple of Syracuse Jim Boeheim, has made the 2-3 zone defense a Huskies staple.

“It’s all they do,” CU head coach Tad Boyle said. “When it’s all you do, you’re usually pretty good at it.”

Indeed, while most teams will play a variety of defenses throughout the course of a game, alternating between man-to-man and zone, the Huskies play 40 minutes of 2-3 zone — and they have the experience and athletes to make it work. The Huskies start three seniors, including 6-foot-5 guard Matisse Thybulle, last year’s Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year. Throw in another senior guard in 6-0 David Crisp, along with a front line that includes 6-8 senior Noah Dickerson and 6-9 sophomore Hameir Wright and talented 6-4 sophomore Jaylen Nowell, and it is a formidable lineup.

Continue reading story here

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January 10th

… CU in the Arena … 

Buffs rebound with a 92-60 rout of Washington State

Related … “Bey scores 26 as Colorado beats Washington State 92-60” ... from ESPN

Related … “Shooting touch returns for CU Buffs basketball in rout of Washington State” … from the Daily Camera

From CUBuffs.com … Home cooking appeared to be just what the doctor ordered for the Colorado Buffaloes on Thursday night.

The Buffs returned to the CU Events Center for their first home game in more than a month, and treated themselves to a runaway 92-60 win over Washington State.

Colorado ended a two-game losing streak and improved to 10-5 overall and 1-2 in Pac-12 play while the Cougars fell to 7-8, 0-2.

Thursday’s effort was the textbook definition of a balanced effort. The Buffs put four players in double figures, led by a career-high 26 points from sophomore Tyler Bey, who also pulled down 10 rebounds for his seventh career double-double. Sophomore forward D’Shawn Schwartz added a career-high 16 points, seven rebounds and a career-high four assists; sophomore point guard McKinley Wright IV chipped in 10 points and seven assists; and junior guard Shane Gatling scored a career-high 17 with a career-best five 3-pointers. Freshman Evan Battey, meanwhile, had a career-high 14 rebounds.

The Buffs also regained their shooting eye, which had abandoned them on a recent swing through Arizona. After shooting just 34.2 percent from the field in a pair of losses in the desert, CU hit 35 of its 64 field goal attempts (54.7 percent) against the Cougars, while holding WSU to just 36.8 percent from the floor (21-for-57). Colorado was 11-for-27 from 3-point range and 24-for-37 from inside the arc.

The Buffs also held a 41-27 edge on the boards and finished with a season-high 20 assists and just 12 turnovers, their fewest since having just eight against Colorado State in early December.

Marvin Cannon led WSU with 14 points.

“It’s nice to see the ball go in the basket,” head coach Tad Boyle said. “We haven’t seen that in a while. We got some guys going. Making 11 threes is obviously big. We knew we were going to see a lot of zone, we didn’t know how much. They started out man, and when they went to there zone, we did a good job there, too.”

Continue reading story here

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January 9th

… CU in the Arena … 

Buffs hope to end skid with Washington State in town (Thurs., 7:00 p.m., MT, Pac-12 Networks)

Related … “Staying on floor for CU basketball critical for Tyler Bey” … from the Daily Camera

From CUBuffs.com … With their worst loss of the season — an 83-61 loss at Arizona State on Saturday — still fresh in their minds, there is no doubt the Colorado Buffaloes are glad to finally be playing on their home floor this week.

After a month-long stretch that saw CU play six in a row away from home, the Buffs return to the Events Center this week for a pair of Pac-12 games, with Washington State on tap Thursday (7 p.m.) and Washington on Saturday (8 p.m.).

“I think we’re all excited to get back out here and be in front of our home fans,” sophomore point guard McKinley Wright IV said. “We’re definitely excited to have the opportunity to get back on track. We have a good opportunity and we have to take advantage of it.”

Indeed, with the 9-5 Buffs already in an 0-2 hole in the Pac-12 standings, the weekend represents a crucial juncture. With four losses in the their last six games — and their next three after this weekend back on the road — it is imperative that the Buffs find a way to cure their recent ills and get into the conference win column.

Or, as head coach Tad Boyle put it earlier in the week, “We have to get ourselves out of this funk.”

Thursday night, the Buffs will be facing a team in a similar situation. The Cougars (7-7, 0-1) have lost four in a row and are 0-6 away from home this year. While they lead the Pac-12 in scoring, averaging 81.1 points per game, they are 11th in the conference in defense, giving up 76.7 points per game.

The Buffs have never lost to WSU in Boulder, a 7-0 stretch that includes a 6-0 mark since CU joined the Pac-12 in 2011-12.

Continue reading story here

Tad Boyle’s contract renewed – Rick George: “I’m very confident in the direction Tad is taking this program” 

From the Daily Camera … Even with his Colorado men’s basketball team mired in an often unsightly slump, the confidence in head coach Tad Boyle remains high among his superiors within the CU athletic department.

That fact was confirmed yet again in recent weeks, as the automatic one-year extension that is written into the terms of Boyle’s contract was renewed for another season, keeping CU’s leader under contract through the 2023-24 season.

Per the terms of that contract, the one-year extension is automatically invoked unless one side — either Boyle and his agent, or the university — gives notice about opting out of the extension prior to Dec. 31 each year. CU athletic director Rick George confirmed to BuffZone.com neither side gave notice before the recent deadline, adding another year to a contract that pays Boyle a shade under $1.425 million per year in base and supplemental salary.

The automatic extension simply adds a year to the agreement while the terms of the deal remain unchanged. The extension is expected to be approved at the Board of Regents meeting Feb. 13-14.

Continue reading story here

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January 8th

… CU in the Arena … 

Former Arizona and USC assistants accept plea deals

Related … “Even with conviction now in books, NCAA still mum regarding FBI probe” … from the Daily Camera

From the Daily Camera … Former Arizona assistant coach Emanuel Richardson has reached an agreement with New York prosecutors to plead guilty to one count of federal funds bribery at a hearing later this month.

Craig Murdock, Richardson’s New Orleans-based attorney, said Monday the plea agreement for the Jan. 22 hearing contains stipulated sentencing guidelines range of 18 to 24 months, though the sentence is up to the judge.

Murdock added the plea is not part of a deal requiring him to cooperate against others, but that could always change. Richardson also could change his mind prior to the hearing and not plead guilty.

“Mr. Richardson is remorseful about what transpired,” Murdock said. “It’s a hiccup in a career in which he’s had a positive effect on many young men in and out of basketball. This is something he did. It’s not who he is.”

A spokesman for the prosecutors declined comment.

Richardson was among 10 people arrested as part of a federal probe into college basketball recruiting practices in September 2017, including assistant coaches at four prominent schools.

Former Southern California assistant coach Tony Bland pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit bribery last Wednesday, admitting he accepted $4,100 in cash to steer players at the school to certain financial advisers and business managers.

Continue reading story here

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January 7th

… CU in the Arena … 

Tad Boyle: “We’re going to fix our defensive woes. We’re going to fix our rebounding woes”

Related ... “Eli Parquet ready to help CU basketball if number called again” … from the Daily Camera

From CUBuffs.com … It’s been a month since the Colorado Buffaloes played a game on their home floor.

It hasn’t been a month to remember. Since a home win over Illinois-Chicago on Dec. 8 bumped their record to 7-1, the 9-5 Buffs have lost four of six, including a pair of losses at Arizona and Arizona State last weekend to open their Pac-12 schedule.

But this week, Tad Boyle‘s Buffs finally get to practice at home and stay there for games. The Buffs host Washington State on Thursday (7 p.m.) before welcoming Washington to the CU Events Center on Saturday for an 8 p.m. contest.

Monday, they set about the task of correcting the problems that have plagued them for much of the last four weeks.

“We came back and here’s what we’re going to fix,” Boyle said after Monday’s workout. “We’re going to fix our defensive woes. We’re going to fix our rebounding woes and we’re going to become better in our zone offense.

Continue reading story here

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January 6th

… CU in the Arena … 

Buffs hoping first home game in a month will help spur on the offense

From the Daily Camera … If there is a silver lining for the reeling Colorado men’s basketball team, it’s that the Buffaloes are returning home.

Thursday’s initial Pac-12 Conference date at the CU Events Center against Washington State will be the first time the Buffs have played at home since a Dec. 8 win against Illinois-Chicago. After picking up a road win at New Mexico a three days later, the Buffs were 8-1, averaging 84.3 points and shooting an impressive .486 from the field.

What a difference a month can make. Despite that win at The Pit in New Mexico, the Buffs’ longest road swing since 1986 has not been a kind one, a run futility capped by Arizona State’s 83-61 rout of the Buffaloes Saturday afternoon.

With three more road games in a row awaiting CU after games this week against WSU and Washington, the home cooking better settle well for coach Tad Boyle’s club. Asked after Saturday’s loss if his club is battling a collective confidence issue, CU’s leader said he believed the matter is less about confidence than allowing the negative momentum swings to continue snowballing.

“I like the way we’re practicing. I like our demeanor,” Boyle said. “I don’t feel like (it’s confidence), but when you see guys’ heads go down when they miss shots, that’s when mental toughness has to take hold. When you miss open shots and you’re struggling offensively, you can’t let it affect you on the other end of the floor. That’s easier said than done. Guys want to shoot the ball well. They’re frustrated when they miss open shots.”

Continue reading story here

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January 5th

… CU in the Arena … 

Colorado embarrassed on the road by Arizona State, 83-61

Game recap: “White scores 19, Arizona State rolls over Colorado 83-61” … from ESPN

From CUBuffs.com …  A trip to the desert proved to be no cure for the Colorado Buffaloes’ recent ills away from home.

Playing their sixth straight game away from the CU Events Center on Saturday, the Buffs fell behind early by double digits to Arizona State and never recovered, dropping an 83-61 decision to the Sun Devils at Wells Fargo Arena.

The loss, the Buffs’ fourth in their last five games, dropped their record to 9-5 overall and 0-2 in Pac-12 play while ASU improved to 10-4, 1-1.

McKinley Wright IV led Colorado with 12 points and D’Shawn Schwartz and Daylen Kountz each added 10. The Buffs were cold all afternoon from the field, finishing just 19-for-58 from the field (32.8 percent) while also losing the rebound battle, 42-28.

Romello White led five Sun Devils in double figures, finishing with 19 points as ASU shot a red-hot 57.1 percent from the field (32-for-56). ASU’s 83 points are the most given up by the Buffs this year.

“We’re just not making shots right now,” head coach Tad Boyle said. “We just can’t throw it in the ocean. When that happens, you have to come back and get stops. But tonight, we weren’t good enough in any aspect of the game. We weren’t good enough in rebounding, we weren’t good enough in taking care of the ball, we weren’t good enough offensively, we weren’t good enough defensively. It was just a tail whipping. We deserved it and we got it.”

Continue reading story here

NEXT UP: The Buffs finally return home for a pair of games next week, beginning with a Thursday matchup with Washington State (7 p.m.) at the CU Events Center, followed by an 8 p.m. Saturday game with Washington.

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January 4th

… CU in the Arena … 

CU looks to get offense going against Arizona State (Sat., 4:00 p.m., MT, Pac-12 Networks)

From the Daily Camera … Where oh where have all the points gone?

That is the most pressing question facing head coach Tad Boyle as the Colorado men’s basketball team attempts to get back on track Saturday afternoon in a Pac-12 Conference battle at Arizona State. When the Buffaloes raced out of the gate to an 8-1 start, albeit against mostly middle-of-the-pack mid-major programs, it was behind an offense both high-octane and versatile.

While losing three of the past four games, that offense has practically been non-existent. After scoring a season-low 62 points — in overtime, no less — two weeks ago at Hawaii, CU’s offense hit a new low Thursday night in a 64-56 loss at Arizona in the Pac-12 opener.

Continue reading story here

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January 3rd

… CU in the Arena … 

Buffs fall on the road to Arizona in Pac-12 opener

Related … “Turnovers again doom CU Buffs basketball at Arizona in Pac-12 opener” … from the Daily Camera

... Related … “Deleon Brown doesn’t make the grades, ruled ineligible for CU basketball” … from the Daily Camera

From CUBuffs.com … Colorado started fast and finished strong Thursday night in its Pac-12 opener, but a difficult stretch in the middle of game proved too much to overcome, as CU dropped a 64-56 decision to Arizona at the McKale Center.

The loss, CU’s third in the last four games, dropped the Buffs to 9-4 overall (0-1 in Pac-12) while Arizona improved to 10-4, 1-0. The loss was CU’s seventh in as many tries at McKale since the Buffs joined the Pac-12 in 2011-12. Since the beginning of the 2013 season, Arizona is 90-4 on its home floor.

After trailing by as much as 17 in the second half, the Buffs cut the margin to seven, 57-50, with 2:42 still left to play on a D’Shawn Schwartz 3-pointer.

But that was as close as the Buffs could come. Arizona build the lead back to double digits, then held the Buffs off in the final minute.

Sophomore McKinley Wright IV led CU with 17 points and Lucas Siewert added 11, but they were the only Buffs in double figures as Colorado shot just 19-for-53 from the field (35.8 percent). Schwartz had eight points and eight rebounds for CU and Tyler Bey had 11 rebounds and four points.

Brandon Williams led Arizona with 14 points as the Wildcats shot 25-for-58 (43.1 percent) and Brandon Randolph added 11.

CU was once again plagued by turnovers, committing 17 — including six by Wright — which led to 14 Arizona points. The Wildcats also dominated the game inside, outscoring Colorado 38-18 in the paint.

“We have some offensive woes right now,” CU head coach Tad Boyle said. “When you combine 35 percent shooting with 17 turnovers, you put a lot of pressure on your defense. I thought our defense was great in the second half, it really was. But our offensive efficiency is just not very good right now. I’ve got to do a better job as a coach to get these guys to understand that it’s about the execution. When you get good shots you have to be able to stick them in the basket. I don’t care if you’re in the paint, I don’t care if you’re wide open from three. You have to be able to capitalize.”

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Oregon star center Bol Bol may be out for the rest of the season

From Duck Territory … Freshman star center Bol Bol‘s future at Oregon is likely going to be over, according to multiple sources close to the Oregon basketball program.

Bol has missed the team’s last four games with a left foot injury and the outlook on his return to the team this season gets grimmer by the day. According to sources who can’t speak on the record, Bol suffered a stress fracture in his left foot and his timeline to return from injury will likely keep him out of the remainder of the 2018-19 season.

Multiple sources have told DuckTerritory.com Bol is likely going to begin rehab work ahead of the 2019 NBA Draft with basketball and medical trainers outside the Oregon basketball program. Bol has spent most of the last two weeks back home in Kansas with his family mulling over his options to rehab his injury. Multiple sources have told DuckTerritory they do not believe Bol will play the rest of the year, but a final decision has not been made.

“I would be completely shocked if Bol played the rest of this year,” one source said.

Continue reading story here

Jon Wilner picks CU to finish 5th in Pac-12

From the San Jose Mercury News … The past eight weeks? Irrelevant.

The inexplicable losses … the blowouts … the meltdowns … the no-shows?

Never happened. None of it.

At least, that’s the approach every program should adopt as conference play begins today across the Pac-12.

Outside the 12 bubbles, however, the carnage cannot be forgotten (unfortunately), and it has altered our view of teams, players and coaches.

Hotline projections, derived from a blend of preseason expectations and in-season performance …

*** All-conference

Third team

G Colorado’s McKinley Wright

*** Order of finish

1. Oregon: Best combination of high-end talent, experience and coach. But injuries — it’s not just Bol — make the Ducks a fragile frontrunner.

5. Colorado: Quietly collecting the victories, but until the Buffaloes prove they can do it at sea level, we’ll slot them on the second tier.

Read full story here

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Tad Boyle: “If you want to have a chance to win a championship, you have to win on the road”

Related … “Fresh start awaits CU men’s basketball in Pac-12 opener at Arizona” … from the Daily Camera

Related … “Pac-12 basketball: Who will rise above mediocrity in wide-open league race?” … from the Daily Camera

From CUBuffs.com …  In what might be the most wide-open Pac-12 in recent years — not a single conference team is ranked in the nation’s top 25 — the Colorado Buffaloes believe opportunity awaits this week as they begin conference play.

But taking advantage of that opportunity won’t be easy. It begins with a weekend trip to the desert, where they will open conference play with games at Arizona (7 p.m. Thursday) and Arizona State (4 p.m. Saturday) and an eye on collecting at least one road win — a rarity in conference play.

How rare? Last season, Colorado won just one road game, a victory at UCLA.

But this year, the 9-3 Buffs already have two road wins under their belts, and would like to push that number to at least seven — which means they will need five Pac-12 road wins to hit their goal.

“Every league — it doesn’t matter if you’re in the Pac-12 or the Big Sky or the ACC — if you want to finish in the top half of the league and have a chance to win a championship, you have to win on the road,” CU head coach Tad Boyle said Tuesday, just before the Buffs left for their Arizona trip. “You don’t have to win every game on the road, but you have to win games on the road. … You can’t win five unless you win the first one.”

Continue reading story here

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January 2nd

… CU in the Arena … 

Pac-12 without a ranked team for the first time since the 2011-12 season

From azdesertswarm.com … Every Pac-12 school has at least one thing in common — none of their men’s basketball teams are ranked.

For the first time since 2011-12, zero Pac-12 schools find themselves inside the AP Top 25. The Arizona State Sun Devils, who were ranked 17th last week, were upset at home by Princeton and subsequently fell out of the polls.

Perhaps even more shuddering is that ASU is the only Pac-12 school to have even received votes this week, as it garnered 116, the most among non-ranked teams.

The Pac-12 ranks as the sixth-best conference in the country by KenPom, the worst among the major conferences. The so-called Conference of Champions has a losing record against the West Coast Conference this year.

Some embarrassing results for the Pac-12 this week included UCLA losing at home to Liberty by 15 points (then firing Steve Alford), Washington State falling to Santa Clara in Spokane, and Cal losing at home to Seattle, the Redhawks’ second win over a Pac-12 school.

As of Dec. 27, ESPN projected that two Pac-12 teams will make the NCAA Tournament this season — ASU and Oregon. However, that was before the Sun Devils lost to Princeton.

KenPom rates the Ducks as the conference’s best team … all the way down at No. 39. Them and ASU are the only Pac-12 teams rated inside KenPom’s Top 50. One-third of the conference — Stanford, Utah, Washington State and Cal — ranks outside the Top 100. Cal ranks outside the Top 200.

Every Pac-12 team has at least three losses heading into conference play, which mercifully begins this week.

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January 1st – Happy New Year!

… CU in the Arena …

Evan Battey coming into his own as conference play opens – Thurs., 7:00 p.m., MT, FS1

Related … “Building on solid start the goal for CU basketball freshman Daylen Kountz” … from the Daily Camera

From CUBuffs.com … Colorado redshirt freshman Evan Battey is steadily coming into his own as a Division I college basketball player.

Battey, whose much-publicized return to the game has been a focal point of nearly every Buffs television broadcast, is slowly but surely shaking off the rust of a two-year layoff from playing competitively.

Now, that layoff — due first to ineligibility issues, then a life-threatening stroke — is becoming more and more of a memory from the distant past. After 12 games for the 9-3 Buffs, Battey is the team’s fourth-leading scorer (8.7 points per game) and fourth-leading rebounder (4.3 rpg), while currently just sixth on the team in minutes played (21.1 per game).

Equally importantly, he is displaying the versatility that makes him such a rarity for a 6-foot-8, 265-pound forward. He is fourth on the team in assists (13) and steals (7), leads the team in offensive rebounds (25) and is shooting a respectable 44.2 percent from the field.

“I think the rust is going away,” Battey said. “I still find myself in situations now and then that I haven’t been in for a long time, and I won’t finish or I won’t get a rebound. But I’m not experiencing as many of those situations anymore. Overall, I think I’m back — it’s just a matter of not tricking myself into thinking there’s something I can’t do. I just have to play.”

Battey’s season has already been one of many “firsts” in his comeback — first game, first basket, first win, first start, etc.

This week, he will add to the list when he plays in his first Pac-12 game. The Buffs open conference play Thursday with a 7 p.m. game at Arizona — one of the most raucous environments in the conference — followed by a 4 p.m. Saturday matchup at Arizona State.

Continue reading story here

… Note … With Arizona State’s loss to Princeton, the Sun Devils fell out of the Associated Press rankings, leaving exactly zero Pac-12 teams in the rankings as teams shift to conference play … 

Pac-12 standings heading into conference play

TEAMSCONFOVERALL
 Arizona State0-09-3
 Colorado0-09-3
 Arizona0-09-4
 Oregon0-09-4
 Oregon State0-08-4
 Washington0-08-4
 Stanford0-07-5
 UCLA0-07-6
 USC0-07-6
 Washington State0-07-6
 Utah0-06-6
 California0-05-7

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