Colorado Basketball – March, 2023

March 30th 

… CU in the Arena … 

Women’s basketball coach JR Payne receives a contract extension with a “huge” raise

From the Daily Camera … After leading the Colorado women’s basketball team to its first Sweet 16 in 20 years, head coach JR Payne has a new contract and a raise.

On Thursday, CU announced it has signed Payne to a new five-year contract that extends through the 2027-28 season. The new deal replaces the contract extension she signed in June of 2021. That deal ran through the 2025-26 season at an annual salary of $417,500.

CU did not announce Payne’s new salary, but a BuffZone source said the raise is “huge.”

“It’s awesome and I don’t want to be anywhere else,” Payne told BuffZone about getting a new contract. “We love it here and our family’s happy. It’s great. … We’re thrilled to be here.”

Originally introduced as CU’s head coach on March 28, 2016, Payne, 45, has posted a 119-93 record in her seven seasons with the Buffs, while leading them to the NCAA Tournament twice and the WNIT twice.

Already the second-longest tenured head coach in program history, Payne’s 119 wins rank second to Ceal Barry (427-242 in 22 seasons).

“JR Payne has done an outstanding job with our basketball program,” CU athletic director Rick George said. “I have a lot of confidence in her ability to lead and create an outstanding culture in her program and I’m excited that we have extended her contract. After reaching the NCAA Tournament for the second straight season and making a run to the Sweet 16, I felt that this was the right time to make this change to her contract. I look forward to the program continuing its upward trajectory moving forward.”

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March 28th

… CU in the Arena … 

CU signee Cody Williams participates in the McDonald’s All-American game

… McDonald’s All-American game … Tuesday night, 7:00 p.m., MT, ESPN … 

From SBNation … The 2023 boys McDonald’s All-American Game has some obvious points of intrigue as the top high school basketball players in the country come to Houston for the annual All-Star showcase. This has long been considered a star-making event as the last chance for players to make impressions before the final recruiting rankings are locked in. Having NBA scouts in the gym only raises the stakes and the level of play during practice sessions, which can be more meaningful than the game itself.

The big question coming into this year’s McDonald’s All-American Game is the race for the No. 1 overall player. There is typically a consensus choice for the best player in the class by the time the All-Star circuit arrives, but that’s not the case this season. ESPN has Philadelphia-bred wing Justin Edwards at No. 1247 Sports has Atlanta-based point guard Isaiah Collier in the top spot, and On3 has Arizona native Cody Williams ranked first in the class. Will anyone stand out and solidify themselves as the No. 1 prospect during the week?

Beyond that, everyone else is wondering what’s next for Bronny James. James was selected for the McDonald’s Game and still hasn’t made his decision on where he’ll play next, though most expect he’ll go the college route.

Cody Williams is the fastest-riser because of his NBA brother

Jalen Williams has been one of the best rookies in the NBA this season after the Oklahoma City Thunder selected him at No. 12 overall following a standout three-year college career at Santa Clara. College evaluators who let Williams slip to the mid-major level were determined not to do the same thing with his younger brother Cody Williams. Jalen’s rise into a lottery pick and stud rookie sure seems to have helped his brother, who is suddenly the fastest-rising prospect in his high school class.

Cody Williams was ranked around No. 80 in his class after his junior year at Perry High School in Arizona, according to Rivals. By the time he committed to Colorado, he was ranked No. 42 in his class. Now Williams is being projected as the No. 2 overall pick ESPN’s early 2024 NBA mock draft.

Williams has a great frame for a wing at 6’8 with long arms (his brother measured at 6’6 with a 7’2 wingspan). He’s comfortable handling and passing the ball on the perimeter, and has shown improved finishing craft near the basket. His three-point shot has been streaky to this point, and will certainly be a big factor in his long-term evaluation. It’s tough to know what to make of such a fast riser so late in the process, but Williams certainly won’t be flying under the radar like his big brother did.

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Tad Boyle to serve as head coach for USA Basketball U19 National Team at World Cup

From … University of Colorado’s Tad Boyle will serve as head coach of the USA Basketball Men’s U19 National Team at the 2023 FIBA U19 Men’s World Cup, June 24-July 2 in Debrecen, Hungary, USA Basketball announced on Friday.

Boyle will be assisted by Mike Boynton Jr. (Oklahoma State) and Leon Rice (Boise State). The trio coached the 2022 USA Basketball Men’s U18 Junior National Team to a gold medal at the FIBA U18 Men’s Americas Championship in Tijuana, Mexico, last summer.

Boyle’s time with USA Basketball dates to the 2013 USA Men’s World University Games Team training camp, where he served as a court coach. He was also a member of the 2015 Pan American Games in Toronto, where the U.S. took home a bronze medal. Additionally, Boyle was an assistant coach for the 2017 Men’s U19 Junior National Team that won bronze in the 2017 FIBA U19 World Cup in Egypt.

Boyle has 17 years of collegiate head coaching experience, the last 13 with the Buffaloes. He is the institution’s all-time leader in men’s basketball wins coached with 272 and has led Colorado to postseason play in 11 of 12 possible appearances (no postseason in 2020), including five NCAA Tournaments. Boyle is the first coach in school history to lead the program to three-straight NCAA Tournaments in 2012, 2013 and 2014.

“I’m once again honored and humbled to have the opportunity to coach with USA Basketball and this summer with the 19-and-under national team,” Boyle said. “Anytime you have the opportunity to represent your country, it’s a responsibility that needs to be taken very seriously, and I’m looking forward to doing that and working with a bunch of great young men.

“I’m very excited to be working with Mike Boynton and Leon Rice for another summer. We had great synergy and chemistry last year as we won the gold medal with the 18-and-under national team. We look forward to the same challenges as we go to Hungary to try and accomplish the same.”

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March 24th – Game Day!

… CU in the Arena … 

Buffs rally falls short against Iowa, 87-77, ending CU’s NCAA tournament run

From … Colorado staged a furious comeback in the fourth quarter Friday but the Buffaloes came up just short as CU dropped an 87-77 decision to Iowa in the NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 at Climate Pledge Arena.

The sixth-seeded Buffs, who were ranked 21st in the nation and were making their first Sweet 16 appearance since 2003, saw their season come to an end at 25-9. Third-seeded Iowa — ranked third in the nation — improved to 29-6.

Colorado led by one at the half, 40-39, but the Hawkeyes took control with a 13-0 run early in the third period. Iowa still led by as much as 14 early in the fourth period before the Buffs rallied to shave the deficit to four, 78-74, with 1:31 to play.

But that was as close as Colorado could come as the Hawkeyes hit their free throws in the final minute to keep the Buffs at bay.

HOW IT HAPPENED: Colorado fell behind early as Iowa jumped out to a 15-5 lead.

The Buffs didn’t flinch. Led by two 3-pointers from Frida Formann and a pair of buckets inside from Aaronette Vonleh, Colorado manufactured a 10-0 run to tie the game as the Buffaloes were more than happy to shoot over Iowa’s zone defense.

From that point, the game see-sawed, with five lead changes before halftime.

Colorado trailed by one, 23-22, after one quarter but used a 7-0 run midway through the second period to take a 37-32 lead. Kindyll Wetta had five points in the surge and Formann had two of her 19 first-half points to give CU a 37-32 lead with just more than four minutes left in the half.

Iowa then manufactured a 7-0 run to regain the lead, but Colorado took a 40-39 edge into the break thanks to a Tameiya Sadler layup just before the half.

But the Hawkeyes grabbed control after intermission, putting together a 13-0 run in the first 4:20 of the half to take a 54-42 lead. Colorado called time out but Iowa extended its lead to as much as 15 before the Buffs shaved the deficit to 11, 64-53, by the end of the third quarter.

Colorado shot just 5-for-15 in the third period while the Hawkeyes were 9-for-13. The Buffs were also hampered by foul trouble in the third period as Formann — who scored 19 points in the first half — drew her fourth foul and had just two points in the period.

Formann then drew her fifth foul less than four minutes into the fourth quarter, ending her night and dealing a blow to Colorado’s offensive attack.

But the Buffs wouldn’t quit. After falling behind by 14 early in the final period, Colorado staged a comeback. Sadler and Quay Miller each hit 3-pointers in a 10-4 run and with just more than four minutes to play, CU had narrowed the deficit to six, 76-70.

Colorado’s surge forced Iowa to call a timeout. The Hawkeyes quickly bumped their cushion back to eight after the break but the Buffs responded with a Vonleh bucket and with 2:31 to play, Colorado still trailed by just six, 78-72.

The Buffs then cut the margin to four a minute later on a Jaylyn Sherrod steal and bucket, sending a surge through the CU fans on hand.

But the Hawkeyes pushed their cushion back to six on a Monika Czinano basket with just 1:11 left on the clock and the Buffs came up empty on their next possession.

Iowa then hit its free throws in the final minute to keep the Buffs at bay and end their NCAA Tournament run.

No. 6 seed CU women taking on No. 3 seed Iowa for a berth in the Elite Eight (5:30 p.m., MT, ESPN)

Related … Jaylyn Sherrod at heart of CU Buffs’ NCAA Tournament success … from the Daily Camera

Related … CU Buffs women’s basketball locked in, ready to face Iowa … from the Daily Camera 

From … Colorado’s whirlwind week continues with a Sweet Sixteen matchup against No. 3 ranked and second-seeded Iowa on Friday (5:30 p.m. MT/ESPN). The Buffaloes will be looking to secure their first Elite Eight appearance since 2002.

The Buffs have been in three different time zones in the span of 72 hours.

CU (25-8) started the week with a thrilling 61-53 overtime win over third-seeded Duke in Durham, N.C. The Buffs flew back to Colorado on Tuesday and had a quick layover in Boulder before packing back up and jetting off to Seattle on Wednesday.

“This week has definitely been a whirlwind,” head coach JR Payne explained. “We played such a late game [on Monday]. I think we tipped off at 9 p.m. in Durham. We were up really late, of course, that night and then flew back the next day. It was maybe about 24 hours later we were already back on the plane to come West.”

“It was definitely just a quick turnaround,” sophomore Aaronette Vonleh added. “We got home Tuesday morning and we’re gone the next afternoon. It was just go home, do laundry, pack your suitcase, and leave kind thing.  It’s definitely a lot, especially with school and everything, trying to make sure you’re getting your assignments done. But it’s just an exciting time, so we’re just making it work.”

The Buffs will be making their seventh Sweet Sixteen appearance when they tip off a Climate Pledge Arena. The path to CU’s six previous Sweet Sixteens all started in Boulder. This year’s trip is the first time Colorado has advanced this far in the tournament without playing on its home court.

“We have such a storied tradition of success,” Payne said of the team’s history. “Ceal Barry was our coach and [went to] many Sweet 16s, several Elite 8s, and things like that. We knew that the potential was here, although it had been a long time since we had been on this stage. We believed in our ability to recruit the right type of players that could thrive at Colorado and it’s been definitely a challenge in seven years to recruit and work and grind and it’s just been a long road.  We knew that the potential was there, so we’re incredibly proud to have been able to build it into this type of team.”

The Buffs have been tabbed as somewhat of a surprise team in this year’s tournament by some of the nation’s “experts.” Many of the prognosticators had Middle Tennessee, the 11th seed, beating CU in the first round and then the Buffs were heavy underdogs to Duke on its home court.

While it’s unusual to have a Power 5 school designated as a Cinderella story, it’s something the Buffs have embraced all season long.

“I think we could play anyone and we would feel that way, just because it’s so in our DNA to just focus on what we need to do to be successful,” Payne expressed. “We do that in our pre-season training. We do it throughout our pre-season games. We’re really big on identifying our roles, how can I help us be successful, and kind of lock into those.  We revisit those throughout the year.”

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March 23rd

… CU in the Arena … 

Two more Buffs – Nique Clifford and Quincy Allen – join Lawson Lovering in the Transfer Portal

From the Daily Camera … Everyone knew there would be changes within the Colorado men’s basketball team this offseason. That starting center Lawson Lovering was the first to hit the transfer portal was a shock to just about everyone that follows the Buffaloes program.

That includes head coach Tad Boyle.

On Thursday, Boyle spoke with BuffZone regarding Lovering’s decision, and he confirmed that Nique Clifford and Quincy Allen also will be leaving the CU program via the transfer portal.

The loss of Clifford, an in-state recruit from Colorado Springs, and Allen were far less surprising than the loss of Lovering, who started 34 of 35 games for the Buffs this season and was consistently lauded by Boyle for his steady defense.\

“It was a shock and surprise and I’m still scratching my head a little bit,” Boyle said. “But we’re moving forward. For 24 hours, I was down in the dumps. I was disappointed. I was shocked. Name the emotion, I had it. But today I’m fine. We’re going to be fine. The University of Colorado is a great place to go to school. It’s a great place to play basketball. It’s our job to go out and find somebody who can come in and help us compete for and win championships. That’s what we’re going to do.”

Clifford started all 35 games for the Buffs, but while he may have been a junior, in his second year as a full-time rotation player, he suffered through a classic sophomore slump. While playing almost the exact same number of total minutes as last year, Clifford endured significant drops in scoring average (6.7 to 5.9), rebounding average (4.6 to 3.9), field goal percentage (.453 to .374), 3-point percentage (.400 to .288), and free throw percentage (.667 to .532).

Allen’s departure is the least surprising of the entire trio, as one of the prizes of CU’s highly-touted 2021 recruiting class (Allen was ranked No. 71 overall by 247Sports) appeared in only 11 games, logging more than five minutes just once when he played 17 minutes in a home loss against USC on Feb. 23. In limited chances, Allen shot just .292 overall (7-for-24) with a 3-for-15 mark on 3-pointers. The 6-foot-8 wing missed his entire true freshman season of 2021-22 due to a hip injury.

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March 21st

… CU in the Arena … 

Center Lawson Lovering enters the Transfer Portal

From On3.comColorado center Lawson Lovering has entered the NCAA Transfer Portal, according to On3’s Jamie Shaw.

He just finished his sophomore season with the Buffaloes, starting all 34 games at center. Lovering averaged 4.9 points and 4.7 rebounds per game. He also made only 42.1% of his free throw attempts.

The 7-foot-1 center played in 18 games off the bench as a freshman.

Lovering was a four-star recruit and No. 64 overall recruit in the 2021 On3 Industry Ranking. The On3 Industry is a proprietary algorithm that compiles ratings and rankings from all four major recruiting media services.


March 20th – Game Day!

… CU in the Arena … 

CU takes down No. 3 seed Duke on the road in overtime, 61-53, to advance to Sweet Sixteen for the first time since 2003

Related … CU Buffs stun Duke to advance to Sweet 16 … From the Daily Camera

From … How Sweet (16) It Is! The Colorado women’s basketball team is headed to the Sweet 16 for the seventh time in program history and the first time in 20 years on the strength of a 61-53 overtime win against Duke Monday night at Cameron Indoor Stadium

Quay Miller broke out of her recent shooting slump in style, scoring a game-high 17 points and pulling down a game-high 14 rebounds. Jaylyn Sherrod added 14 points and six rebounds and Aaronette Vonleh scored 12 points with six rebounds of her own.

“I freaking love my team,” coach JR Payne said afterward. “I love each and every one of them. I’m so unbelievably proud of our tenacity, our ability to just never wilt. When things get hard, we dig in, we lean into each other and just continue to fight and play defense. Our team did a really great job of preparing in a short amount of time. Super proud and onward we go.”

Colorado advances in the Seattle Regional where the Buffs will face No. 2 seed Iowa Friday (5:30 p.m MT/ESPN). The other side of the bracket has No. 5 seed Louisville facing No. 8 seed Ole Miss, who beat top-seeded Stanford.

“I knew we could do it,” Miller exclaimed. “It was just a matter of actually doing it. Right now. I just feel extremely blessed.”

Colorado got off to a quick start, opening up a 15-2 lead in the first quarter and Sherrod was clutch at the end of the fourth quarter, scoring the game’s final four points in the final 91 seconds, helping the Buffs to a 15-3 run to close the game, outscoring the Blue Devils 11-3 in overtime.

“Being here for four years, from where we started to where we are now, I’m just really proud of this program and how far we’ve come and the work we put in, the hours, the belief when nobody else believed,” Sherrod added. “It was tough. It’s hard being in a group and working toward something you can’t see in front of you. All the 6 a.m’s. The runs up the mountain. It’s all preparing for this moment. When you’re doing it, you don’t really see that outcome, but it’s all worth it in the end when you get to this point.”

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CU women battling Duke for an NCAA Sweet Sixteen berth (7:00 p.m., MT, ESPNU)

From the Daily Camera … Securing the program’s first NCAA Tournament victory in 20 years required some celebration.

“We definitely spent a good amount of time after the game, just enjoying that feeling and living in the moment,” Colorado’s Aaronette Vonleh said about an 82-60 win against Middle Tennessee on Saturday.

By Sunday, that moment was gone and it was onto the next.

The sixth-seeded and 21st-ranked Buffaloes will face third-seeded and 13th-ranked Duke on Monday at Cameron Indoor Stadium in the second round of the NCAA women’s basketball tournament.

Monday’s winner will advance to the Sweet 16 and CU (24-8) wasted no time in preparing for the Blue Devils (26-6).

CU assistants spent part of last week putting together a scouting report of Duke and then the staff and players had a chance to watch the Blue Devils’ 89-49 rout of Iona on Saturday.

“The scout was done and then (Saturday) night you watch the game and sort of verify, ‘OK, what we saw on film is the same thing as they’re doing now,’” CU head coach JR Payne said. “The hard thing about Duke is that they run a lot of stuff and they play a lot of players, so it’s a lot of information to try to ingest in 24 to 48 hours. That’s the biggest thing is making sure that we’re trying to learn as much as we need to learn.

“We won’t know them as well as we would know UCLA or Stanford or someone that we’ve seen for many years, but we’ll know them well enough to know what they want to get out of certain things and what we will try to do to slow them down.”

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Buff season ends with a second round 81-69 loss to Utah Valley – Boyle: “There are no bad teams playing anymore at this time of the year”

From … Colorado’s defense had no answer for Utah Valley’s offense Sunday night and the Buffaloes dropped an 81-69 decision to the Wolverines in the second round of the NIT at the CU Events Center.

Tad Boyle‘s Buffs ended their season 18-17 while the Wolverines, the WAC regular season champs, improved to 27-8 and will host Cincinnati in the NIT quarterfinal round.

The two teams traded the lead eight times in a first half that ended up knotted at 38-38. But UVU used a 7-0 run to open the second half, then put together another 7-0 run midway through the period to break a 58-58 tie and the Buffs never came closer than four again.

Colorado 7-foot sophomore Lawson Lovering led CU with a career-high 21 points and he also had a team-high seven rebounds. Ethan Wright scored 17 points, including Colorado’s only four 3-pointers, and Tristan da Silva added 12.

Trey Woodbury led four Wolverines in double figures with 25 points.

Colorado shot a respectable 47 percent (29-for-62) from the floor, but the Buffs hit just four of their 19 3-point tries — with Wright hitting all four.

That was no match for UVU, as the Wolverines shot 56 percent (33-for-59), including 60 percent in the second half (17-for-28), and 9-for-17 for the night from long range.

The Buffs also lost the rebound battle, 32-30, as CU was outscored 43-31 after intermission.

“There are no bad teams playing anymore at this time of the year and Utah Valley is a helluva team,” Boyle said. “My thanks go out to everybody that came tonight. Our fans have been great. We just didn’t give our part defensively. When you’re watching NCAA Tournament games or NIT games, it doesn’t matter, the teams that guard are the teams that advance and we didn’t get stops tonight.”

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March 19th – Game Day!

… CU in the Arena … 

Buffs taking on 26-8 Utah Valley in second round of the NIT (7:30 p.m., MT, ESPNU)

From … Colorado makes its second-straight  National Invitation Tournament (NIT) appearance and 13th overall. The Buffaloes are a No. 3 seed in one of four eight-team regions.

With its 65-64 win over Seton Hall in the first round, Colorado improved to 14-11 all-time in the NIT and advances past the first round for the seventh time in 13 appearances.

Overall, this is Colorado’s 29th postseason tournament past the conference level. Head coach Tad Boyle leads the Buffaloes into their 11th national-level postseason appearance in 12 possible seasons (no postseason in 2020 due to covid). Included in that span is a school-record seven-straight appearances from 2011 to 2017. Prior to that seven-year run, no Colorado team had participated in the postseason more than two consecutive years.

Colorado is 55-74 in all-time postseason play, including conference tournaments; 26-29 on the national level (NCAA, NIT, CBI). The Buffaloes won the NIT title in 1940. Colorado also has a runner-up finish in 1938, a third place showing in 1991 and a semifinal appearance in 2011.

THE SEASON: Colorado is 18-16 overall and has won three of its last four. The Buffaloes were 1-1 at the 2023 Pac-12 Tournament. As the No. 9 seed, Colorado defeated No. 8 Washington 74-68 in the first round on Nov. 8, before falling to top-seeded UCLA, 80-69, in the quarterfinals on Nov. 9. The Buffaloes have clinched a .500 or better overall record for the eighth-straight season and 12th time in 13 years under head coach Tad Boyle.

Colorado will play its 35th game of the season on Sunday, tying for the fourth most in team history. The 2013-14 Buffaloes played 35 games, finishing 23-12 advancing to the first round of the NCAA Tournament. The school record for games played in one season is 38 set by the 2010-11 NIT semifinalist squad (24-14). Colorado would have a chance to equal that mark with a run to the NIT Championship game.

ABOUT THE WOLVERINES: Utah Valley is 26-8 overall after defeating New Mexico, 83-69, in an NIT first round game on Mar. 15. The Wolverines won the Western Athletic Conference regular season title with a 15-3 record, but fell to Southern Utah in the semifinals of the WAC Tournament. Utah Valley averages 77.2 points while shooting 46.4 percent from the floor. The Wolverines lead the WAC in both free throw percentage (.741) and assists per game (16.1). Defensively, the Wolverines allow 68.2 points while holding opponents to 39 percent shooting, the latter ranking sixth in NCAA Division I. Utah Valley leads the nation in blocks at 6.7 per game.

Junior guard Le’Tre Darthard leads Utah Valley at 14.0 points per game, hitting 44 percent from the field and 90 percent from the free throw line. Junior guard ranks second on the team in both points (13.7 ppg) and assists (2.9 apg). Senior guard Trey Woodbury averages 13.4 points and a team-best 4.5 assists. Sophomore center Aziz Bandaogo averages a double-double at 11.4 points and 10.2 rebounds. He ranks fourth in the nation in blocks (2.9 bpg) and 11th in rebounding.

SERIES RECORDS: This will be the first meeting between Colorado and Utah Valley. The Buffaloes are 14-8 against teams that currently make up the Western Athletic Conference. Colorado’s last game against a WAC opponent, was earlier this season, an 86-78 home win over Southern Utah on Dec. 21. Utah  Valley was 1-2 against Southern Utah this season.

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March 18th – Game Day!

… CU in the Arena … 

CU women pick up first NCAA win since 2003 with dominating 82-60 win over Middle Tennessee

Related … Formann Shoots Buffs Into Second Round … from

… The Buffs will take on No. 3 seed Duke on the Blue Devils’ home court on Monday (TBD). Duke mauled No. 14 seed Iona, 89-49, Saturday night … 

From the Daily Camera … Several of the experts picked Colorado to be an upset victim.

At the very least, a tough wire-to-wire battle with Middle Tennessee figured to be on tap for the Buffaloes.

But this? This was not expected.

Led by Frida Formann catching fire from 3-point range, the CU women’s basketball team dominated Middle Tennessee, 82-60, on Saturday in the first round of the NCAA Tournament at Cameron Indoor Stadium.

Sixth-seeded CU (24-8) will face Duke or Iona on Monday night at Cameron. This is CU’s first win in the NCAA Tournament since reaching the Sweet 16 in 2003.

Formann finished with 21 points and hit 5-of-8 3-pointers, but she wasn’t alone in firing and hitting from beyond the arc.

Overall, CU was 13-of-27 from 3-point range. It’s the most 3-pointers ever made by a CU team in the NCAA Tournament and just the 10th time in program history the Buffs have hit that many in a game.

Jaylynn Sherrod added 13 points and six assists, while Aaronette Vonleh had 11 points.

MTSU (28-5), the Conference USA regular season and tournament champs, had won 10 in a row coming in, but couldn’t find its rhythm all night. The Blue Raiders were just 4-of-24 from 3-point range.

CU’s lead reached 31 points in the fourth before MTSU closed the game on an 11-2 run over the last 6 minutes.

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No. 21 CU women taking on Middle Tennessee in first round of NCAA Tournament (5:00 p.m., MT, ESPNews)

Related … CU Buffs ready for first-round matchup with Middle Tennessee … from the Daily Camera 

From … Sixth-seeded Colorado is set to open its NCAA Tournament run against 11th-seeded Middle Tennessee at the historic Cameron Indoor Stadium on Saturday (5 p.m. MT/ESPNews).

The first-round game will be Colorado’s first-ever experience in one of college basketball’s most storied venues.

“I don’t think I really thought about it,” senior Jaylyn Sherrod commented about playing at Cameron Indoor. “That’s all you hear growing up as a kid, maybe more so on the men’s side, but it’s another opportunity to get out here [and play].”

The Buffs met the media on Friday and got their first chance to step on Coach K Court, an experience that was brand new to the roster last season in Iowa City. Colorado, who is making its second-straight NCAA Tournament appearance and third-consecutive postseason, has been able to lean on last year’s experience to prepare for Saturday.

“I think most of us that were part of last year have been fueled by last year’s result for most of the season and have worked really hard to make sure that we’re not just physically prepared but also mentally prepared for a game or a moment like this,” head coach JR Payne expressed.

Five players got their first NCAA Tournament experience last season against Creighton and sophomore Aaronette Vonleh played sparingly last season for Arizona in the tournament before her transfer to Colorado.

“I would say [I learned] from last year’s experience that you have to play every game like it’s your last,” senior Quay Miller explained. “For me, that means I have to play like that’s probably going to be my last game. I can’t take any reps off. Every possession counts. Every mistake is going to count. You just have to prioritize every decision.”

Vonleh could be the missing piece to the puzzle for the Buffs in this year’s tournament. She starts the weekend ranked 16th in the NCAA with a Pac-12-best 58.7 field goal %. The Pac-12’s Co-Most Improved Player averaged 16.5 points per game in the Pac-12 Tournament and shot 71.4% from the field (15-21). Voneh has averaged 12.8 points per game since the start of February, shooting a 60.2% clip (59-63) in the CU’s last 10 games.

“She’s incredible,” Payne noted. “She’s a great teammate. She works hard. She’s one of the most athletic players I’ve probably ever coached as far as having the rare combination of size, skill and mobility. She’s definitely had a great year and continued to get better and better. I think her best basketball is still ahead of her.”

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March 16th

… CU in the Arena …

Note … With Utah Valley upsetting New Mexico in the first round of the NIT on Wednesday night, the Buffs will get to host a second round game (and the third, if they win). The game against Utah Valley is set for Sunday night at 7:30 p.m., MT, on ESPNU … 

March 15th

… CU in the Arena … 

Buffs hold on to take down Seton Hall in first round of the NIT, 65-64

Note … The No. 1 seed on CU’s side of the bracket, Rutgers, lost to Hofstra Tuesday night. As a result, if the Buffs win their second round game against either New Mexico or Utah Valley State, they will host the third round game with the winner of that contest advancing to the semifinals in Las Vegas … 

Related … Moving on: Colorado knocks off Seton Hall to advance in NIT … from the Daily Camera

From … Colorado’s Julian Hammond III hit a layup with 20 seconds remaining Tuesday night and the Buffaloes then came up with a big defensive stop to clinch a 65-64 win over Seton Hall in a first-round NIT game at the CU Events Center.

Tad Boyle‘s Buffs improved to 18-16 and will face the winner of Wednesday night’s New Mexico-Utah Valley game in the second round.

Seton Hall ended its season 17-16.

The game featured 10 lead changes, with Colorado leading by as much as nine in the first half and the Pirates by as much as five in the second half. The Buffs then rallied to grab a six-point edge with just more than four minutes to play — only to see Seton Hall come back to take a 64-63 lead with 32 seconds on the clock.

But Colorado reaped the final bucket with 20 seconds remaining when Hammond took a pass in the paint from Jalen Gabbidon and cashed in the winning bucket. The Buffs then produced one more defensive stop in the final seconds for the win.

Ethan Wright came off the bench to lead the Buffs in scoring with 18 points — his best as a Buff —  including four 3-pointers. Tristan da Silva scored 14, Hammond added 10 points and five assists, and Luke O’Brien had eight points and a career-high 14 rebounds.

KC Ndefo led Seton Hall with 18 points.

Colorado shot just 39 percent (21-for-54) but hit 10 of 18 3-point tries. Seton Hall finished 22-for-60 from the floor. CU had a 39-36 rebound edge as well as a 23-8 edge in points off the bench.

“You just knew it was probably going to come down to the end,” said Boyle, who is now 89-7 in home non-conference games as CU’s coach. “Seton Hall is a tough, hard-nosed team. It’s great to win when you don’t play your best and it’s hard to do that in March. But I thought it was appropriate, the way we stress defense every day in practice, to win that game on a defensive possession.”

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March 14th – Game Day!

… CU in the Arena … 

Buffs taking on Seton Hall in first round of NIT (Tuesday, 9:00 p.m., ESPN2)


NIT POSTSEASON FACTS: Colorado makes its second-straight  National Invitation Tournament (NIT) appearance and 13th overall. The Buffaloes are a No. 3 seed in one of four eight-team regions.

The Buffaloes are 13-11 all-time in the NIT, winning the title in 1940. Colorado also has a runner-up finish in 1938, a third place showing in 1991 and a semifinal appearance in 2011.

Overall, this will be Colorado’s 29th postseason tournament past the conference level. Head coach Tad Boyle leads the Buffaloes into their 11th national-level postseason appearance in 12 possible seasons (no postseason in 2020 due to covid). Included in that span is a school-record seven-straight appearances from 2011 to 2017. Prior to that seven-year run, no Colorado team had participated in the postseason more than two consecutive years.

Colorado is 54-74 in all-time postseason play, including conference tournaments; 25-29 on the national level (NCAA, NIT, CBI).

THE SEASON: Colorado is 17-16 overall coming off a quarterfinal appearance at the 2023 Pac-12 Tournament. The Buffaloes, the No. 9 seed, defeated No. 8 Washington 74-68 in the first round on Nov. 8, before falling to top-seeded UCLA, 80-69, in the quarterfinals on Nov. 9. Colorado has clinched a .500 or better overall record for the eighth-straight season and 12th time in 13 years under head coach Tad Boyle.

The Buffaloes finished 8-12 in league play, tying with Washington for eighth place in the final league standings. Colorado finished sub-.500 in league play for the first time since the 2017-18 team was 8-10. The 12 league losses are the most in the Boyle era (7-11 in 2014-15).

ABOUT THE PIRATES: Seton Hall is 17-15 overall and tied for sixth in the Big East Conference with a 10-10 record. The Pirates fell to DePaul in the first round of the Big East Championship. Seton Hall has dropped four of its last five and six of eight overall. The Pirates are the second-best scoring and shooting defense in the Big East allowing only 65.1 points per game on 41.6 percent from the field. Offensively, Seton Hall averages 68.5 points while shooting 44.2 percent. The Pirates average 8.3 steals per game.

Senior guard Al-Amir Dawes leads Seton Hall at 12.6 points per game and is an 83 percent free throw shooter. Graduate KC Ndefo averages 8.1 points, 5.2 rebounds and 1.9 blocks per game. Senior forward Tyrese Samuel averages 10.9 points per game and leads the Pirates in rebounds (5.8 rpg) and shooting percentage (.555).

SERIES RECORDS: This will be the first meeting between Colorado and Seton Hall. The Buffaloes are 13-8 against teams that currently make up the Big East Conference. Colorado’s last game against a Big East opponent was its 96-73 win over Georgetown in the first round of the 2021 NCAA Tournament.

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March 13th

… CU in the Arena … 

Boyle: “I was expecting to be traveling rather than hosting”

From the Daily Camera … The Buffs have been awaiting their postseason fate since their time at the Pac-12 Conference tournament came to an end on Friday in a quarterfinal-round loss against UCLA. Despite falling to 17-16 overall, the Buffs’ NET ranking has been on sturdier ground than their record throughout the season, thanks mostly to early-season, neutral-floor wins against Tennessee and Texas A&M. That strength of schedule led to a surprisingly high seed for the Buffs, who were settled mostly between a No. 4 seed and a No. 6 seed in most NIT projections.

While the Buffs went just 1-8 against the Pac-12’s four entrants in the NCAA Tournament — UCLA, Arizona, USC and Arizona State — several of CU’s nonconference opponents ultimately enjoyed strong seasons. Grambling State, Yale, Southern Utah and Boise State all fit that description. CU was ranked 69th in the NET on Sunday.

“I guess I am a little bit (surprised),” Boyle said. “I was expecting to be traveling rather than hosting. The one thing you just don’t know about with the committee is if they’re going to put more emphasis on good wins versus bad losses. Obviously I think they probably went with the former, because we had some really good wins in nonconference.”

Pac-12 rival Oregon received one of the four No. 1 seeds in the NIT alongside Oklahoma State, Clemson and Rutgers, the top seed in CU’s region. Washington State also received an NIT berth as a No. 4 seed.

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March 12th

... CU in the Arena … 

CU men earn No. 3 seed in NIT tournament, to face Seton Hall at CEC (Tuesday, 9:00 p.m., MT, ESPN2)

From … The University of Colorado has accepted a bid to the 2023 National Invitation Tournament (NIT) and will host Seton Hall in a first-round game on Tuesday, Mar. 14, at the CU Events Center.

The Buffaloes are the No. 3 seed in one of four eight-team regions and will host the Pirates for a 9 p.m. MT tip on ESPN2 as well as KOA 850 AM & 94.1 FM. The winner of Tuesday’s game will play the winner of No. 2 seed New Mexico and Utah Valley in the second round, Mar. 18-19, at a time to be announced.

Second round games and the regional finals (March 21-22) will be played on campus sites and will be at the highest seeded team if applicable and barring any institutional conflicts. The NIT semifinals will take place on Tuesday, Mar. 28, at Orleans Arena in Las Vegas, with the championship game on Thursday, Mar. 30.

This season, NIT will be played in Las Vegas for the first time. The tournament ended an 83-year run with Madison Square Garden in New York City last year.

Seton Hall is 17-15 overall and tied for sixth in the Big East Conference with a 10-10 record. The Pirates fell to DePaul in the first round of the Big East Championship. The Buffaloes and Seton Hall have never met in men’s basketball.

Colorado makes its second-straight NIT appearance and 13th overall. Colorado is 13-11 all-time in the NIT, winning the title in 1940. The Buffaloes also have a runner-up finish in 1938, a third place showing in 1991 and a semifinal appearance in 2011.

“I’m excited and I know our players are too, we live to see another day, which is all you can ask for,” Colorado head coach Tad Boyle said. “We know from first hand experience how good of a tournament this is; good teams, players and coaches. St. Bonaventure came to our place last year and it was a great game and they made it to the final four. I know Seton Hall will come in with that same mindset and I’m sure we’ll be ready.”

Overall, this will be Colorado’s 29th postseason tournament past the conference level.

Colorado is 17-16 overall and tied for eighth in the Pac-12 Conference at 8-12. The Buffaloes were the No. 9 seed at the Pac-12 Tournament, winning a first-round game over No. 8 Washington before falling to regular season champion and No. 1 seed UCLA in the quarterfinals.

Tickets will go on sale at 9 a.m. on Monday at the CU Athletic Ticket Office, by calling 303-49BUFFS or online at Season ticket holders will have until 5 p.m. on Monday to purchase their seat locations.

CU women earn No. 6 seed in NCAA tournament, to face No. 11 Middle Tennessee on Saturday

From … The No. 20 Colorado women’s basketball team will enter the 2023 NCAA Tournament as a No. 6 seed in the Seattle 4 Region. The Buffaloes will play the No. 11-seeded Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders on Saturday, Mar. 18 in Durham, N.C.

“I was excited to see our name pop up,” head coach JR Payne expressed as CU wasn’t announced until the final portion of the broadcast. “We waited so long for a couple of our players asked, ‘Are you sure we’re in?’ I was like, ‘Yes. We’re in, don’t worry.’ I am excited. I was born in Tennessee. I have a lot of family in Tennessee and grew up hearing about Middle [Tennessee]. I have a lot of family members that went to school there. I know they’re really good. I have yet to watch them this year, but they’re good. We’re excited.”

The selection to the field of 68 marks CU’s second consecutive trip to the Big Dance. The last time the Buffs made back-to-back appearances in the NCAA Tournament was the 2002-03 and 2003-04 seasons.

“This is the second year in a row we have gone to the tournament and we knew we were going to be in it, but we’re just excited to get back and get a second chance,” junior Frida Formann explained. “This year I think we have just shut out any outside noise and just work on our thing. I’m so happy that it worked out well in the end for us. It is also not a coincidence that we are in the tournament because we have been working hard and have a really good team.”

The Buffs draw the No. 6 seed for the fourth time in what is now 15 trips to the NCAA Tournament. CU is 3-3 all-time as a sixth seed. The last time CU was a sixth seed was in the 2004 NCAA Tournament.

“There’s a bunch of talks over the weeks,” sophomore Aaronette Vonleh said of CU’s projected seeding. “You never know where you’re going to end up. I mean, six is still pretty good. Middle Tennessee, I don’t know much about them, but we just have to be ready to play whomever we get matched up with.”

Colorado (23-8) enjoying its best season since the 2012-13 campaign. The Buffs’ 23 wins this season bested last season’s 22 and are the most since the 2012-13 season (25). CU scored its best finish in the Pac-12, closing the year third in the conference with a 13-5 record. The Black and Gold made its second consecutive trip to the Pac-12 semifinals in Las Vegas, before bowing out to eventual tournament champion Washington State.

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March 11th

… CU in the Arena … 

Buffs still holding out hope for an NIT bid

From the Daily Camera … The Colorado men’s basketball team has nothing to do for a few days except wait and cross its collective fingers that the 2022-23 season isn’t quite over.

Among the Buffaloes, that waiting game might be a little more nerve-racking for Jalen Gabbidon and Ethan Wright.

While everyone else on CU’s roster has more basketball games ahead of them whether or not the Buffs receive an NIT bid on Sunday, Wright and Gabbidon, the Buffs’ graduate transfers out of the Ivy League, are two players left to wonder if they have played their final games.

The NIT selection show will be held on Sunday (7 p.m. MT, ESPNU) after the NCAA Tournament selection show, with first-round games scheduled for Tuesday and Wednesday at campus sites.

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March 9th – Game Day!

… CU in the Arena … 

Buffs compete, but ultimately fall to No. 2 UCLA, 80-69, in Pac-12 Quarterfinals

From … Colorado’s upset bid came up short Thursday as the Buffaloes dropped an 80-69 decision to second-ranked UCLA in the Pac-12 tournament quarterfinals at T-Mobile Arena.

Tad Boyle‘s ninth-seeded Buffs fell to 17-16 and will wait to see if a postseason invitation is offered. The top-seeded Bruins improved to 28-4 and will play in Friday night’s semifinals.

In a game that featured 17 lead changes and six ties, this one wasn’t settled until the final minutes. But the Buffs came up empty on some key possessions down the stretch and the Bruins hit their free throws in the final minute to clinch the win.

HOW IT HAPPENED: Colorado led by one at the half and still led by three, 49-46, after a Julian Hammond III 3-pointer five minutes in.

But the Bruins manufactured a 9-0 run to take a 55-49 lead as the Buffs committed four turnovers in four minutes.

Colorado, though, didn’t go away quietly. The Buffs turned in a 9-4 surge, getting five points from Tristan da Silva to cut UCLA’s cushion to one, 59-58, with 7:17 to play.

Two minutes later, the Buffs briefly grabbed a 61-60 lead on da Silva’s third 3-pointer of the day, only to see the Bruins reel off a 7-0 run to regain control. Two free throws from UCLA’s Amari Bailey gave the Bruins a 67-61 lead with four minutes remaining and UCLA extended the run to 9-0 after a timeout to take a 69-61 lead with 3:22 to play, the biggest lead of the game for either team.

But the Buffs had one more comeback. Da Silva and Lawson Lovering both cashed in buckets and with just more than two minutes to play, Colorado shaved UCLA’s lead to four, 69-65.

That, though, was as close as the Buffs could come. CU came up empty on its next three possessions and the Bruins hit their free throws in the final minutes to sew up the win.

CU head coach Tad Boyle was also hit with two technicals in the final minute, helping the Bruins extend their lead.

The first half featured 10 lead changes and three ties, with Colorado taking a  38-37 lead into the break.

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Buffs face tall task against No. 2 UCLA (1:00 p.m., MT, Pac-12 Networks) – Boyle: “This tournament now starts”

From the Daily Camera … The Colorado men’s basketball team got some payback against a team that defeated the Buffaloes twice during the regular season.

CU will have a chance to do the same thing on Thursday. But the challenge will be much more difficult.

Colorado advanced out of the first round of the Pac-12 Conference tournament on Wednesday by knocking off Washington 74-68 at T-Mobile Arena. The ninth-seeded Buffs will play top-seeded UCLA in the quarterfinals on Thursday, and while the Bruins topped CU in a pair of tightly-contested games during the regular season, they also enter the league tournament dealing with a devastating injury setback to Jaylen Clark.

“This tournament now starts,” CU head coach Tad Boyle said. “This was kind of the warm-up game, so to speak, and now we’re faced with playing UCLA, who’s one of the top teams in the country. Who just had an injury to their lineup.

“We know what they’re all about. We’ve battled them. We’ve come up short, just like we had battled Washington and came up short. But UCLA’s a different animal. They’re the best team in our league. We’ve got to get rest, get these guys off our feet, and be ready to rock and roll (Thursday).”

The Buffs twice played stellar defense against the No. 2-ranked Bruins during the regular season but fell short both times. CU led by nine points in Los Angeles on Jan. 14 before the Bruins caught fire and outscored the Buffs 33-10 the rest of the way. A week and a half ago in Boulder, CU led by a point with 3 minutes, 10 seconds remaining before dropping a four-point decision.

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March 8th – Game Day!

… CU in the Arena … 

CU survives and advances to Pac-12 quarterfinals with a 74-68 win over Washington

Related … CU Buffs men’s basketball holds off Washington to advance in Pac-12 tourney … from the Daily Camera

From … Colorado’s Julian Hammond III scored a career-high 21 points and the Buffaloes used a key 7-0 run in the final minute Wednesday to take a 74-68 win over Washington in the first round of the Pac-12 tournament at T-Mobile Arena.

The ninth-seeded Buffs, who lost twice to the No. 8 Huskies in the regular season, improved to 17-15 and will face No. 1 seed UCLA in Thursday’s 1 p.m. (MT) quarterfinal.

HOW IT HAPPENED: Colorado led by as much as 14 in the first half and still held an eight-point edge at the break, 28-20. But the Huskies hit two quick 3-pointers to open the second half and make it a game.

CU managed to hold onto the lead for 10 minutes as Tristan da SilvaLuke O’Brien and Julian Hammond III each had big buckets to answer UW scores.

But the Huskies finally took their first lead of the game with 9:44 to play, setting up a see-saw stretch that saw the lead change three more times.

Colorado finally went back up by four on buckets from Ethan Wright and Nique Clifford, then extended the edge to five with five minutes to play on a long 3-pointer and layup from Hammond and a Lawson Lovering free throw.

The Huskies cut Colorado’s lead back to one with 3:30 to play, but the Buffs pushed it back to five on a Lawson Lovering offensive rebound and bucket and an Ethan Wright dunk in transition off a da Silva steal.

But Washington narrowed CU’s lead to two, 66-64, with under two minutes to play on three Cole Bajema free throws, then tied it up on a Bajema layup with 1:26 to play.

Colorado needed just one possession to regain the lead. Da Silva drove underneath, then found O’Brien open at the top of the arc and the junior drained a long 3-pointer to give CU a 69-66 lead with just under a minute to play.

Following a timeout, Nique Clifford then came up with a big steal and 20 seconds later, Hammond hit a floater from the lane to give Colorado a 71-66 lead with 26 seconds remaining.

Da Silva then capped a 7-0 Colorado run by grabbing a defensive rebound off a UW miss and hitting two free throws with 18 seconds left to give the Buffs a 73-66 lead.

Colorado then held onto the lead in the final seconds for the win.

The Buffs used some stellar first-half defense and opportunistic offense to take a 28-20 lead over the Huskies at intermission.

Colorado led from the outset, getting a Tristan da Silva 3-pointer to open the game and steadily building its cushion. The Buffs pushed their cushion to 26-12 late in the half, thanks in part to four points from da Silva and five from Julian Hammond III over a three-minute stretch.

Defensively, Colorado produced 10 consecutive empty UW possessions that helped the Buffs build their big lead.

The Huskies did manage to close the gap in the final minutes of the half with back-to-back buckets, but UW shot just 27 percent in the first half (7-for-26), including 1-for-10 from 3-point range.

The Buffs, meanwhile, found enough holes in the UW zone to collect 12 field goals. Da Silva had nine points in the first half and Hammond and Luke O’Brien each added six. O’Brien and Nique Clifford also had five rebounds apiece, helping Colorado to a 25-17 edge on the boards and 10 second-chance points.

NEXT UP: Colorado will face No. 1 seed UCLA in a 1 p.m. quarterfinal game Thursday at T-Mobile Arena.

Buffs must overcome Washington zone in order to advance in Pac-12 tournament 

From the Daily Camera … Usually it’s a clash of styles when the Buffaloes meet the dedicated zone defense of Washington. That may not be the case on Wednesday, when the ninth-seeded Buffs square off against the eight-seeded Huskies in the opening game of the Pac-12 Conference tournament at T-Mobile Arena.

CU’s chances of advancing and keeping its precarious NIT hopes alive might be less contingent on what form of defense the Buffs deploy than CU’s ability to execute offensively against the Huskies’ zone. UW won both regular season matchups against the Buffs, who committed 18 turnovers in a Dec. 4 loss in Seattle before going 3-for-19 on 3-pointers at home while losing to the Huskies on Jan. 19.

In the two games combined, CU shot just .222 (8-for-36) from long range.

“They like to gamble a lot and they get a lot of steals in there,” CU forward Tristan da Silva said. “They want you to settle for jump shots early in the possession, or just swing it back-and-forth and settle for a 3-pointer. But we’ve got to attack their zone. We’ve got to get the ball inside and then kick it out for open shots or get easy buckets at the rim.”

In a dramatically inconsistent season that has balanced extreme highs (a win against Tennessee in Nashville on Nov. 13) with embarrassing lows (like being one of the victims of the 3-28 California Golden Bears), Buffs fans might struggle with managing the odds in Las Vegas.

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PAC-12 POSTSEASON FACTS: Colorado is in its 12th Pac-12 Tournament, coming in as the No. 9 seed. The Buffaloes tied with Washington for eighth in the final Pac-12 standings (8-12), but the Huskies took the No. 8 seed due to a sweep of the season series.

Colorado is a No. 9 seed for the first time in this tournament and its the program’s lowest since 2015, when the Buffaloes were the No. 10 seed. Colorado also tied for eighth in the 2014-15 standings, but lost tiebreakers to drop to No. 10.

Colorado holds an overall record of 16-10 in the championship. The Buffaloes have two Pac-12 Tournament championship game appearances, winning the inaugural Pac-12 Tournament title in 2012, as the No. 6 seed, winning four games in four days in Los Angeles. The Buffaloes were the runner up in 2021.

Colorado is 7-8 in the championship as the lower seeded team, 9-2 as the higher seed. Six of Colorado’s 10 Pac-12 Tournament losses have come to the top two seeds.

The Buffaloes were the last Pac-12 program to walk away from the annual event without a win. Colorado had won eight-straight first round games before falling to Washington State in 2020, just hours before the rest of the Pac-12 Tournament, and NCAA Tournament was canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic. The Buffaloes followed up that setback with a run to the 2021 championship game and the 2022 semifinals.

Colorado is 29-45 all-time in conference postseason tournaments. The Buffaloes were 4-20 in the Big Eight Tournament between 1977-96 and 9-15 in the Big 12 Championship between 1997-2011.

Head coach Tad Boyle owns more than half of Colorado’s all-time conference tournament wins. He is 18-11 in conference tournament action, including a 2-1 mark in Colorado’s final year of the Big 12.

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March 7th

… CU in the Arena … 

Tristan da Silva and KJ Simpson named to Pac-12 All-Conference teams

From … University of Colorado’s Tristan da Silva and KJ Simpson received All-Pac-12 Conference men’s basketball honors, voted on by coaches, the league office announced on Tuesday.

Da Silva, a junior forward, was one of 10-members of the All-Pac-12 First Team while Simpson, a sophomore guard, was selected to the All-Pac-12 Second Team.

Da Silva leads Colorado at 15.9 points per game on 50.7 percent shooting while averaging 4.9 rebounds and 1.3 steals an outing. He is fifth in the Pac-12 in 3-point shooting (.402) while ranking sixth in scoring, eighth in overall field goal percentage, ninth in steals and 15th in free throw percentage.

Da Silva is the eighth different Buffalo to be named to the All-Pac-12 First Team and the 12th honor overall. The Buffaloes have had at least one All-Pac-12 First Team member each of the last five seasons.

Simpson leads Colorado in assists (111), steals (43) and free throw percentage (.817) while sitting just a fraction behind da Silva in scoring at 15.9 points per game. On the Pac-12 charts, Simpson is sixth in free throw percentage and steals, seventh in scoring and assists, 12th in minutes played (31.8 mpg) and 13th in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.5).

The Buffaloes have had at least one player on either the All-Pac-12 First or Second Team all 12 seasons of their conference membership. It’s the fourth time in the last five years Colorado has had multiple players represented on the all-conference teams, and sixth time overall.

Colorado, 16-15 overall, finished tied for eighth in the Pac-12 at 8-12 and is the No. 9 seed at the upcoming Pac-12 Tournament, Mar. 8-11, at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.


March 6th

… CU in the Arena …  

CU back into The Basketball Tournament with younger alumni 

From the Daily Camera … For the first time in four years, the Colorado men’s basketball alumni team will take aim at the jackpot in The Basketball Tournament.

Following a delay of four years sparked mostly by the COVID pandemic, the organizers of Team Colorado announced on Friday the Buffaloes’ alumni team is planning to renew its participation this summer in The Basketball Tournament, the $1 million, winner-take-all competition that has evolved into one of the top basketball events of the summer.

Team Colorado is set to be coached by Zach Ruebesam, CU’s director of player development. His coaching staff will include former Buffs players Dominique Coleman, currently the interim head coach at Hillsboro Community College in Florida, and Tory Miller, who has begun cutting his teeth in the coaching profession with Overtime Elite, a premier pro league for prospects opting for a different course to the NBA than through NCAA basketball.

Also scheduled to be on the staff is David Pavlakovich, a former CU team manager who has been coaching in Germany.

While injuries or a change in pro commitments still could alter the roster before the team’s training camp in July, a number of more recent Buffs players have committed to play. That list includes Evan Battey, D’Shawn Schwartz, Dallas Walton, Lucas Siewert and Jeriah Horne. All of those players except Horne were part of the 2019-20 team that had its expected NCAA Tournament appearance scuttled by the start of the pandemic. After Siewert graduated, all those players plus Horne were part of the CU team that reached the second round of the 2021 NCAA Tournament.

Also committed to play are George King, Tre’Shaun Fletcher, Dominique Collier and Shannon Sharpe. There likely will be at least one and possibly two roster additions before the team is finalized.

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CU women down to a No. 5 seed in latest NCAA Bracketology

From ESPN … The women’s NCAA tournament will undergo significant change for the second consecutive season. The field expanded to 68 teams last year. This season, the customary four regional sites have been reduced to two: Seattle and Greenville, South Carolina. The top 16 teams will continue to host the first and second rounds, and the First Four games will again be played at the site of the first-round games to which they feed. Defending champion South Carolina is the heavy favorite, and the Gamecocks seek to become the first repeat champions since UConn in 2015-16. The Final Four is March 31 and April 2 at American Airlines Center in Dallas.

Three weeks ago, Virginia Tech wasn’t even in the conversation for a No. 1 seed. The Hokies were fighting for a top-three spot in the ACC and hadn’t even reached the most difficult part of their schedule. Taking on that schedule head on, Virginia Tech won every one of those games and has now won 11 in a row following Sunday’s ACC championship over Louisville. The Hokies are the hottest team in the country not named South Carolina and now occupy the same seed line as the Gamecocks. One caveat that will determine whether Virginia Tech is a No. 1 on Selection Sunday: How the committee view the Hokies’ relatively weak nonconference schedule. They played six teams outside of the NET 230 and their nonconference schedule ranks 129th overall. Iowa and Maryland, Virginia Tech’s chief competitors for a 1-seed, both have top-10 rated schedules.

From the Pac-12 … 

  • No. 1 seed – Stanford
  • No. 2 seed – Utah
  • No. 4 seed – UCLA
  • No. 5 seed – Colorado
  • No. 6 seed – Washington State
  • No. 6 seed – Arizona
  • No. 8 seed – USC
  • First Four out – Oregon
  • Next Four out – Washington


March 5th 

… CU in the Arena … 

Buffs finish the regular season with a 69-60 win over Utah; to face Washington in first round of Pac-12 tournament

From … Colorado’s Julian Hammond III stepped in for an ailing KJ Simpson to score 15 points and Nique Clifford recorded his first career double-double Saturday to lead the Buffaloes to a 69-60 win over Utah in the regular season finale at the CU Events Center.

Tad Boyle‘s Buffs improved to 16-15 overall and 8-12 in Pac-12 play while Utah fell to 17-14, 10-10.

The Buffs finish as the No. 9 seed in the conference standings and will face No. 8 Washington in the Pac-12 tourney opener Wednesday in Las Vegas at 1 p.m. The winner will play top seed UCLA on Thursday at 1 p.m.

Boyle said after the game that Simpson had been diagnosed with mononucleosis and will not be available for the conference tournament.

Hammond, however, was outstanding in his starting role. The sophomore finished with a career-high five assists, five steals and three rebounds to go with his 15 points while Clifford tallied 14 points and 11 rebounds. Regular starter Tristan da Silva, nursing a sore ankle, came off the bench to score 15 points in 23 minutes and Ethan Wright had 10 points in a starting role.

Rollie Worster led Utah with 15 points.

Colorado trailed in the early minutes but used a 9-0 run to take a 15-7 lead with 11:34 to play in the first half and never trailed again. The Buffs led by 12 at the half and built a 16-point cushion early in the second half. They then fought off several Utah surges down the stretch, never letting the Utes get closer than eight until the final minute.

Boyle, a staunch believer in man-to-man defense, surprised the Utes by employing a zone defense for nearly the entire game. CU held Utah to 33 percent shooting (21-for-63), including 9-for-30 from long range.

Colorado shot 46 percent (25-for-54) and hit eight of 21 tries from beyond the arc. The Buffs also had a 39-33 rebound edge and had 20 fast break points to Utah’s three.

“The challenge I gave our team today before the game was, whether we’re going to finish this year with a winning record or losing record in the regular season — your choice,” Boyle said. “We have three seniors who deserve to be sent out the right way and our guys really got into it. They played their tails off. I wasn’t planning on playing 38 minutes of zone but it worked. It was effective and we stuck with it and they did a good job.”

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March 4th – Game Day!

… CU in the Arena … 

Buffs looking to finish the regular season with a win (v. Utah, 3:30 p.m., MT, Pac-12 Networks)

From … Colorado is 15-15 overall and tied with Stanford for ninth in the Pac-12 Conference at 7-12. The Buffaloes have lost three in a row, tying their longest such streak of the season, and four of five. Two of those setbacks have come against Top 10 opponents.

Colorado will either be the No. 9 or No. 10 seed in the upcoming Pac-12 Tournament next week. If the Buffaloes win against Utah, they will finish tied with Washington for eighth place in the conference standings and will face the Huskies at the No. 9 seed on Wednesday, Mar. 8, due to the Huskies’ season series sweep. For Colorado to drop to the No. 10 seed, the Buffaloes would have to lose to Utah and Stanford would have to win at Oregon Saturday afternoon. In that case, Colorado would most likely face Washington State in
Wednesday’s first round.

The Buffaloes will finish sub-.500 in league play for the first time since the 2017-18 team was 8-10. The 12 league losses are the most in the Tad Boyle era (7-11 in 2014-15).

Colorado is 11-4, wrapping up the regular season Saturday. The Buffaloes are averaging 72.1 points at home, nearly seven points per game more than on the road (65.4 ppg). The Buffaloes have enjoyed a plus-10 scoring margin at home. Colorado is shooting 45.5 percent at home, compared to 40.1 percent in road games. The Buffaloes are holding opponents to 62.2 points on 41.8 percent from the field at home compared to  71.5 points and 45.4 percent in road contests.

On the Pac-12 leaderboard, Colorado is second in steals (7.8) and offensive rebounds (11.5 orpg), third in overall rebounds (37.5 rpg) and turnover margin (+0.7), fourth in scoring defense (66.5 ppg) and 3-point defense (.322) and fifth in rebound margin (+3.8) and defensive boards (26.0 drpg).

In addition, the Buffaloes gave up just 59 points at Arizona State, the lowest by an opponent on their own home floor this season. It’s the fewest allowed by Colorado in a Pac-12 road game since Stanford had 53 on Feb. 19, 2022.

ABOUT THE UTES: Utah is 17-13 overall and seventh in the Pac-12 at 10-9. The Utes could still finish as high as a tie for fourth place in the league standings, but tiebreakers have them most likely the No. 6 or No. 7 seed at the Pac-12 Tournament. Utah has lost four straight and six of eight overall. The Utes have the second-best scoring defense in the Pac-12 allowing just 63.4 points per game.

Senior center Branden Carlson leads Utah at 16.1 points, 7.3 rebounds and 2.1 blocks per game while hitting 50 percent from the field. Sophomore guard Lazar Stefanovic averages 10.2 points and leads the Utes in steals with 34. Marco Anthony averages 10.0 points and is second on the team in rebounding (6.9 rpg) and steals (22).

SERIES RECORDS: This will be the 59th meeting between Colorado and Utah with the Buffaloes holding a 32-26 edge. Utah won the first meeting of the season in Salt Lake City, 73-62, on Feb. 11. Colorado is 21-7 against the Utes all-time in Boulder.

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No. 20 CU women waste a golden opportunity, fall to Washington State in Pac-12 semi-finals

… The Buffs were the No. 3 seed, and both No. 1 seed and No. 2 seed Utah had already been upset. CU had a clear path to a Pac-12 title, but now it will be No. 5 seed UCLA v. No. 7 seed Washington State for the championship … 

From … Missed opportunities. Third-seeded Colorado saw its Pac-12 tournament run come to an end late Friday night with a semifinal loss to the seventh-seeded Washington State Cougars, 61-49.

After an ice-cold first half during which the Buffs scored just 16 points and trailed by as many as 16, CU used a 12-0 run to end the third quarter by tying the game at 38-38. Washington State then used a 12-2 run to open up a 10-point lead in the fourth quarter and that proved too much for the Buffaloes to overcome.

The Buffs fall to 23-8 and will now wait until a week from Sunday evening to see where they will be selected in the NCAA Tournament. Washington State will now advance to the Pac-12 Championship game against fifth-seeded UCLA, as each of the top four seeds failed to advance to the title game.

“I would just start with saying congratulations to Washington state who played an incredible game tonight,” head coach JR Payne expressed after the loss. ‘They’re a really well-coached, really tough, gritty team. I thought they execute a game plan and as always so congratulations to them. I’m proud of our team for our fight which I think was clearly on display for a large part of the second half. We’re disappointed with the outcome, disappointed with some things that we could have executed more effectively, things that we really felt like we needed to do to win the game but this time of the year, every team can beat every team and I think we know that and unfortunately learned it firsthand today. I’m proud of the season we’ve had so far and very excited for the season that will continue in a couple of weeks.”

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March 3rd – Game Day!

... CU in the Arena … 

No. 20 CU Buffs rally to take down Oregon State in Pac-12 quarterfinals, 62-54; Washington State up next (9:30 p.m., MT, Pac-12 Networks)

From … Third-seeded Colorado defeated No. 11 Oregon State 62-54 in the quarterfinals of the Pac-12 Tournament late Thursday night to advance to the Pac-12 semifinals for the second consecutive season.

CU overcame a nine-point deficit against the No. 11 Beavers to improve to 9-11 all-time in the Pac-12 Tournament. Thursday was the largest comeback for the Buffs in a Pac-12 Tournament game. The win was Colorado’s 23rd of the season, marking the most since going 25-7 in the 2012-13 season.

The Buffaloes struggled early on in the game and found themselves in a tough spot as OSU shot lights out from 3-point range, making 6-of-9 in the first half. Colorado was able to produce enough in the second quarter to tie the game 33-33 at halftime before exploding both offensively and defensively in the third.

“That was not the prettiest game we’ve ever been a part of, but I think what we all witnessed was two teams that are just going to fight and scrap and do everything they can to win the game,” head coach JR Payne stated. “I was just telling these guys in the hallway, really proud of how we never lost our cool. We kept our composure through Oregon State’s hot shooting, through some cold spells for us offensively and we just never really got too flustered. I love that about this team. So really proud of being able to win and keep going.”

After giving up 20 points in the first quarter, Colorado’s defense allowed just 21 total points in the entire second half. The third quarter was crucial for CU as the Buffs outscored the Beavers 18-8 in the quarter. Jaylyn Sherrod was the catalyst on defense, especially in the second half.

“We really take a lot of pride in our defense. I don’t know that we were particularly great today defensively, but we typically take a lot of pride in our defense,” Payne emphasized. “We believe that every single player on our team can guard. I don’t know that it was one person that made a difference. But Jaylyn certainly can be disruptive on the basketball.”

Up next …

Colorado will take on No. 7 Washington State in the Pac-12 semifinals on Friday at 9:30 p.m. MT. The Cougars upset No. 2 Utah today after beating No. 10 Cal in the first round of the Pac-12 Tournament.

“We truly believe that any team in this league can beat any team in this league. And that’s saying something when you have typically five or six top-25 teams,” said Payne. “I think you can play a team that’s going to be unbelievably athletic on a Friday night and the next day maybe not as athletic but so skilled in scheme X and O so well that it challenges you as a player to be able to make those types of adjustments. It challenges you as a coach. But I think without a doubt it’s the best women’s basketball conference in the country.”

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March 2nd – Game Day!

… CU in the Arena … 

No. 20 CU women taking on upset-minded Oregon State in Pac-12 Quarterfinals (9:30 p.m., MT, Pac-12 Networks)

From the Daily Camera … In Scott Rueck’s 13 seasons as head coach, the Oregon State women’s basketball team has grown accustomed to winning.

That’s why this season has been so odd for the Beavers, who came into the Pac-12 Tournament with their lowest seed ever, at No. 11. Suddenly, however, they’ve found their mojo.

On Wednesday night, the  Beavers stunned sixth-seeded USC, 56-48, in the first round of the Pac-12 women’s tournament at Michelob Ultra Arena.

OSU (13-17) will face third-seeded Colorado (22-7) in the quarterfinals on Thursday at 9:30 p.m. MT. It’ll be the 10th consecutive quarterfinal appearance for OSU, joining Stanford as the only teams to reach that round every year in the past decade.

“We’re used to winning,” Rueck said. “That’s what we do and that’s what we’ve done. It’s why they all come here. We’re all winners. We lost nine straight games (this season) and that’s only happened to me two other times and it was year one and three of this complete rebuild. It’s never happened to these (current players).”

… Now, Oregon State gets a shot at the Buffaloes, who dominated the regular season matchup in Corvallis, 67-48 on Feb. 5. CU raced out to a 28-6 lead after the first 14 minutes, 10 seconds and OSU never threatened from there.

“They were at a different level than we were to start that game,” Rueck said. “They came in and absolutely beat us up in that first quarter. They beat us to every basketball. They played at a completely different level of intensity. Before you know it, the game’s basically over at the end of the first.”

Rueck expects CU to open with the same fire and intensity on Thursday.

“(CU guard Jaylyn Sherrod) is going to be everywhere, all over the floor, and so we’re going to need to be ready for it,” he said. “I believe we will be. But they bring a ton of energy. They play really fast, and so you’ve got to be on your A game from the tip. So it should be a great game, a big test.”

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March 1st

… CU in the Arena … 

Entering Pac-12 tournament play, No. 20 CU (and No. 4 seed) holds last home field seed

From ESPN … The women’s NCAA tournament will undergo significant change for the second consecutive season. The field expanded to 68 teams last year. This season, the customary four regional sites have been reduced to two: Seattle and Greenville, South Carolina. The top 16 teams will continue to host the first and second rounds, and the First Four games will again be played at the site of the first-round games to which they feed. Defending champion South Carolina is the heavy favorite, and the Gamecocks seek to become the first repeat champions since UConn in 2015-16. The Final Four is March 31 and April 2 at American Airlines Center in Dallas.

The top 16 seeds (and the right to host first- and second-round NCAA tournament games) will largely take shape this weekend. And teams 14 through 21 on the S curve — in order, Villanova, North Carolina, Colorado, UCLA, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Michigan and Arizona — are so tightly packed that plenty can change by the time championship games are played Sunday in the ACC, Big Ten, Pac-12 and SEC. Which of those eight will wind up in those coveted three final spots within the top 16? UCLA and Arizona are likely to meet in the Pac-12 tournament quarterfinals; the loser will be eliminated from top-16 contention, narrowing the list to seven. From there, it’s a combination of math and musical chairs. The Sooners still have two regular-season games left and might know exactly what they need to do to reach a No. 4 seed when the Big 12 tourney opens March 9. The others will be playing, and perhaps scoreboard watching, this weekend, making Friday, Saturday and Sunday must-see TV for the top 16.

From the Pac-12 ...

  • No. 1 seed … Stanford
  • No. 1 seed … Utah
  • No. 4 seed … Colorado
  • No. 5 seed … UCLA
  • No. 6 seed … Arizona
  • No. 10 seed … USC
  • No. 10 seed … Washington State
  • First Four out … Oregon
  • Next Four out … Washington

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