Contact CU Independent Men’s Basketball Writer Alissa Noe at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow her on Twitter @crazysportgirl1.
After splitting its road trip in Washington last week, the University of Colorado men’s basketball team will look to redeem itself in Boulder this week against Stanford on Wednesday night and California Sunday afternoon.
First, the Buffaloes will take on the Stanford Cardinal, who they beat by a single point in their second game of conference play earlier this month, 56-55. Both teams were plagued by poor shooting, and a late Stanford run nearly put Colorado’s win in jeopardy.
“Number one, this is a whole new game,” Colorado head coach Tad Boyle said at practice Monday. “This is a much-improved Stanford team from where they were on Jan. 3. They have gotten much better. And Rosco Allen did not have his best game against us, and we snuck out a win by one.”
Part of Stanford’s success in giving the Buffs a run for their money last time fell on its free throw shooting. The foul-happy visitors sent the Cardinal to the line for 24 attempts, 18 of which they converted. One of the keys to Wednesday’s game will be to keep fouling at a minimum, while simultaneously getting to the line more themselves.
“It’s just learning from the first game,” senior forward Josh Scott said. “You take what you learn and apply it to the second game. We were up 10 at half on Stanford and we got away from what we were doing first half that second half, and we can’t do that this time around, especially at home. We have the crowd on our side, and it’s important that we get a ‘W.’”
Although Michael Humphrey gave the Buffs a headache last time with 19 points, they’ll also need to keep Rosco Allen (14.5 points per game), Reid Travis (12.8 ppg) and Marcus Allen (12.6 ppg) on the back burner. Travis can be particularly lethal, as he’s shooting 55.7 percent from the field, so keeping him at bay will be crucial to Colorado’s chances at walking away with a victory.
The “Trees” are averaging roughly 71 points as a unit while the Buffaloes are scoring around 79, so don’t be surprised if Wednesday’s game turns into a shootout at the end. Colorado should be able to pull out another victory, but Stanford is very capable of an upset.
Looking back to their previous matchup against Stanford at the beginning of the month, Boyle tried to focus on the positives while addressing the Buffs’ main issues that almost cost them the game.
“We took care of the ball, we got to the free throw line and made free throws, so we want to continue to do those things,” Boyle said. “Again, you want to build up the things that you did well from the last game, and you want to try to shore up the things that you didn’t do well.
“We didn’t shoot the ball well, we’d like to be a little more efficient offensively, and defensively we’ve got to be able to keep the ball out in the lane.”
That game will take place on Wednesday, Jan. 27 at 7 p.m. at the Coors Events Center, and will be broadcast on the Pac-12 Networks.
On to California.
Last time the Buffs took on the Golden Bears, the game was far from pretty. For the first six minutes of the game, Colorado couldn’t muster a basket. With six minutes left in the game, the team went down by as much as 23 points before fighting back, but CU ran out of time. Cal decimated the Buffs in the end, 79-65.
Jordan Mathews (22 points), Jaylen Brown (17) and Tyrone Wallace (16) put on a clinic on their home court, so containing these three will give the Buffs a boost in this game and a chance at redemption.
Aside from Mathews, the Bears don’t have many players with stellar three-point shooting abilities, so the Buffs shouldn’t have any qualms with guarding the arc well on Sunday afternoon. But Cal is scoring an average of 75 points a game, which means it’ll pose more of an offensive threat than Colorado’s first opponent this week. If the home team can make sure it doesn’t allow any easy layups or shots inside and pushes the Bears to the outer rim, the Buffs have a good chance of sneaking away with a win.
The Buffs will take on the Bears on Sunday, Jan. 31 at 3 p.m. at home, and the game will be broadcast on Fox Sports 1.