Contact CU Independent Sports Staff Writer Kevin Pankow at Kevin.Pankow@colorado.edu
After losing both games on their road trip to Oregon last weekend, the University of Colorado men’s basketball team is looking to bounce back this week against Washington State and Washington at home.
Colorado’s losses to the Oregon schools accounted for the first two-game losing streak all year in conference play. Additionally, the Buffs would be tied for first in the Pac-12 had they won both of their games last weekend.
The last time the Buffs played the Washington schools, they split the series. They lost to Washington by 12 points and beat Washington State by five. Since their trip to Washington, the Buffs have gone 2-2 in conference play.
Colorado stands at sixth place in the conference with a 17-7 record (6-5 in the Pac-12), whereas the Washington State Cougars, on the other hand, sit dead last in the Pac-12 with a 9-14 record ( 1-10 in the Pac-12) .
Washington State has lost its past four conference games since last playing the Buffs. The Buffs rank seventh in both scoring offense and scoring defense in the Pac-12, whereas the Cougars sit in tenth place.
Although the Buffs are fifth place in conference play, with seven games left in the season (four at home and three away), the Buffs still have time to make their case to be chosen in the NCAA tournament. Colorado’s RPI still remains among the top 30 in the nation, and the Pac-12 conference has the second-highest conference RPI rank.
The Buffs are 12-1 when playing on their home court this season, 4-4 when playing away, and 1-2 on neutral courts. The only loss the Buffs suffered at home this year was against Utah, when Lorenzo Bonam hit the game-winning floater, giving the Utes a 56-54 victory.
Colorado will host Washington State on Thursday. The Cougars are averaging 73.2 points per game off of 47.2 percent shooting from the field. Washington State ranks eighth in the Pac-12 for defensive rebounds and last in offensive rebounds. Junior forward Josh Hawkinson leads the Cougars with 15.9 points per game and 11 rebounds per game.
The Buffs are averaging 77 points per game off of 43.5 percent shooting from the field. Colorado is also first in the Pac-12 in defensive rebounds and second in offensive rebounds.
If Colorado can win the rebounding battle and commit minimal turnovers, then they should be able to cruise past Washington State. The Buffs can’t let the game slip away from them.
As Boyle explained after Saturday’s rough loss to Oregon State, “You can’t commit 24 turnovers and expect to win.”
Perhaps the greater challenge for the Buffaloes comes when Colorado hosts the Washington Huskies on Saturday. The Huskies are fourth in the conference with a 15-8 record (7-4 in conference). The Huskies have only won two of their last five games since last playing the Buffs, but all five of those games have been within a 10-point margin. Washington also sits in first place in scoring offense but comes in dead last in scoring defense.
In Colorado’s last meeting at Washington, senior guard Andrew Andrews scored 33 points with six rebounds and four assists. Freshman guard Dejounte Murray and freshman forward Marquese Chriss both scored 17 points as well in Washington’s win.
The Buffs should feel more comfortable against the Huskies on their home court this time around, but they need to keep the scoring low. Colorado is going to need to step up defensively and show some consistency, both of which have been struggles at times this season.
Washington’s record should not undermine the talent, quickness, and athleticism on this team. The Huskies are more explosive and move the ball up the court quicker than the Cougars do. The Buffs won’t have a walk in the park against Washington, but it should be a very manageable game for Colorado.
If Colorado can get back on track this weekend against Washington and Washington state, they can continue to move forward in conference play in hopes of landing a top seed in next month’s Pac-12 Tournament.
The Buffs will host Washington State Thursday, Feb. 11 at Coors Event Center. Tipoff is scheduled for 8:00 p.m. MST, and the game will be broadcast on Pac-12 Network. The Buffs also host Washington Saturday, Feb. 13. Tipoff is scheduled for 12:00 p.m. MST and the game will be broadcast on Pac-12 Network.