SEATTLE – Even in the best-case scenario, with the Colorado Buffalos moving up to February to make a postseason push, the loss suffered in Washington Thursday night was the kind that will haunt a club.
But as head coach Tad Boyle is quick to point out, as much as it stings, there’s nothing that can be done about something that’s now square in the rearview mirror. Nothing, that is, except putting some profit on the board.
The Up and Down Buffs will look to book their three-game road trip with another triumphant climax to make up for the small Washington loss in between as CU completes its regular season series against Washington State on Sunday night. CU is expected to play again without striker Tristan da Silva, who is sidelined with an illness Boyle labeled as “COVID-related” on Saturday.
It will be the fourth time in five games that the Buffs have been without one of their starters, as senior guard Elijah Parquet missed both of last week’s home games against USC and UCLA before coming off the bench in Tuesday’s win in Oregon. As of Saturday, Boyle didn’t believe that other CU players would be sidelined.
“It’s just about the next game,” Boyle said. “I don’t watch road trips or home swings. We still have to figure out the next game, and for us it’s Washington State. As much as you’d like to look back, that loss in Washington is sure to haunt us as the season progresses. There are no two ways left, but there’s nothing we can do about it now. You pick up the pieces and move forward and try to improve without worrying about everything else. The teams that can do that and focus on the next game, the rest will take care of themselves.”
The volatile Buffs will have to perform again against one of the stronger defenses in the Pac-12, although the Cougars have not yet been thoroughly tested in league games.
In league games, Washington ranks first in points allowed per game (58.4), third in defensive field goal percentage (0.404), and first in defensive 3-point percentage (0.254). The Cougars are also third in the league when it comes to forcing sales, which could be a problem for a Buffs team that has had at least 16 sales in four consecutive games.
However, Washington state has only played seven Pac-12 games so far and only played one game against the other four best Pac-12 teams in terms of NET rankings – Arizona, UCLA, USC and Oregon (WSU suffered a loss of two points at home against USC on December 4.
“Our guys are resilient. They’ve shown it over and over this year,” Boyle said. “And I just feel like we have great leadership with Evan Battey. I am not concerned about our declining or emotional state. We just have to play better. And we have to play more consistently. I think that’s what you see when you see this team go through this season, it’s just the lack of consistency.
“Basketball is one thing. You always have ups and downs with that. Which we’ve had, but everyone has. But it’s the consistency in terms of our bounce back is the most important. We are home with 20 back to Washington and go down at their home with seven. That’s what’s frustrating, the lack of consistency. It’s not like we’re not talented enough or not good enough. It’s that we’re not consistent enough.”
CU Buffs Men’s Basketball at Washington State Cougars
TIP OFF: Sunday, 8:00 PM MT, Beasley Coliseum, Pullman, Wash.
BROADCAST: TV Fox Sports 1; Radio – 850 AM and 94.1 FM.
RECORDS: Colorado 13-7, 5-5 Pac-12 Conference; Washington State 11-7, 4-3.
COACHES: Colorado — Tad Boyle, Season 12 (246-150, 302-216 overall); Washington State — Nick Smith, Season 3 (41-36, 205-158 overall).
KEY PLAYERS: Colorado — F Jabari Walker, So., 14.0 ppg, 8.6 rpg; F Evan Battey, R-Sr., 12.0 ppg, 4.6 rpg, 0.524 field goal percentage; G Keeshawn Barthelemy, R-So., 11.0 ppg, 2.9 rpg, 2.7 apg. Washington State — G Michael Flowers, Gr., 12.7 ppg, , 3.6 rpg, 3.0 apg; G Noah Williams, Jr., 11.7 ppg, 4.1 rpg; G Tyrell Roberts, RJr., 11.0 pp.
COMMENTS: Washington state recorded a win at home against Utah on Wednesday. It was the Cougars’ first game in 11 days after last week’s COVID postponement against the Oregon Schools… Four players scored in double digits for the Buffs in their 83-78 home win against WSU on January 6. Battey led the way by going 7-for-8 with 20 points. Roberts led WSU by 25 points despite going 3-for-10 on 3-pointers…CU has 68-for-81 (0.840) on the free-throw line in the last four games…The Buffs recorded a comeback win at WSU last years but lost in their previous three visits to Pullman…CU returns home for three consecutive games, starting with Oregon on Thursday (8:00 PM FS1).