A week between games gave No. 25 Colorado some much-needed rest. It also gave the Buffaloes time to stew over a lost opportunity.
The Buffaloes (12-3, 1-1 Pac-12) will try to shake off their 76-68 loss to Oregon State last Sunday and get ready to host Utah this Sunday. Colorado moved into the rankings mostly on the strength of beating then-No. 4 Oregon on Jan. 2.
That win lost a little meaning when the Buffaloes blew a second-half lead against Oregon State, but with most of the conference schedule in front of Colorado, there’s time to learn from the defeat.
“The challenge is to get the guys to understand that nothing is going to be given to you,” Colorado coach Tad Boyle said after Sunday’s game. “I talked to them a lot about earning respect and what we’ve done over the last two or three four games, we’ve played to earn some respect, and how quickly that can go away. We earned some beating Dayton (on Dec. 21), and playing the way that we did against Iona, and then beating Oregon in here.”
Sunday’s game wraps up a four-game homestand, and Colorado would like nothing more than to head to Arizona with a victory over the Utes.
The Buffaloes have been getting great production from the tandem of McKinley Wright IV and Tyler Bey, the top two scorers on the team. Wright had 14 points and 10 assists against Oregon State and understands the importance of winning at home.
“We know we have to bounce back,” Wright said. “We have to do a better job protecting home court. We’ve dropped two here this year. Buff Nation comes out and supports us big time and we’re appreciative of that. We have to do a better job of having their back and winning games here.”
Utah (10-4, 1-1) had the opposite start to its conference season. The Utes beat the Beavers but lost to the Ducks last Sunday. Utah’s last two losses have come against ranked teams — a trend it wants to end Sunday.
Led by forward Timmy Allen’s 21.1 points and 7.9 rebounds per game, the Utes have relied heavily on their starters in the first half of the season. Allen has played all but 1 minute, 19 seconds of the first two conference games, and three players are averaging more than 30 minutes a game.
Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak said he needs to change that narrative.
“No doubt in my mind we’re going to need to engage our bench more and that’s going to be on me in some regards and some of it’s going to be on those guys,” Krystkowiak told the Desert News this week. “We can’t play three or four guys 30 to 35 minutes per game and expect to weather the storm through this conference, so we’re trying to encourage guys to step up and simplify things for them. We’ll see what happens this week.”
–Field Level Media