Syracuse was not in town.
The Buffs and the Colorado student body still treated Thursday's game against undermanned Arizona State with the type of intensity and respect that would be required to face the No. 1 Orange and its zone.
The result was a mostly comfortable 69-54 victory for CU over the Sun Devils that had Tad Boyle breathing a sigh of relief afterwards at the Coors Events Center.
"This game really scared me," Boyle said. "I'm so thankful we were able to play Arizona State on the front end of this trip because they are so hard to prepare for with their matchup zone."
Saturday's opponent, Arizona, is a much better team. But getting the Buffs and their supporters focused to welcome the tradition-rich Wildcats won't be an issue.
"Marquee game. It's a great opportunity," Boyle said. "I've said this before, but we can have the best home-court in the Pac-12. ... When our fans show up, we can have a lot of fun together."
Boulder has not been an enjoyable place for bad teams to be lately.
The Buffs (12-6, 4-2), thanks in part to a 92-34 victory over New Orleans to wrap up non-conference play and a 73-33 romp over Utah to begin Pac-12 play, entered the week with the conference's best field-goal percentage defense (.394).
CU held the Sun Devils (6-12, 2-4) to 33.3 percent shooting through 20 minutes and led 31-15 at halftime. That was the fewest points at half for Arizona State since Feb. 25, 2006 (38-13) at Arizona.
Boyle's team also held Texas Southern (16) and Utah (11) to joyless first-half scoring totals at the Coors Events Center this season.
"Coming from our second half at Stanford when we didn't really defend that well we just wanted to come back and do what we do," senior forward Austin Dufault said
Nate Tomlinson was 3-for-3 from the field with eight points, one assist and no turnovers at the intermission.
CU took control early with an 11-0 run that included 10 points in the paint and was highlighted by a Dufault dunk on a nice touch pass from Shane Harris-Tunks.
The Buffs led 19-4 before Chris Colvin ended a field goal drought of 9:16 for the Sun Devils.
"I don't think our execution was very good," Arizona State head coach Herb Sendek said after his team allowed CU to score 25 points off 14 turnovers and was out-rebounded 34-22. "We didn't get the ball to the entry point and we didn't do some basic things that we are capable of doing. I think we got hit between the eyes early."
The Buffs led by 20 points midway through the second half (45-25 with 11:28 left) before taking the foot off the gas a little too early.
Boyle was getting angry and the crowd of 8,278 was growing listless after the visitors cut the deficit to 52-38 on a 3-pointer by Carrick Felix.
And then Andre Roberson electrified the building by dunking over 7-foot-2 center Jordan Bachynski.
The Buffs quickly restored order on the scoreboard and Sendek was ejected from the game with 4:12 remaining after picking up two technical fouls for arguing a call.
CU converted all four free throws and Dufault made the score 65-43 with a basket on the ensuing possession.
"I thought our focus tonight was terrific," Boyle said. "I felt like it was there for pretty much the full 40 minutes. And against Arizona State, you have to do that because they are a grind-it-out team."
Nine of the 13 CU players who entered the game scored. Roberson finished with 12 points and 10 rebounds to highlight the box score while Spencer Dinwiddie (12 points), Askia Booker (11) and Dufault (11) also scored in double figures.
And now Arizona comes to town.
"I know they have a great program," Dufault said. "But we're excited to play them and show them what we can do as well."