SIOUX FALLS, S.D. — — It wasn't an easy assignment, yet George King took to it with focus and enthusiasm over the past year.
Asked to sit out last season and take a redshirt season in order to gain strength and hone his skills, King's return to the court was an impressive one Friday despite Colorado's 68-62 loss against No. 7 Iowa State.
"Losing to the No. 7 team by six, we could've gotten them," King said. "I'm still not satisfied with my performance tonight. I took some shots that I probably shouldn't have and missed some opportunities when I should have passed the ball."
His critical self-analysis aside, King led the Buffaloes with 14 points and drained several critical jump shots, finishing 4 for 8 from 3-point range. That total equaled the number of 3-pointers King hit in 27 games as a true freshman two seasons ago, albeit in limited minutes.
Perhaps most encouraging was that King displayed a penchant for connecting from long range at key junctures, giving CU its first lead since the opening moments on a 3-ball late the first half and sparking an 11-0 run with consecutive 3-pointers in the second half.
"George King we know is a talented player," Boyle said. "Look, I love this team. The thing I love about them is that they are really, really hurting right now. To me, that's a good sign. This is not a moral victory."
Friday's contest marked the CU debuts for Bosnian forward Kenan Guzonjic and Belgian guard Thomas Akyazili.
While Guzonjic logged just three minutes, Akyazili showed promise in his 14 minutes of action. Though Akyazili missed both his 3-point attempts, he finished with two points, and didn't record an assist, he also was noticeably active on defense and did not commit a turnover.
"I was a little bit nervous when the game started but I felt I had fun and enjoyed playing with these guys," Akyazili said. "We worked hard for this moment and we let it slip away. We have to keep our heads up. We play Auburn on Tuesday and we have to be ready and redeem ourselves."
The strength of this year's CU club resides up front, but it was a frustrating opener for forwards Josh Scott and Wesley Gordon. Despite grabbing 11 rebounds, Scott missed several prime chances early and finished just 5 for 16 from the floor. Gordon, who is hopeful about providing a more consistent scoring punch this season, went 2 for 7 before fouling out in the game's waning moments.
"We missed some shots in the paint I think we normally will make," Boyle said. "I don't think you'll see Josh Scott go 5 for 16. I don't think you're going to see Wesley Gordon go 2 for 7 combined together."
The Sanford Pentagon in Sioux Falls proved to be a uniquely quaint facility. Beginning its third season of use, the arena is marked by corner balconies that rise over old-fashioned clocks. The playing floor is refreshingly devoid of any logos or advertisements, yet still boasts modern amenities such as a sizeable electronic information board, private suites, and more than ample concessions.
"The thing that makes this facility great are the people that run it," Boyle said. "They've treated us very, very well. First class people, first class facility. A lot of our players hadn't been to South Dakota before, so they can cross that off their lists."
Senior guard Eli Stalzer made the trip but was in street clothes due to an undisclosed injury. Boyle described Stalzer's status as day-to-day ... CU started 1 for 10 from 3-point range but went 8 for 13 the rest of the way ... The Buffs grabbed just six offensive rebounds, with Scott recording five of them ... Providence transfer Josh Fortune went 3 for 8 and scored seven points in his CU debut.