By no means was it Dom Collier's first meaningful game in a Colorado Buffaloes uniform.
Yet Friday's gritty but ultimately disappointing loss against No. 7 Iowa State did mark the sophomore's first game as the Buffs' primary point guard, and by his own admission Collier played to mixed reviews.
His shooting and scoring provided encouraging signs. But the turnovers? Not so much.
Though Collier was far from the lone culprit of the 18 turnovers CU committed, it nonetheless will be the primary issue the Buffs focus on in the days leading up to Tuesday's visit to Auburn (1 p.m. MST, ESPN).
"I feel like we played hard and the effort was there, we just made a lot of little mistakes that cost us in the end," Collier said. "For myself, I turned the ball over too much to be a point guard. I need to hurry up and figure that out and cut that down."
In an opening game that saw the Buffs struggle from the floor (23-for-63), Collier and George King were legitimate bright spots, with Collier going 5-for-9 overall and 3-for-5 from 3-point range.
Collier's long-range effort set a new career standard for made 3-pointers in a game, and it provided a strong sign of improvement for a player who struggled to a .269 mark (18-for-67) from 3-point range a year ago.
However, Collier committed six turnovers in 25 minutes, accounting for a full third of the Buffs' 18 giveaways. Iowa State scored 16 points off CU turnovers, a critical scoring swing in an upset bid that fell short by just six points.
"I'm just really disappointed in myself for giving the ball up like that too many times," Collier said. "The little mistakes, I feel like if we eliminate them we'll be fine."
Addressing turnovers became a top offseason priority after the Buffs averaged 13.2 per game a year ago. But the early reviews have not inspired confidence, with head coach Tad Boyle saying his team had more than 20 in each of the Buffs' two preseason closed scrimmages prior to Friday's opener. No other player besides Collier committed more than two turnovers against Iowa State, and the Buffs other two top ball-handlers, senior Xavier Talton and freshman Thomas Akyazili, committed just one in 34 combined minutes.
"This is an opportunity for every player on our team to learn and get better from, and we will," Boyle said. "Our number wants to be 12 (turnovers) or lower. That's where our turnovers need to be. When we get our turnovers to 12 or lower, we'll be in good shape. We don't have to eliminate them. We just need to bring them down from that 18 number to 12. Against a good team, they're going to make us pay. And (Iowa State) made us pay."