CU men's basketball preview: Auburn
MATCHUP: Colorado Buffaloes (0-1) at Auburn (1-0).
GAME TIME: Tuesday, 1 p.m., at Auburn Arena in Auburn, Ala.
BROADCAST: Radio — 760 AM; TV — ESPN.
COACHES: Colorado: Tad Boyle, sixth year (100-69; 164-135 overall); Auburn: Bruce Pearl, second year (16-20; 478-165 overall).
LEADERS: Colorado — Scoring: F George King, So., 14.0 ppg; Rebounding: F Josh Scott, Sr., 11.0 rpg; Assists: G Xavier Talton, Sr., 4.0 apg. Auburn — G Kareem Canty, Jr., 20.0 ppg; Rebounding: F Horace Spencer, Fr., 7.0 rpg; Assists: Canty, 4.0 apg.
NOTABLE: Josh Scott's next blocked shot will be the 114th of his career and move him into a sixth-place tie with Donnie Boyce on CU's all-time list ... Four players scored in double figures for Auburn in its opening win against UAB ... The Buffs host their home opener Friday against Portland. After facing Auburn, CU does not play outside Colorado until Dec. 22.
Wesley Gordon had an opportunity to begin his junior season with a resounding statement.
Charged with providing more offense for the University of Colorado men's basketball team this season, Gordon also has been working to overcome a personal hurdle that often has seen him become unable to recover from slow starts in a particular game.
Gordon had an opportunity to take a step in the right direction on both fronts on the season's first play Friday against No. 7 Iowa State. Instead, as befell the Buffs throughout much of their opener, Gordon's attempt from the paint went awry.
Foul trouble soon ensued, and Gordon never got on track in a six-point loss. As the Buffs look to rebound Tuesday afternoon at Auburn (1 p.m. MST, ESPN), Gordon also will attempt to bounce back. He turned in arguably the best game of his career a year ago against the Tigers.
"I have to control what I can control and not let fouls or anything else affect my game," Gordon said. "I was real tentative after I got the two fouls. I wasn't trying to get another one so I was playing real tentative on offense and defense. The fouls messed up my whole rhythm. Obviously, I missed some shots, but it was mainly the fouls."
CU's leader in field-goal percentage last season, Gordon made only 2 of 7 shots against Iowa State. After picking up two fouls early, Gordon finished with just four points, three rebounds and two turnovers in 20 minutes. During the preseason Gordon admitted that last year he often faded after missing his first shot or two, yet insisted Friday's shortcomings were more a result of the foul trouble.
Gordon may be spurred toward a bounce-back effort by watching his performance against Auburn last year. Gordon made 8 of 11 shots against the Tigers, finishing with 16 points and 12 rebounds as the Buffs routed Auburn by 31 points. It was one of four double-doubles Gordon recorded last season.
"We had dribble penetration that got me a lot of good shots (last year)," Gordon said. "Hopefully, we can do that again, and I need to stay aggressive."
Auburn opened the season with a one-point win against an Alabama-Birmingham squad that knocked off Iowa State in the first round of the NCAA tournament last spring. The Tigers debuted three key newcomers — T.J. Dunans, Tyler Harris and Kareem Canty — who combined for 51 points. According to CU head coach Tad Boyle, those new faces make the Tigers a far more formidable foe than a year ago.
"Auburn is much-improved. Very athletic," Boyle said. "Play extremely hard with a lot of energy and passion. They're much, much better than they were last year.
"With Wes, it's just to continue to be aggressive. He's a good player. I don't think we're going to see a lot of nights where he and Josh (Scott) are going to go 7-for-23 from the field. They're our two most efficient scorers. When they're not, we've got to pick it up in other areas. I thought we did that to some degree, but not to the degree that we need to."