CU men's basketball preview: Portland

MATCHUP: Portland Pilots (1-1) at Colorado Buffaloes (1-1).

GAME TIME: Friday, 7 p.m., at Coors Events Center.

BROADCAST: Radio — 850 AM; TV — Pac-12 Networks.

COACHES: Portland: Eric Reveno, 10th year (129-159 at Portland and overall); Colorado: Tad Boyle, sixth year (101-69; 165-135 overall).

LEADERS: Portland — Scoring: G Bryce Pressley, Sr., 20.0 ppg; Rebounding: Pressley 7.0 rpg; Assists: G Alec Wintering, Jr., 8.5 apg; Colorado — Scoring: G/F George King, So., 20.5 ppg; Rebounding: F Josh Scott, Sr., 10.0 rpg; Assists: G Dom Collier, So., 4.0 apg.

NOTABLE: Portland opened with a win at home against the Oregon Institute of Technology before suffering a road loss at UC-Davis ... Through two games CU has shot a solid .447 (17-for-38) from 3-point range and .757 (28-for-37) at the free-throw line ... The Buffs continue a five-game homestand Sunday against Nebraska-Omaha.

For months, University of Colorado men's basketball coach Tad Boyle has reiterated that two of his team's biggest challenges would arrive with the very first two games of the season.

The opening foray wasn't a complete success, but given the hostile arenas the Buffaloes visited, CU is more than happy to be bringing a 1-1 mark into its home opener Friday against the University of Portland (7 p.m., Pac-12 Networks).


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The first contest at the Coors Events Center begins a stretch of nine consecutive games in the Buffs' home state, with a date at Colorado State on Dec. 6 as the only road game during that span.

"I just kind of looked at these first two games and I told myself that if we go 2-0 we're going to be pretty pleased and happy, but we're not going to get too high," CU coach Tad Boyle said. "If we go 0-2 we're going to be disappointed and maybe a little bit down, but we can't get too low. We went 1-1. The whole key for us is to continue to learn as a group and individually and get better on a day-to-day basis. That's all we're concerned with now."

With so many question marks surrounding CU in 2015-16, the opening trial by fire would have given the Buffs valuable experience even if they had gone 0-2. Returning home with a split relieves the Buffs of the burden of disappointment while giving Boyle a chance to continue stressing improvement against a string of opponents that shouldn't bring as much heat as the first two.

George King has shown signs of answering at least one of those preseason questions for the Buffs, going 13-for-23 from the floor while erupting for 41 points in the first two games, yet CU remains far from a polished product.

The group already has proved itself to coachable, responding to Boyle's disappointment at recording just six offensive rebounds in the opening loss against Iowa State. CU took heed, grabbing nine offensive rebounds against Auburn and increasing the team's second-chance points from eight in the opener to 13.

Continuing to iron out those wrinkles in the coming weeks against more modest competition will be a critical factor in CU's quest to compete for the Pac-12 Conference title.

"We're not concerned about with who our next game is, or how many games we have against ranked opponents," Boyle said. "We tested ourselves with Iowa State. We tested ourselves with Auburn. We know what we have to get better at. Now it's our job to go back to Boulder and get better at the things we have to get better at. That's going to be the focus."

Pat Rooney: rooneyp@dailycamera.com or twitter.com/prooney07