CU men's basketball preview: Air Force
MATCHUP: Air Force Falcons (3-1) at Colorado Buffaloes (3-1).
GAME TIME: Wednesday, 7 p.m., Coors Events Center.
BROADCAST: Radio — 760 AM (also 740 AM in Colorado Springs); TV — Pac-12 Networks.
COACHES: Air Force: Dave Pilipovich, fourth year (49-56 at Air Force and overall); Colorado: Tad Boyle, sixth year (103-69, 167-135 overall).
LEADERS: Air Force — Scoring: G Trevor Lyons, So., 17.3 ppg; Rebounding: F Hayden Graham, Jr., 9.5 rpg; Assists: Graham, 4.8 apg. Colorado — Scoring: G/F George King, So., 18.8 ppg; Rebounding: F Josh Scott., Sr., 9.3 rpg; Assists: G Xavier Talton, Sr., and G Dom Collier, So., 2.5 apg.
NOTABLE: CU has won five games in a row against the Falcons and leads the series 21-3 ... Air Force has put together three consecutive wins after opening the season with a two-point loss at Southern Illinois ... Air Force has shot just 20 percent (13-for-65) from 3-point range ... CU hosts Northern Colorado on Sunday.
For Josh Scott, there is not a lone memory of the Air Force Academy that stands out among the many images from his childhood.
Instead, it is more of a collage of recollections. His first informal shoot-arounds while watching his dad conduct practice at the AFA Prep School. The pageantry of AFA graduation ceremonies. Spending his formative years living on the academy grounds.
The offspring of two former AFA athletes, Scott has always regarded the academy as a special place. On Wednesday night, Scott will attempt to make it a perfect 4-for-4 in his University of Colorado career against an Air Force program that has been a part of his entire life when the Falcons visit CU for a nonconference showdown.
"I've been there a lot. I remember living up there," Scott said. "It holds a special place in that they're the hometown team and my parents used to be cadets. I know they definitely go through a whole lot more than a regular college student would, so I do respect them for that.
"It's just kind of cool to go against a team you watched growing up and always kind of thought seeing yourself out there. It's always kind of nice playing against them."
With his dad having played football at AFA and his mom a former basketball player for the Falcons, Scott has made certain to bring his A game into every battle against Air Force. In three previous meetings, Scott has averaged 16.3 points and 7.7 rebounds. In those contests Scott shot .519 (14-for-27) from the floor and a torrid .875 (21-for-24) at the free throw line.
"I think (my parents) root for them in every game but this one," Scott said. "I think family comes over that allegiance. But they're going to root for Air Force the rest of the time. They've got to do that."
Scott is off to yet another solid start through the first four games of his senior season, averaging 15.5 points and 9.3 rebounds going into Wednesday night's contest.
Yet had head coach Tad Boyle been informed the most dependable weapon returning to his team would not be the team's leading scorer in any of the first four contests, the Buffaloes' leader likely would have braced for a rough first two weeks of the year.
However, the sudden emergence of George King, coupled with balanced scoring across the rotation, has helped the Buffs forge a 3-1 start despite needing a late rally to surge past upset-minded Nebraska-Omaha on Sunday.
If there was an encouraging sign for Boyle in an otherwise frustrating win against Omaha, it was that the blueprint of the game was of the sort that last year's CU team often let slip away. In this case, the Buffs played their worst game of the young season yet nonetheless came away with the victory.
Look for CU to ratchet up the intensity early against an Air Force team that will not be intimidated by the environs of the Coors Events Center.
"The thing you know about Air Force when you play them is that they're going to be tough, and they're going to be disciplined," Boyle said. "They run the Princeton system, which is different, so we've had to tweak a few things defensively. But we have to be mentally ready to go.
"When you play Nebraska-Omaha, it's all about guarding the ball, which we didn't do a very good job of. With Air Force, it's the guys who are away from the ball who are the most dangerous."