CU men's basketball preview: Colorado State
MATCHUP: Colorado Buffaloes (6-1) at Colorado State Rams (5-2).
GAME TIME: Sunday, noon, Moby Arena.
BROADCAST: Radio — 760 AM (Also 105.5 FM in Fort Collins); TV — Root Sports.
COACHES: Colorado — Tad Boyle, sixth season (106-69, 170-135 overall); CSU — Larry Eustachy, fourth season (74-34, 476-292 overall).
LEADERS: Colorado — Scoring: F Josh Scott, Sr., 17.9 ppg; Rebounding: Scott, 9.6 rpg; Assists: G Dom Collier, So., and G Josh Fortune, Jr., 2.7 apg. CSU — Scoring: G Gian Clavell, Sr., 21.3 ppg; Rebounding: F Emmanuel Omogbo, Jr., 8.9 rpg; Assists: G John Gillon, Jr.., 4.9 apg.
NOTABLE: CSU opened the season 5-0 but is coming off consecutive losses, first at UTEP in double overtime and Thursday at home against Long Beach State ... The Rams opened the season with a win against Northern Iowa, which knocked off then-No. 1 North Carolina a week later ... Fortune has gone 11-for-19 from 3-point range over the past three games ... The Buffs lead the all-time series 88-37 and also hold a 36-27 edge in Fort Collins.
Given the consistently productive career Josh Scott still is building upon at the University of Colorado, it is difficult to picture the 6-foot-10 forward ever struggling with anything more than the occasional low-hanging doorway.
There has, however, been a sort of green-and-gold kryptonite that has managed to dampen Scott throughout his tenure with the Buffaloes. CU's star senior, remarkably, has never enjoyed a big game in three tries against state rival Colorado State.
It is a blemish on an otherwise standout career that Scott hopes to fix on Sunday, as the Buffaloes visit CSU for the teams' annual battle for state bragging rights (Noon, Root Sports).
"They totally front him and limit his touches on the low block" CU coach Tad Boyle said. "We've got some things we're going to try to do against that. They basically take him out of the game. They did last year. He didn't play well, but you have to credit Colorado State to that. They're going to try to take away our best asset. Guess what? Josh Scott is one of our best assets."
A career 13.2 points-per-game scorer, Scott has not scored more than six points in any of his previous three games against the Rams. Last year's performance was particularly galling, as the Rams walked out of the Coors Events Center with a 62-60 victory. Scott missed all seven of his shots from the field, finishing with just two points to go with eight rebounds.
Scott scored only six points the previous year against CSU and managed just four points as a freshman, shooting a combined 4-for-12 in those games. While it almost goes without saying Scott would gladly take another sub-par game if he can still improve to 3-1 all-time against the Rams, he nonetheless is ready for his final shot at his team's biggest rival.
"Their players, our players — everyone wants to have a good game," Scott said. "I'll take the W and me play poorly over me having a good game and we lose. But I think a part of that success is that I have to play well. Other people have to make plays, but I do think I have to play my part."
Scott enters his final showdown against the Rams riding one of the hottest stretches of his career — he is shooting .755 (40-for-53) while averaging 19 points during the Buffs' six-game winning streak — yet the key for CU Sunday likely is at the other end of the floor. The Rams are averaging almost 28 3-point attempts per game and have made at least 10 in four of the past five games.
Improving his team's 3-point defense has been a focal point for Boyle all season. The Buffs will get a huge test in that department on Sunday.
"Colorado State, they are a hot-and-cold jump-shooting team," Boyle said. "They can get hot, and they can reel off points real quick. The Auburn crowd was raucous. This one is going to take it up a notch. Auburn fans don't care about Colorado. Colorado State fans care about Colorado. They don't like us. So it's going to be an extra level of hostility."