Tory Miller has been a staple off the bench for the Colorado Buffaloes men's basketball team, and yet the sophomore forward has been quick to lament some of the inconsistencies in his performances.
Miller is showing signs of becoming a regular interior force for the Buffs, and given the turn of events Saturday night at the Coors Events Center, Miller's continued emergence may be arriving at the perfect time.
Miller's career performance highlighted a thorough 95-53 victory against Hampton that gave the Buffs their 10th win in a row heading into games against Penn State and, possibly, No. 18 SMU in Las Vegas.
The overall effort was a reassuring one for CU one night after a sluggish start allowed an overmatched Nicholls team to harbor thoughts of an upset. Yet the celebration was muted somewhat due to an injury suffered by junior forward Wes Gordon, who went to the bench during the first half due to a right knee issue and did not return.
"We know Tory brings us energy and effort every night," head coach Tad Boyle said. "Recently, it's been really positive energy and positive effort. I think he's coming into his own. The one thing about Tory is that he makes things happen out there. He's really active on the boards. He's been rebounding the ball unbelievably well.
"I think it was a terrific night for Tory. Wes goes down, doesn't play in the second half, Tory steps up. That's what you like to see from your bench players. He's playing with a lot of confidence right now."
Gordon went for precautionary X-rays Saturday night, but his injury is not believed to be serious after he twice bashed his knee against the knees of Hampton players. However, his status for Tuesday's game against Penn State in Las Vegas is still to be determined.
One night after Miller recorded six points and 10 rebounds against Nicholls, he more than made up for Gordon's absence against Hampton. Miller posted his second career double-double, making 6-of-7 shots before finishing with a career-high 19 points to go with 10 rebounds. One of the few Buffs who has struggled at the free throw line, Miller went 7 for 8 in that department and also established a new career-best with three blocked shots.
"It's only two games," Miller said. "That was a tournament team we just played, and that's something to build off of, but I don't think I'm getting there yet. I've got to continue to build for an entire season until I can say it's being consistent in my mind. I'm just going to keep working at it and hopefully it ends up that way."
Miller's performance led a number of standout efforts for the Buffs in their solid bounceback win. Josh Scott eclipsed the 20-point mark for the fifth consecutive game, going 7 for 9 from the floor while finishing with 21 points and eight rebounds. George King knocked down 3 of 4 3-pointers and scored 12 points. And point guard Dom Collier set a new career-high with eight assists and also added 10 points.
"We defended, we rebounded...that team is probably going to do pretty well in their league so for us to come out, especially with the performance we had last night, kind of speaks volumes of this group," Scott said. "Everybody knows coach — he's defense and rebounding. Obviously he wasn't happy with the defensive effort (against Nicholls)."