CU men's basketball preview: Stanford
MATCHUP: Colorado Buffaloes (11-3, 0-1 Pac-12) at Stanford Cardinal (8-4, 1-0 Pac-12).
GAME TIME: Sunday, 8 p.m. MST, Maples Pavilion, Stanford, Calif.
BROADCAST: Radio — 760 AM; TV — ESPNU.
COACHES: Colorado — Tad Boyle, sixth season (119-71, 175-137 overall); Stanford — Johnny Dawkins, eighth season (149-104 at Stanford and overall).
LEADERS: Colorado — Scoring: F Josh Scott, Sr., 18.2 ppg; Rebounding: Scott, 9.2 rpg; Assists: G Dom Collier, So., 3.3 apg. Stanford — Scoring: F Rosco Allen, Sr., 14.2 ppg; Rebounding: F Michael Humphrey, So., 7.3 rpg; Assists: G Christian Sanders, Sr., 2.8 apg.
NOTABLE: The Buffs have won their past four games against Stanford, including the past two on the road. ... After leading the team with a .550 shooting percentage last season, Wes Gordon's mark dipped to .395 this season after a 3-for-9 night at Cal. ... Collier still holds a tenuous team lead in assists despite recording none in 45 minutes over the past two games.
Obviously, it is far too early for the University of Colorado men's basketball team to hit the panic button.
That said, on the heels of what was the Buffaloes' worst performance of the season by a wide margin late Friday night at Cal, CU's Pac-12 Conference showdown at Stanford on Sunday night has abruptly grown far more critical.
"The priority becomes to toughen up," CU coach Tad Boyle said. "It's league play and it's time to raise your game. Nothing is going to be given to you. We have to be stronger and tougher, and we have to be more efficient offensively.
"We can't wallow in this (Cal) loss. We've got to learn from it and it's got to sting enough that we come out with the eye of the tiger on Sunday night, ready to scratch and claw and do whatever we've got to do."
After shooting a season-low .318 from the floor in the league-opening loss at Cal and tallying just six overall assists — four off the bench from freshman Thomas Akyazili, two from Josh Fortune and none from starting point guard Dom Collier in 20 minutes — CU will attempt to get an offense that had been the team's strength for much of the season back on track.
CU shot below 40 percent just twice in the first 11 games but has fallen below that mark in each of the past three games, shooting .360 during that span. The Buffaloes' scoring average has dropped from a season-high 85.7 following a win against Hampton on Dec. 19 to 81.8.
Friday's loss also marked the seventh time this season, and second game in a row, the Buffs recorded more turnovers than assists.
"Every game is important. We just have to approach the (Stanford) game more ready than we were (at Cal)," Collier said. "We've just got to have a short memory and be ready for Sunday because we know they're a good team."
Stanford struggled through some injury issues during nonconference play but opened its Pac-12 schedule with an emphatic statement, knocking off No. 21 Utah in overtime.
"We've just got to learn from the (Cal) game and move on to the next one," senior Josh Scott said. "You take what you learn and apply it to the next game. It's conference play. Stuff happens. You're going to have ups and downs. (Cal) was a down, but we're going to learn from it and keep going up."
Injured senior Xavier Johnson rejoined the team in California but still has not met with Boyle regarding his status for the remainder of the season. Johnson suffered a torn Achilles tendon last summer and has not yet resumed full workouts at practice. Johnson remains in limbo as to whether he will attempt a comeback for the remainder of the Pac-12 slate or take a medical redshirt.
Second-leading scorer George King has shot just .313 (10-for-32) over the past three games, including a 4-for-15 mark from 3-point range. ... Josh Fortune played only four minutes in the first half against Cal after picking up two quick fouls and finished with a season-low three points.