Tad Boyle isn't in the habit of giving his team gifts over the holidays, but it is the time of the year he attempts to impart the best, most specific advice possible for each player.

Simply put, the midseason holiday hiatus always is the perfect time for the Colorado Buffaloes' leader to relay the one area of improvement each player should strive for that would help the team in the greatest capacity.

For Wesley Gordon, that advice was simple — finish better around the basket.

It has been a struggle from the field for much of the season for CU's leader in field goal percentage a year ago, yet that shortcoming has not deterred Gordon from continuing his ascension as one of the top interior defenders in the Pac-12 Conference heading into Friday's home date against Utah (7 p.m., Fox Sports 1).

"Coming back after Christmas and going into league play, I try to give every player one thing that they can get better at," Boyle said. "If you can do this better, our basketball team will be better. And Wes' one thing was finishing, because he is a much better finisher than he's shown this year.

"We know he's a better shooter than his numbers indicate. I know he's a better shooter than 39 percent from the field."

Gordon paced the Buffs with an impressive .550 shooting percentage a year ago, but he began this season by going 5-for-16 over the first three games and hasn't fared much better since. Gordon has shot 50 percent or better in only three of 15 games, taking a scoring average of seven points per game into the Utah contest.


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Though Gordon hasn't been finishing at the pace he would prefer, the prolonged shooting slump hasn't affected other aspects of his game. Gordon ranks second on the team with seven rebounds per game, and with 34 blocked shots through 15 games Gordon is on pace to produce one of the top five single-season blocked shot performances in program history.

While going 6-for-16 in CU's first two conference games last weekend at Cal and Stanford, Gordon also recorded three blocked shots while collecting nine rebounds in each game.

"I'm shooting more jump shots this year, so probably my percentage is going to go down," Gordon said. "But I've just got to keep working. Coach Boyle just keeps telling me to stay aggressive and keep attacking on offense. So it doesn't really cross my mind that much."

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