For a team that attempts to play at a high pace, and still is averaging a respectable 78.4 points per game despite a recent offensive slide, the Colorado Buffaloes are not exactly running teams out of the gym.
It is a trait head coach Tad Boyle wants to see change. The Buffs managed just four fast-break points during Friday night's frustrating loss to Utah, continuing a trend in which CU has managed to attack at an aggressive pace while being unable to finish consistently at the rim.
"We have to finish better in transition," Boyle said. "When we get as many stops as we got (against Utah), we have an advantage. We have to finish more than we finish."
In three Pac-12 Conference games so far, the Buffs have been credited with just 10 total fast-break points. In two pre-Christmas games in Las Vegas, CU managed four fast-break points in a win against Penn State and only two in a loss against SMU. CU has reached double-figures in fast-break points against just two Division I opponents — 10 against Portland in the third game of the season and 11 against BYU on Dec. 12. (CU also had 12 against Division II Fort Lewis on Dec. 2.)
The shortcoming appears to be less about opportunity than effectiveness, as CU has been unable to find a go-to scorer on the break. Senior forward Josh Scott is probably the team's most skilled finisher, but he also is the player who more often than not is collecting the rebound at the defensive end. George King has displayed a willingness to get to the rim has struggled once getting there, with his best scoring efforts typically occurring when he has been hot from the outside, as was the case in an 8-for-10 effort against Utah.
Sophomore point guard Dom Collier has shown the softest finishing touch, but he often is the player tasked with leading the break, and at 6-foot-2 he does not boast the potential explosiveness of CU's taller wing players.
"(Collier) is pretty good at that, but I think that's an area where we have to improve," Boyle said.
Oregon, which visits the Coors Events Center on Jan. 17, had been optimistic about getting its entire lineup back in the fold after a series of injuries but suffered a loss this week with a setback to guard Dylan Ennis.
Ennis averaged 9.9 points and 3.5 assists while starting all 36 games for Villanova a year ago before transferring to Oregon. He missed the Ducks' first 12 games after suffering a foot injury during the preseason but, after returning briefly for a pair of games, Ennis re-injured his foot and will be lost for the season.
Wednesday's late start at home against Oregon State (9 p.m.) will be televised on ESPNU...Reserve guards Thomas Akyazili and Xavier Talton have combined to go just 2-for-19 from the floor over the past three games...Though he has grabbed nine rebounds in three consecutive games, Wesley Gordon's field goal percentage dipped to .376 after Friday's 2-for-10 night. Gordon led CU with a .550 mark last year...Josh Fortune has averaged 3.4 turnovers over the past five games.