CU men's basketball preview: Washington
MATCHUP: Washington Huskies (15-9, 7-5 Pac-12 Conference) at Colorado Buffaloes (18-7, 7-5).
GAME TIME: Saturday, noon, Coors Events Center.
BROADCAST: Radio — 850 AM; TV — Pac-12 Networks.
COACHES: Washington — Lorenzo Romar, 13th season (285-168, 378-256 overall); Colorado — Tad Boyle, sixth season (126-75, 182-141 overall).
LEADERS: Washington — Scoring: G Andrew Andrews, Sr., 20.6 ppg; Rebounds: G Dejounte Murray, Fr., 6.2 rpg; Assists: Murray, 3.4 apg. Colorado — Scoring: F/C Josh Scott, Sr., 16.7 ppg; Rebounding: Scott, 9.1 rpg; Assists: G Dom Collier, So., 3.1 apg.
NOTABLE: Washington and CU are among three teams with 7-5 league records heading into Friday's action around the Pac-12, trailing Oregon (9-3), USC (7-3), and Arizona (7-4). USC and Arizona each play Friday night before battling each other on Sunday...Wesley Gordon has recorded consecutive double-doubles for the Buffs while connecting on 11-of-17 shots...Washington leads the series 11-9, but CU holds a 6-2 edge in Boulder...Andrews, who leads the Pac-12 in scoring, made 16-of-17 free throws while finishing with 33 points in UW's win against the Buffs three weeks ago...Collier enjoyed a superb game at UW, making 6-of-7 3-pointers and scoring a career-best 21 points.
They're exhausted, physically battered, and emotionally drained from an epic double-overtime odyssey that had the Colorado Buffaloes' NCAA tournament dreams hanging in the balance.
Yet just imagine how difficult it would be for the Buffs to bounce back on short notice if all their tireless work had not ended in victory.
Roughly 12 hours after exiting the Coors Events Center following a season-saving double-overtime win against Washington State, CU reconvened to soak its weary bones in ice baths and turn its attention to the Washington Huskies, whose extra day of rest following a Wednesday loss at Utah might prove critical in the teams' key Pac-12 Conference showdown Saturday at noon.
"Physically, this is what we do. This is what we signed up for," sophomore forward Tory Miller said. "Mentally, (Washington) got our card in Seattle. So we've got that in the back of our mind. They know how big this game is. We know how big this game is."
While the 40-hour gap between tipoffs going into Saturday's early start isn't uncharted territory for a team that played games on back-to-back dates twice earlier this season, none of the short turnarounds previously this season were quite as physically challenging as what the Buffs will face against a Washington team that defeated them three weeks ago in Seattle.
With leading scorer Josh Scott already sidelined and junior Tre'Shaun Fletcher soon joining him on the bench, Thursday's double-overtime win forced most of CU's remaining rotation to log an unprecedented amount of playing time.
Wesley Gordon (45 minutes), Xavier Talton (44), George King (41), and freshman Thomas Akyazili (38) all set new career-highs for minutes played. Despite early foul trouble that sent Miller to the bench for the final 10 minutes, 41 seconds of the first half, the sophomore forward still played a season-most 27 minutes. Josh Fortune matched his season-high with 32 minutes.
Perhaps the only CU player less weary than his teammates is sophomore point guard Dom Collier, who battled foul trouble before fouling out with 2:39 left in regulation. Collier matched a season-low with 14 minutes but still contributed a critical 3-point play that briefly recaptured the lead for the Buffs during the frenetic final minutes of regulation.
"These guys got out of this building at midnight (Thursday) night and didn't get to bed until one," CU head coach Tad Boyle said. "They had class (Friday) morning at eight or nine in the morning, and then we're back in the gym. It's a quick turnaround. Physically, we're not doing a lot today. We're going to talk and walk through our game plan.
"Our legs will be fine. I'm going to make sure their legs are fresh. They have to make sure their minds are fresh. That's the part as a coach you don't have control over other than just making them cognizant about it."
The status of Scott and Fletcher will be game-time decisions late Saturday morning for the Buffs. Scott missed his first game of the season on Thursday due to a sprained ankle, and Fletcher joined him after playing just six minutes against WSU due to a similar injury suffered at practice Wednesday.
"Fletch is getting better. Josh is getting better every single day," Boyle said. "We'll find out what their status is tomorrow at game time. I think they're both getting better though."