Cautiously optimistic is the best way to describe the status of Colorado Buffaloes senior Josh Scott.

CU's leader in scoring and rebounds, Scott missed this weekend's victories against Washington State and Washington due to an ankle injury suffered last week at Oregon State. Following Saturday's one-point win against Washington, head coach Tad Boyle expressed optimism about Scott's potential return Wednesday at USC, but stopped well short of declaring the senior ready to go.

"Hopefully we can get the big fella back next week," Boyle said. "That's the plan, but you don't know until Josh comes to me and says, 'Coach, I'm ready to go.' I know this — he's going to be back as soon as he can get back. I said this before the game with Mark Johnson on the radio: Josh Scott's toughness is unquestionable. He will play as soon as he's ready to play physically. I know that. He knows that.

"Hopefully it's Wednesday, but I won't know that until Wednesday."

Being able to gut out two wins without Scott — not to mention the second-half comeback they nearly put together last week at Oregon State after Scott went down — should serve the Buffs well over the final five regular season games. After facing the Trojans on Wednesday, CU visits UCLA on Saturday. Both games are set to tipoff at 9 p.m. MST.

"I know we've got a big challenge in L.A.," Boyle said. "USC is probably the most improved team in the league. UCLA is arguably one of the most talented teams in the league. Much, much better than their record indicates. We've got a challenge ahead of us in LA. We know that.


"We're going to take (Sunday) off. We're going to rest our minds, rest our bodies."

Fortune finds a way

Too often this season, when Josh Fortune's 3-point touch has been absent, the only other contribution the junior has made has been turnovers. That changed somewhat in the Scott-less wins against WSU and Washington.

Fortune struggled from the floor, going 8-for-30 overall and 1-for-10 from 3-point range in the two games, and he did commit a season-high seven turnovers against the Huskies on Saturday, but in each game Fortune still was able to make timely contributions.

Fortune recorded four assists and knocked down 7-of-9 free throws against Washington State, including a pair with 2 minutes, 4 seconds left in regulation that briefly reasserted the lead for CU in the seesaw finish. On Saturday, Fortune collected nine rebounds, his second-best total of the season, as CU's 20-rebound advantage proved critical in the 81-80 win.

"I found other ways," Fortune said. "I've got to get my shot going. I've got confidence it will get going soon here. But there's other ways to win games — getting my teammates involved and crashing the boards and making free throws."

Pat Rooney: or