PORTLAND — The top 3-point shooter in the Pac-12 Conference from a year ago still is struggling from long range.
To get back on track, George King took his game inside.
Taking advantage of Portland's zone defense and often getting paired against the Pilots' smaller guards, the 6-foot-6 King got the job done in the paint during the first half of the Colorado Buffaloes' 76-63 win at Portland.
For a team that didn't pull away until the second half, King's 5-for-7 mark with 10 of his 12 points in the first half kept the Buffs close through the first 20 minutes.
"That got me going," King said. "I just tried to take advantage of my size against some of their guards. That's all I did."
King finished 6-for-11 overall but went 0-for-4 from 3-point range, dropping is season 3-point percentage to .346 (9-for-26) after hitting at a .456 rate last year. However it could be a good sign for the winner of the 2016 Pac-12 Conference Most Improved Player award that he was able to find other ways to contribute. King also recorded five rebounds in 30 minutes.
"He got inside against that zone and finished for us," head coach Tad Boyle said. "George cannot live and die by the 3-point shot. He's too good of a player to not help us in other ways. One is with offensive rebounds. The other is getting the ball in the paint and using his body to finish. I thought he played more within himself tonight. He was trying to do the right things out there."
For the first time since regaining his eligibility after starting the season with a two-game suspension due to a violation of team rules, freshman Bryce Peters did not play in the first half against Portland. Boyle termed it a punitive measure for Peters after he missed a study hall session. Which means out of the 16 halves of action CU has played through eight games, Peters has been ineligible for five of them.
To his credit, the rookie guard hit a critical 3-pointer in the second half.
"It's behind him, but he's got to learn there are consequences to that," Boyle said. "I wish we didn't have to deal with that stuff, but as a college basketball coach sometimes you do. We've got standards we've got to live up to."
With 10 rebounds, senior Wesley Gordon posted his first double-digit rebounding game since the first two games of the season, though he also has had four nine-rebound games. Gordon is averaging 9.5 boards per game...Sophomore guard Thomas Akyazili's shooting struggles continued, as he went 0-for-4 overall and 0-for-2 on 3-pointers. Akyazili is 0-for-10 this season from 3-point range.