For the first time this season, Colorado Buffaloes head coach Tad Boyle tinkered with his starting lineup.
A starter in all but one game a year ago, junior guard Dominique Collier made his first appearance in the starting lineup this season in place of George King. Afterward head coach Tad Boyle said it was a mild punitive measure, as King missed the Buffs' first practice after the holiday break.
Collier, who missed nine games earlier this year due to a stress fracture in his foot, entered Sunday's game with a solid 7-for-13 mark on 3-pointers. But he was a non-factor in a 76-60 loss against Utah, going 1-for-4 from the floor before finishing with five points and no assists.
"George was late. He missed a practice coming back from break," Boyle said. "He just missed a rotation, so it wasn't a big deal. Not an issue with that. The five guys who started the game in the first half did a pretty good job. The five guys who started the game in the second half didn't do a very good job.
"It's not about who started. Everybody played double-digit minutes. Everybody had an opportunity to impact the game."
Indeed, King was on the floor to start the second half, this time taking the spot of senior Josh Fortune, who went 1-for-5 overall and 0-for-3 on 3-pointers while compiling just one rebound and no assists in 14 minutes. Fortune entered the game appearing as if his 3-point slump might be over, having gone 7-for-15 in the previous three games.
"It's just basketball. I don't care about starting," King said. "I'm not going to change my game whether I'm coming off the bench or I start. I'm going to come out and do what I do."
Gordon foul trouble
Once again, senior forward Wesley Gordon endured early foul trouble that got him off-track for the remainder of the game.
Gordon was whistled for both fouls within a 10-second span early in the first half, sending him to the bench until after halftime. While Gordon's second foul was a questionable call while he attempted to block a shot, his first occurred roughly 30 feet from the basket while attempting to trap a Utah player along the sideline.
With Gordon spending extended time on the bench, reserve forward Tory Miller had one of his finer games of the season, going 4-for-5 and finishing with eight points. Miller has gone 8-for-9 over the past three games.
"The first one was ticky-tack. The second one was a bad call," Boyle said. "We tried to weather the storm. Tory I thought gave us great minutes in the first half. He finished down low and did a good job on (David) Collette. We missed Wes, there's no doubt about that, but that's just part of it."
Utah's Kyle Kuzma, who missed the Utes' two previous games and most of a third due to an ankle injury, returned to the starting lineup and finished with 14 points and six rebounds...While the rebounds were even at 33-33, it marked the fourth time in six games the Buffs were unable to post a rebounding advantage...By going 0-for-2 on 3-pointers, sophomore guard Thomas Akyazili watched his season 3-point mark drop to 1-for-16.