It was an unsettling omen when freshman guard Bryce Peters began his collegiate career on the bench, saddled with a suspension for the season's first two games due to a violation of team rules.
Peters dug himself a deeper hole a few weeks later, when a missed study hall session led to a first-half benching at Portland on Dec. 3.
Yet those missteps seem well in the rearview mirror for Colorado's rookie guard, who continued his impressive midseason run by playing a critical role in the Buffaloes' 81-74 win Thursday night at Stanford.
"It felt great. Coach has given me a lot of freedom on the court, and I've been feeling a lot more confident since the Oregon State game," Peters said. "I think the older guys are giving me a lot of freedom. Even at practice they're telling me to score if I get the opportunity or just attack guys."
Peters knocked down his first three 3-point attempts against the Cardinal, with each of them coming at critical junctures. His first long-range bomb near the end of the first half helped give the Buffs a 10-point lead at the break. Midway through the second half CU put together a game-breaking 13-2 run, with Peters starting that burst with another 3-pointer. Peters added two free throws and his final 3-pointer during the run.
Peters also went 4-for-4 at the free throw line, finishing with 13 points in 14 minutes.
Given the first start of his career last week against Oregon State when Boyle shook up his team with an all-reserve starting lineup, Peters responded by going 5-for-6 with a season-best 15 points. In the past three games he has gone 6-for-7 on 3-pointers.
"He's a good player offensively," Boyle said. "He can get hot and make shots, which sometimes we'll need him to do. And tonight he did it. He hit one, then we called a play for him and he hit another one. That's nice as a coach when that happens."
Miller steps in
Less than three minutes into the game, senior Wesley Gordon picked up his second foul and a quick return to the bench. Gordon never got on track, finishing with just two points and two rebounds, but the continued solid play from junior Tory Miller has given the Buffs another reliable option in the paint.
Miller matched a season-high with 10 points, making 4-of-5 shots from the field while adding seven rebounds and a pair of assists. The performance continued an impressive run through Pac-12 play for Miller, who now is shooting .674 (28-for-43) in league games.
"Coach always talks about being ready, staying ready," Miller said. "I think the guys are getting me the ball in good position to score."
CU's victory marked the ninth time in program history the Buffs have rebounded from a losing streak of at least four games to record at least three consecutive wins. That last time it occurred was the 1990-91 season when it happened twice...After going 4-for-23 on 3-pointers in a six-game span, Derrick White has gone 5-for-6 in the past two games...Xavier Johnson has averaged 7.1 rebounds over the past seven games.