Collecting steals obviously is a desirable trait amid any defensive performance, yet taken itself a team's total of steals does not necessarily reflect its overall defensive prowess.
However, in the case of the Colorado Buffaloes, coach Tad Boyle's bunch compiled its two best steal totals of the season in this weekend's home wins against Washington and Washington State. And perhaps not coincidentally, CU enjoyed two of its better all-around performances of the season, which included an 81-49 thrashing of Washington State Sunday night for the Buffs' fifth win in six games.
"I would say it has to do with a lot of energy," said freshman guard Bryce Peters, who on Sunday recorded his first two-steal effort since he posted three in his first game of the season against Louisiana-Monroe on Nov. 17. "Guys have been coming out like we're down 20 from the (opening) jump, playing better on the defensive end.
"And we've been playing better on the defensive end. Most people don't talk about playing better on the defensive end because people say it's a 'I got my man' kind of thing. Once we keep playing together, they give us the ball."
CU recorded 10 steals for the first time this year during Thursday's win against Washington. The Buffs were even better Sunday night against the Cougars, recording a season-most 12 steals backed by three apiece from seniors Derrick White and Wesley Gordon.
It was the first time CU has recorded consecutive 10-steal games since December of 2012 and the first time the Buffs have achieved that mark in conference play since they did it in three consecutive games in January of 2010.
CU's 12 steals on Sunday helped give the Buffs a whopping 34-5 advantage in points off turnovers.
Gordon and fellow senior Xavier Johnson returned to action on Sunday after serving a two-game suspension for a violation of undisclosed team rules. Gordon put together a solid all-around game, going 3-for-4 from the floor with seven points. He led the Buffs with seven rebounds and his three steals accounted for a season-high.
Johnson struggled from the floor, going just 1-for-8 from the field with just four points, ending a run of nine consecutive games with at least 10 points. Johnson did finish with five rebounds as the Buffs outrebounded WSU 37-24. Johnson passed Richard Roby for 15th-place on the program's all-time rebounding list.
CU improved to 6-0 all-time at home against Washington State...Peters has averaged 9.5 points over the past six games, raising his season scoring average from 3.2 to 4.8...The Buffs have shot at least .500 in four of the past six games...Junior forward Tory Miller matched a season-high with 11 points. He has scored at least 10 points in four consecutive games...Head coach Tad Boyle noted that freshman guard Deleon Brown is in the concussion protocol and will be reevaluated after CU's off-day on Monday. Brown has missed the past two games after suffering the injury at practice early last week.