CU men's basketball preview: Oregon
MATCHUP: Colorado Buffaloes (16-11, 6-8 Pac-12 Conference) at No. 7 Oregon Ducks (23-4, 12-2).
GAME TIME: Saturday, 1 p.m. MST, Matthew Knight Arena.
BROADCAST: TV — FOX; Radio — 850 AM and 94.1 FM.
COACHES: Colorado — Tad Boyle, 7th season (146-91, 202-157 overall); Oregon — Dana Altman, 7th season (177-68, 587-311 overall).
LEADERS: Colorado — Scoring: G Derrick White, Sr., 17.1 ppg; Rebounding: F Wesley Gordon, Sr., 7.2 rpg; Assists: 4.2 apg. Oregon — Scoring: F Dillon Brooks, Jr., 15.1 ppg; Rebounding: F Jordan Bell, Jr., 8.1 rpg; Assists: G Payton Pritchard, Fr., 3.7 apg.
NOTABLE: Oregon's 41-game home win streak is the longest active streak in the nation...White has shot .688 (22-for-32) over the past three games. He has averaged 19.9 over the past nine games...After recording no more than eight steals in any of the first 24 games of the season, the Buffs have reached double-figures in each of the past three games...With 17 points Thursday at Oregon State, senior Xavier Johnson moved into 14th-place on CU's all-time scoring list (1,360). With eight more Johnson would pass current CU radio voice Scott Wilke and Stephane Pelle for 12th-place...Gordon needs four blocked shots to become just the second CU player to post 200 in his career...The Buffs have lost their past two games at Oregon and own a 2-5 road mark against the Ducks.
EUGENE, Ore. — In a season that has been full of disappointment for the Colorado men's basketball team, a solid victory against Oregon three weeks ago counts as a legitimate bright spot.
It's a safe beat the Ducks will be pumped for the rematch on Saturday, as the Buffaloes take on No. 7-ranked Oregon before a national television audience.
"We've got to go in and let it all hang out and not over-think it," CU head coach Tad Boyle said. "We've got to be ready to play with great energy and great passion and great toughness because Oregon is a very good team. They're going to be loaded for bear. It will be a great environment and we're going to have to play well.
"We have played well for the most part at Oregon. But we're going to have to really play well to give ourselves a chance on Saturday because they're going to be ready. I've got a lot of respect for that program."
With wins in six of their past seven games, including a victory Thursday night at Oregon State, but Buffs have at least put their fleeting NCAA Tournament hopes on life support.
However, even after the victory against OSU and a previous win against the Ducks, CU remains well out of the NCAA tourney picture with an RPI of 106 as of Friday. No team has ever reached the tournament with an at-large bid with an RPI beyond the mid-60s.
A win against Oregon in CU's final regular-season road game might be the only thing that can thrust the Buffs back on to the tournament bubble, assuming they also can win out down the stretch. CU completes the regular season with home dates against Utah, Stanford, and Cal, and the Buffs also would likely require at least two wins in the Pac-12 tournament.
"We're looking forward to Saturday. We just want to come out and compete like we've been doing," junior guard Dom Collier. "We need to let it all hang out on offense and defense. Just go and play basketball, really."
The win against Oregon was the second victory of CU's current run of six wins in seven games, and it was perhaps the Buffs' best defensive performance of the season. The Ducks own a .489 shooting percentage in Pac-12 play, but managed just a .386 mark in Boulder. That included a .296 showing in the second half as the Buffs gradually padded their lead.
Of course, the Buffs are facing the challenge of earning a win at Knight Arena, where the Ducks have won 41 consecutive games. Despite claims to the contrary earlier this week, the Buffs may have been caught looking ahead while struggling through the first half Thursday at Oregon State. CU will have to play much better throughout the full 40 minutes Saturday to have a chance at knocking off the Ducks.
"You look at a top-10 team coming up, and a winless team (Oregon State), it's hard not to look ahead," senior guard Derrick White said. "That's not the reason we started out slow. We didn't come out ready to go mentally. (Saturday) we have to compete. That's the first thing. If we don't come there to guard, they're going to run us out of the building. They've done that to many a Pac-12 team, so we've got to come in there and guard for 40 minutes."