TEMPE, Ariz. — No doubt he would have preferred coming home with two wins instead of two losses, but Colorado freshman guard Lazar Nikolic showed signs of breaking out during the Buffaloes' trip through Arizona.
Though he was dogged by foul trouble that afflicted the entire CU team during Saturday night's 80-66 loss at Arizona State, Nikolic enjoyed a second consecutive solid game off the bench, going 2-for-4 from the floor and finishing with six points, four rebounds, two assists, and two blocked shots in 16 minutes.
Nikolic knocked down two 3-pointers in a game for the first time in his career after entering the game just 3-for-15 from beyond the arc this season. Nikolic had not hit a 3-pointer since Dec. 6 against New Mexico.
"Laz is terrific. He's such a nice asset to have," CU head coach Tad Boyle said. "Coming out of a timeout, we ran a ball-screen play and he made the exact right read that needed to be made and got Lucas (Siewert) a layup. But then, boom, he got his fourth foul. He battled foul trouble tonight."
Nikolic went 4-for-7 in the two games in Arizona with six rebounds.
Namon bounces back
Junior guard Namon Wright shook off two sub-par outings to score 10 points and grab six rebounds against the Sun Devils. Wright went 4-for-4 during the first half and helped the Buffs overcome an early eight-point deficit to pull into a 32-32 tie at halftime.
"I'm never happy when we lose, but maybe I should have been a little more aggressive to help my team out," said Wright, who finished 5-for-8 from the field. "I try not to be a selfish guy and usually when I play like this, seven shots to 10 shots...but maybe I should have been more aggressive. The second half, I don't think I was too aggressive. Maybe my team could have used that a little bit. We'll watch film and see."
In the two previous games, losses against Washington and Arizona, Wright scored a total of just four points with one rebound.
In the two losses in Arizona over the weekend, CU's opponents attempted 45 free throws against just 17 for the Buffs. According to crack research by CU stats guru Dave Plati, that is the lowest total of free throws for the Buffs during a two-game league road swing since joining the Pac-12 by a wide margin. The previous low was 27 in 2015, also against Arizona and ASU...Redshirt freshman Dallas Walton matched a season-high with eight rebounds. Walton also had a season-best four offensive rebounds...With 10 assists Saturday, CU freshman point guard McKinley Wright is now averaging 6.3 assists per game in Pac-12 play...Immediately after the game Boyle had not yet to heard about the devastating injury suffered by former CU star and Oklahoma City forward Andre Roberson (reportedly a torn patellar tendon) but said he would reach out to his former player soon.