Namon Wright literally was everywhere Friday night at the Coors Events Center except where it mattered most — on the court.
It was Wright's turn to take center stage on the posters handed out to fans at each home game, but this week has also been Wright's turn to battle the flu bug that has dogged the team the past few months. Wright became the third CU player to miss a game due to an illness this season, though the Buffs were able to overcome his absence in a 67-55 win against Utah.
Wright said after last week's game at Arizona State that he had been feeling under the weather lately but had not missed time this season until Friday night. Wright will have two additional off-days to attempt to recover before the Buffs resume practice on Monday ahead of a Wednesday night home date against Cal.
"He's not feeling well and wasn't even in the building tonight," CU coach Tad Boyle said. "Hopefully we can get him back to feeling better and in uniform. I think everybody goes through it a little bit. McKinley (Wright) before the game wasn't feeling his best tonight. He's got sinus stuff. That's another reason for taking two days off — to get these guys rested."
Earlier this year reserve forward Alex Strating missed two games due to an illness, including the trip to nationally-ranked Xavier. Sophomore guard Deleon Brown also was sidelined due to an illness for CU's previous home game, a loss on Jan. 20 against Washington.
A week ago, sophomore forward Lucas Siewert owned exactly four double-digit scoring efforts in 51 games with the Buffs.
Siewert has now scored at least 10 points in consecutive games for the first time in his career after coming off the bench to score 13 in Friday's win against the Utes.
"Just playing more aggressive," Siewert said. "I wanted to make a change, and that was the change I was going to make."
Siewert went 4-for-5 and finished with 10 points last weekend at Arizona State and, despite finishing 3-for-10 Friday after a few late misses, he knocked down consecutive 3-pointers early in the second half against Utah that gave the Buffs a 13-point lead.
The 6-foot-10 Siewert also is showing a slight resurgence on the boards. After grabbing four rebounds in an overtime win against South Dakota State on Dec. 15, Siewert grabbed more than one rebound just once over the next 10 games. Siewert recorded two rebounds at ASU and had three more against the Utes while also going 6-for-6 at the free throw line over the two games.
Storm fines averted
The Pac-12 opted not to fine CU for the court-storming incidents following the Buffs' win against then-No. 4 Arizona State on Jan. 4 and then-No. 14 Arizona two nights later. CU possibly could have been hit with a $75,000 fine — $25,000 for the first offense and $50,000 for the second — but the league decided CU had taken the proper steps in attempting to curtail the fan rush while also getting the opposing teams off the Coors Events Center floor safely.
"There's a protocol that we have and they wanted to make sure we kept the teams safe," CU athletic director Rick George said. "I think that was our first priority. We executed our plan in both games."
CU senior guard Dom Collier matched a season-high with three steals against Utah. With four assists against the Utes, Collier increased his career total to 209 and passed both James Wright and Jacques Tuz for 24th-place on the Buffs' all-time assists list...Senior George King became the 22nd CU player to surpass the 1,200-point mark in his career (1,206). King also needs just one more rebound to move into CU's all-time top 20...Walk-on AJ Martinka logged his first playing time for the Buffs, entering alongside fellow walk-on Josh Repine and little-used reserve Alex Strating with 1:01 remaining...Freshman Lazar Nikolic made his fourth start of the season in place of Namon Wright. It was Nikolic's first start since Dec. 12 against San Diego.