Evan Battey has been getting better and better for the Colorado men's basketball team. Yet the redshirt freshman also has displayed a frustrating penchant for foul trouble.
In last week's loss at Washington, Battey received his first start since the season opener but went back to the bench just 3 minutes, 16 seconds into the game after quickly picking up his second foul. Battey received another start in Saturday's win against Utah, and head coach Tad Boyle and his coaching staff took a different approach to make certain the 6-foot-8 forward remained a factor throughout the full 40 minutes.
When Battey picked up his first foul just 95 seconds into the game, he got a quick hook and a seat on the bench. Yet the ploy worked. Battey played nearly 28 minutes and didn't commit another foul, eventually finishing with 15 points and four rebounds while playing a key role in CU's 71-63 win.
Afterward, Boyle said he and associate head coach Mike Rohn plotted the alternate approach with Battey.
"That was almost pre-determined," Boyle said. "Coach Rohn and I talked about it before the game. If he gets one quick...he got one at Washington and then he got his second one, and then I've got a decision to make. Trying to keep our bigs out of foul trouble is key.
"The officials let us play tonight. It was a physical game and Evan welcomes that. He's a physical player. But I thought he did a good job of taking his time. You can just see him coming each and every game. He's an important piece for us."
In CU's loss at Utah on Jan. 20, Utes freshman Timmy Allen was a one-player Buffs killer, finishing with 21 points 10 rebounds, four assists, and three steals.
Allen missed Utah's two games in Washington last week due to a back issue but returned to the Utes' starting lineup Saturday. However, this time CU limited his effectiveness, with Allen finishing with 11 points and three rebounds alongside a season-high-tying four turnovers.
"He's still probably a little out of rhythm with being out of action," Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak said. "But we will have a solid week, we don't have an overly deep team, so we need everybody's involvement. I think he brings a level of physicality certainly on the defensive end."
It wasn't the best offensive showing for CU point guard McKinley Wright, though his late 3-pointer that gave CU a 10-point lead with 48 seconds remaining was clutch. Wright went 3-for-10 overall with 10 points, three assists, and two rebounds, totals that all were below his season averages.
Yet Boyle was quick to commend Wright's defense on Utah senior guard Sedrick Barefield, who went 7-for-16 overall but just 2-for-8 on 3-pointers.
"His defense, I can't say enough how good Sedrick Barefield is offensively," Boyle said. "The challenge (Wright) took tonight, the job he did on him, I thought was phenomenal. One of the big differences in the game. Barefield can score on a lot of people, but he struggled with McKinley tonight. He still scored 19 points, but he had to take 16 shots to do it. And a lot of them weren't on McKinley. They were on other guys that were switched on to him, or when McKinley was getting a rest."
Jakob Dombek, the 6-foot-11 freshman from the Czech Republic who is going through a redshirt season, was absent from CU's bench Saturday due to an illness...CU's Tyler Bey has posted five straight double-digit rebounding totals. During his current run of six double-doubles in eight games, Bey has shot .623 (48-for-77) from the field...Wright shot just 3-for-10 overall, but he went 2-for-4 on 3-pointers and improved his 3-point percentage in Pac-12 play to .372 (16-for-43).