Lucas Siewert's family doesn't get to see him play in person very often. Visiting Boulder this week for the first time, Siewert's brother and mother got to see him knock down what might be the Colorado Buffaloes' shot of the year.
Midway through the first half of what became a 93-68 CU win Thursday night against UCLA, Siewert spotted up deep in the left corner and hauled in a pass from point guard McKinley Wright that was high and outside. So outside, in fact, that Siewert found himself slowly fading out of bounds after snaring the pass.
With the shot clock winding down and no other option at hand, Siewert fired away from an unenviable angle that would have made Larry Bird proud. The ball splashed through the net, giving the Buffs a 10-point lead and giving Siewert's mother, Silvia, and brother Marcos something to brag about when they return to the family's native Brazil.
"I caught the ball, and right when I caught it I looked at my foot and it was right next to the base line," Siewert said. "There was only a couple seconds left so I had to get it up. I didn't have much of an angle, so I really had to aim it. It just went in."
Siewert's mother and brother made their first trip to Colorado at a time when redshirt freshman Evan Battey has supplanted Siewert as the Buffs' starter at the No. 5 spot. Siewert started the first 26 games of the season but has come off the bench for the past three games. With head coach Tad Boyle opting to give Battey a quick hook after his first foul to preserve his status for the second half, Siewert's overall minutes have dipped only slightly while coming off the bench.
The Buffs' junior forward will have one more opportunity to send his mom and brother home with some good stories as CU seeks a spot in the Pac-12 Conference's top four in a showdown against USC Saturday afternoon (3 p.m., Pac-12 Network).
"It's been great. They haven't watched me play in person for probably like seven years now," Siewert said. "Just having them in the stands has been pretty special."
On several occasions during the ESPN broadcast of Thursday night's win against UCLA, basketball Hall of Famer and general life guru Bill Walton compared CU guard Shane Gatling to Oklahoma City Thunder standout Russell Westbrook.
Westbrook just happens to be the favorite player of Gatling, who lit up the Bruins for the second time this season, this time to the tune of 26 points, three assists, and three steals without a turnover.
"I heard about it. I didn't hear (Walton) for myself, but everyone kept telling me about it," Gatling said. "Russell Westbrook, he's my favorite player. It means a lot to me to be compared to him. I know I'm not as good as him yet. But I will be someday."
Saturday will be Senior Day for the Buffs' lone senior, guard Namon Wright. Wright played in only 14 games this season due to a season-ending foot injury, and his two-year career at CU after transferring from Missouri ended after just 44 games. The Los Angeles native ended his Buffs career averaging 8.8 points and 3.1 rebounds...CU has posted just three single-digit turnover totals this season, but two of them have occurred in the past two games with nine apiece in wins against Utah and UCLA. The Buffs recorded a season-low eight turnovers in a home win against Colorado State Dec. 1...CU has wallowed at the bottom of the Pac-12 in 3-point percentage for much of the league slate, but the Buffs inched up to 11th (.314) after going 12-for-36 (.333) in the past two games...On Friday, senior guard Stephen Thompson Jr. from Oregon State was named the Pac-12's men's basketball Scholar-Athlete of the Year. Thompson already has earned his bachelor's degree in digital communication and compiled a 3.57 grade-point average. He is the first OSU player to win the award.