Spencer Dinwiddie won't give an inch.
In fact, the sophomore point guard still gets two.
After Colorado's first practice for Friday's NCAA Tournament game against Illinois in the East Region at Austin, Texas, Dinwiddie was asked about facing tall and talented Illini guard Brandon Paul.
"They say he's 6-4, so he's still smaller than me. I still have the advantage in that aspect," Dinwiddie, 6-6, noted. "If he's 6-4, I doubt he's as long as me. So I'll still be a bigger opponent."
Paul is averaging 16.6 points, 4.4 rebounds, 2.8 assists and 1.2 steals. The senior shot only 40.5 percent from the field (33.2 percent behind the arc) while leading the Illini (22-12 overall, 8-10 Big Ten) in scoring and back into the Big Dance.
During Illinois' impressive 85-74 victory at Gonzaga, Paul finished with 35 points while conducting a personal shooting clinic (10-for-16 from the field, 10-for-11 from the free throw line).
Last week at the Big Ten Tournament, Paul hit the game-winning shot in a 51-49 win over Minnesota and was 2-for-13 shooting during an 80-64 loss to Indiana.
"(Paul) is a big guard who can put it on the floor, shoot the three, comes off ball screens, a very explosive type player," CU head coach Tad Boyle said. "He reminds me of Spencer probably more than anybody we've played against."
Illinois was third in the country in 3-point attempts (815) and tied for 242nd in 3-point field goal percentage (.325). CU was fifth in the Pac-12 in defending the arc (.347).
"We always talk defensively about not giving up layups and that's going to be critically important," Boyle said. "In addition to that we have to guard them at the three-point line because they're very capable. And if they get hot they remind me a lot of UNLV."
The Buffs held the Rebels to 25 percent (9-for-36) on 3-pointers during their 68-64 victory in last year's NCAA Tournament.
Boyle was pleased that five Pac-12 teams made the NCAA Tournament field. Some of the other coaches from the conference have complained about regular-season champion UCLA being a No. 6 seed and conference tournament champion Oregon assigned a No. 12 seed.
"I think in the seedings we've still got room for growth and improvement," Boyle said. "It's one step at a time. Having five teams in is big."
No. 10 CU and No. 7 Illinois were both rewarded for notable non-conference work.
The Buffs won the Charleston Classic, soundly defeated Colorado State and lost at Kansas. In addition to the win over current No. 1 Gonzaga, the Illini won the Maui Invitational.
"I think that's what got us in is our non-conference schedule," Boyle said. "We were 10-8 in our league, which is not overly impressive, but our strength of schedule and going on the road meant something. Oregon had a lot of home games. Maybe that worked against them. It's the only thing I can surmise, I don't know."
Anyone but Arizona
CU is coming off a 79-69 loss to Arizona at the Pac-12 Tournament in Las Vegas. It was the third intense meeting between two teams that can basically call out the other's plays at this point.
Facing their first Big Ten opponent of the season, or any opponent on a neutral court for that matter, is something the Buffs are excited about.
"It's kind of annoying playing teams three times in a year because they know exactly what you're going to do, you know exactly what they're going to do," Sabatino Chen said. "It comes down to making plays or loose balls or calls."
Or video replays.
Boyle said Ben Mills, who performed well during spot duty against the Wildcats, might have to be ready for the spotlight of the NCAA Tournament.
Shane Harris-Tunks, who suffered a concussion against Arizona, still has some medical "hurdles" to jump through with the doctors before Friday's game.
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