The Colorado basketball team hoped to forge an identity, while at the same time getting a measure of themselves against national competition, during a four-game nonconference run that ends Saturday night.
Last week the beginning of that run didn't go according to plan. Yet with Wednesday night's pivotal victory against No. 13 Xavier at the Coors Events Center, the Buffs have reset the ledger. Of course last week's surprising loss at home to rival Colorado State will remain on CU's eventual NCAA Tournament resume. But continuing to pick up victories like the one against the Musketeers will serve to dim its impact.
CU will have a chance to finish this revealing stretch of nonconference games with a 3-1 mark on Saturday, as the Buffs face an always-challenging environment at Brigham Young (8 p.m. MST, ESPN2).
"We wanted to go 4-0 but at this point, yeah, we get a win at BYU, I'll take it," Boyle said. "It's not going to be easy. We're going to have to be mentally tough. We're going to have to fight that road crowd. BYU is a good team, a well-coached team. They like to play fast. We're not going to have an altitude advantage against BYU like we had (Wednesday) against Xavier.
"We're going to have to be dialed-in. We're going to need a great team effort Saturday night to beat the Cougars."
CU didn't exactly shake off the CSU disappointment with immediate urgency, trailing by two at halftime of this past Saturday's road date at Portland. But the Buffaloes dominated the second half, and after turning in a solid all-around effort against Xavier, the Buffs can safely say they finally are trending in the proper direction after last week's defeat against the Rams.
Building on that momentum with another solid road win at BYU would provide a huge boost heading into the holiday slowdown — after Saturday, the Buffs play just three games in 21 days, all within the state, leading up to their Pac-12 Conference opener at Utah on New Year's Day.
"When you're on the road, there's a small window of error," junior guard George King said. "We can't have a lot of mistakes, especially with a good team like BYU. It's going to be a hostile environment, which will be good for us."
After a strong start to the season, CU's bench players have struggled lately to make a meaningful impact.
The Buffs posted only four bench points against Xavier, with all of them coming on a 2-for-3 night from Bryce Peters. Fellow freshman Deleon Brown played only eight minutes yet continued his knack for making the little plays by contributing an assist and a blocked shot. However, recent shooting slides continued for sophomore Thomas Akyazili and freshman Lucas Siewert.
Akyazili has gone 0-for-8 the past two games and is 0-for-11 this season on 3-pointers. Siewert scored nine points in the season opener but has just nine total points in the eight games since, going 0-for-8 from the floor over the past four games.
Boyle admitted earlier this week the three freshmen have "hit a wall." CU's bench was a player short Wednesday with Tory Miller's injury absence, and given the walking boot covering his injured ankle and Boyle's obvious frustration at Miller's situation, his status for BYU may be questionable at best.
King, Xavier Johnson, and Derrick White accounted for 57 of CU's 68 points against Xavier...Saturday will be CU's first visit to BYU since 1955...King poured in 23 points behind a 4-for-6 mark on 3-pointers in last year's home win against BYU.