For his part, Xavier Johnson stepped up in front of his teammates and apologized for letting them down.
The Colorado men's basketball team got back to work on Tuesday after another disappointing road trip that left the Buffaloes with a 3-8 mark in Pac-12 Conference play with just seven regular season games remaining.
This time the frustration was less about the 1-1 result on the trip — the loss at Cal Sunday would have been challenging regardless — than the circumstances, as fifth-year seniors Xavier Johnson and Wesley Gordon were suspended for a violation of undisclosed team rules.
Head coach Tad Boyle indicated after Sunday's game the punishment might not end with just one game. On Tuesday Boyle declined comment on the duo's status for Thursday's home game against Washington, saying only it remains a "day to day" situation.
While Gordon declined comment, Johnson offered regrets for his actions that put him out on the sideline in a critical road game for the second time this season. Johnson also was ejected late in the first half, after going 6-for-7 from the field at that point, at Arizona State on Jan. 5 after getting into an altercation with Sun Devils freshman reserve Jethro Tshisumpa.
"It was tough. It was tough to sit there," Johnson said. "You feel kind of helpless not being able to help the team off of just simple mistakes that I made. It was tough, because I know that definitely was a winnable game for us. It hurt.
"You just apologize and move on. You take your lickings and you come to work every day and keep moving forward. I apologized to my team for my stupid mistakes. I've just got to just learn and move on."
Even with a huge 24-point, six-rebound game from Johnson, in addition to 11 points and six rebounds Gordon, the Buffs suffered a two-point loss in overtime at Washington three weeks ago.
With their status still up in the air for Thursday's rematch, the Buffs may be forced to once again go with a significantly altered starting lineup and rotation. Tory Miller and freshman Lucas Siewert took over starting roles at Cal, with Josh Fortune joining the starting five at the beginning of the second half. Siewert's foul trouble forced Boyle to rely on unfavorable matchups, such as George King guarding Cal forward Ivan Rabb down low.
King certainly acquitted himself well, but sticking a 6-foot-6 guard against a 6-foot-11 interior force expected to be playing in the NBA sooner than later never is an ideal matchup. Washington isn't as daunting inside as Cal, meaning another absence from Johnson and Gordon may not be quite as debilitating, but the Huskies still knocked off the Buffs last month with those two CU players making solid contributions.
"You can't really force things, because that's when you make mistakes," senior guard Derrick White said. "You just want to play your game. Everybody is going to have to step up a bit if those guys are out, but you don't want to do stuff that is outside of your game. I just try to focus on doing what I can do."