CU men's basketball preview: Stanford

GAME TIME: Sunday, 2 p.m., Coors Events Center.

MATCHUP: Stanford Cardinal (13-12, 7-5 Pac-12 Conference) at Colorado Buffaloes (14-10, 6-6).

BROADCAST: TV — Pac-12 Network; Radio — 850 AM.

COACHES: Stanford — Jerod Hasse, 2nd season (27-29, 107-81 overall); Colorado — Tad Boyle, 8th season (163-105, 219-171 overall).

LEADERS: Stanford — Scoring: F Reid Travis, Jr., 19.4 ppg; Rebounding: Travis, 7.8 rpg; Assists: G Daejon Davis, Fr., 4.9 apg. Colorado — Scoring: G McKinley Wright, Fr., 14.7 ppg; Rebounding: G/F George King, Sr., 8.2 rpg; Assist: Wright, 5.3 apg.

NOTES: The Buffs have not lost to Stanford since their first season in the Pac-12, winning the past eight matchups in a row...Junior guard Namon Wright, CU's third-leading scorer, is expected to return after missing the past two games due to an illness...The Cardinal has lost its past three road games...King has moved into 20th-place all time at CU with 626 career rebounds. He needs just three more to take sole possession of 19th...Sophomore forward Lucas Siewert scored a career-high 15 points in last year's home win against Stanford...7-footer Dallas Walton has recorded 18 of his 25 blocked shots this season during Pac-12 play...into CU hits the road this upcoming week for games at Washington State (Thursday) and Washington (Saturday).


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Here is a quick rundown of what has transpired in the Pac-12 Conference over the past nine days.

First, the Colorado men's basketball team ended a three-game losing streak by defeating Utah at home on Feb. 2, leading throughout the second half of a game that also saw the Buffaloes end a seven-game losing streak against the Utes.

Utah clearly recovered by Thursday night in a rout of Stanford, which visits the Coors Events Center Sunday for its only matchup of the regular season against CU. Stanford was coming off a 35-point dismantling of Oregon that was the worst defeat in coach Dana Altman's eight seasons leading the Ducks. Oregon, of course, turned around and routed Washington on Thursday, less than a week after the Huskies' dramatic buzzer-beating win against league front-runner and nationally-ranked Arizona.

Got all that?

In short, the middle-of-the-pack in the Pac-12 Conference is a cluttered logjam, with Stanford and the Buffs among five teams sporting league records between 7-5 and 6-6 heading into Saturday night's Pac-12 action. With only three regular-season home games remaining, Sunday's battle presents a chance for the Buffs to pick up what eventually could be a critical tie-breaking result against the Cardinal once the league tournament arrives in Las Vegas.

"It's a wide-open deal," CU head coach Tad Boyle said. "We're right in the middle of the pack here. If we want to separate ourselves, it's time to do it. This is a huge game from that standpoint.

"I look at Utah when they came in here, they didn't play their A-game. They were a totally different team (against Stanford). Stanford has been playing as well as anyone in the league, and against Utah they weren't at their best. Cal came in here and we weren't at our best. That's why every game is an opportunity to separate ourselves from the pack. And the only way you separate yourself is by winning."

Tops among CU's priorities will be slowing down Stanford forward Reid Travis. One of just two players in the league who ranks in the top five in both scoring and rebounding (along with Arizona's Deandre Ayton), Travis brings averages of 19.4 points and 7.8 rebounds to the Coors Events Center. The Buffs have done a commendable job against Travis in the past — in three games against CU he has gone just 10-for-22 while averaging 11.5 points and 5.3 rebounds — but the junior has taken his game to another level this season.

Travis has recorded eight double-doubles this season and was one of the Cardinal's few bright spots in its loss Thursday night at Utah with 16 points and 10 rebounds.

"If we win this we'll be 7-6 and if Stanford loses, they'll be 7-6. So we'll have the tiebreaker too if it comes to that for Vegas," CU senior guard Dom Collier said. "And it's obviously a big game because we'll be on the road. If we win (Sunday) it will be good momentum going into Washington and those schools. Everyone is aware of how big this game is due to where we want to be in Vegas."

Pat Rooney: rooneyp@dailycamera.com or twitter.com/prooney07