At times the three-game homestand wasn't pretty.

Still, 3-0 is 3-0, and taking care of business at home for three consecutive games is more than aesthetically-pleasing enough for the Colorado men's basketball team.

With just five regular-season games remaining the Buffaloes no longer have the leverage of home-court advantage to lean on with three of those five contests on the road. Yet the 3-0 run at home has the Buffs eyeing at least a top-half finish in the Pac-12 Conference. And, with an unlikely but hardly impossible surge down the stretch, the Buffs still could land in the top four and earn a first-round bye in the league tournament.

The Buffs resume league play Thursday night at Washington State.

"If we want to continue to climb the ladder — which is something I think I want to do, I think our assistant coaches want to do, I think our players want to do it — now we have to go compete on the road the way we competed at home," CU head coach Tad Boyle said. "It's the same game. Same group of officials we're going to have. Same basket height. Just different venues. We've got to play with great toughness and energy and effort in Pullman on Thursday and Seattle on Saturday like we've been playing in two of the last three games."

Improbably, only one game separates the league's No. 2 spot from the No. 9 spot, with the Buffs tied for sixth alongside Arizona State, Utah, and Stanford with 7-6 Pac-12 records. While CU split with Arizona State, the Buffs currently hold the tiebreakers against Utah and Stanford, with the regular-season finale at Utah still to come.


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Though the Buffs play three of their final five away from home, and likely will be favored in just one of those five, going 3-2 over the final three weekends would secure an NIT bid at the very least and give CU a reasonable measure of momentum going into the Pac-12 tournament. In order to do so the Buffs must win Thursday night at last-place Washington State and earn at least a split during next week's final homestand against USC and UCLA.

If CU achieves that much, they could reach that 3-2 finish by stealing a win in one of the other three remaining games — at Washington on Saturday, at home against the other Los Angeles school, or at Utah in the regular-season finale on March 3.

The Buffs are just 1-7 in true road games this season.

"It's been a huge run for us at home getting these quality wins to help build our resume up," freshman point guard McKinley Wright said. "We know what our end goal is. We want to play in the tournament. Going on the road, these are two must-wins, two huge games for us, that we're very confident going in to."

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