CU men's basketball preview: USC

MATCHUP: USC Trojans (19-9, 10-5 Pac-12 Conference) at Colorado Buffaloes (15-12, 7-8).

GAME TIME: Wednesday, 8:46 p.m., Coors Events Center.

BROADCAST: TV — FOX Sports 1; Radio — 850 AM.

COACHES: USC — Andy Enfield, 5th season (89-73, 130-101 overall); Colorado — Tad Boyle, 8th season (164-107, 220-173 overall).

LEADERS: USC — Scoring: F Chimezie Metu, Jr., 15.8 ppg; Rebounding: Metu, 7.4 rpg; Assists: G Jordan McLaughlin, Sr., 7.7 apg. Colorado — Scoring: G McKinley Wright, Fr., 14.4 ppg; Rebounding: G/F George King, Sr., 8.2 rpg; Assists: Wright, 5.3 apg.

NOTES: After winning the first seven games against USC after joining the Pac-12, the Buffs have lost their past three against the Trojans...The Buffs hope to get freshman guard Lazar Nikolic back in the rotation after he missed the loss at Washington with a left hand injury...King was one of the bright spots for CU in last month's loss at USC, as he posted one of his six double-doubles on the season with 21 points and 10 rebounds. Metu recorded 14 points with 13 rebounds for the Trojans...USC senior guard Elijah Stewart needs to make one 3-pointer to match the school record of 232...CU is looking to avoid its third three-game losing streak of the season...FS1 has pushed the tipoff time from 8:30 p.


m. to 8:46 p.m....The Buffs play their final home game of the season against UCLA on Sunday (2 p.m., ESPNU).

It is a vision Colorado basketball fans surely would love to see become reality.

Imagine Buffaloes guard McKinley Wright dribbling out the clock as CU gets set to celebrate what would be a critical victory against the USC Trojans Wednesday night. The faithful at the Coors Events Center surely would be clamoring for a stick-it-in-your-face timeout, much like the one USC coach Andy Enfield took with 21 seconds left in the Trojans' 12-point win at home more than a month ago, when he clapped it up with his players and called for a set play for leading scorer Chimezie Metu with the outcome already decided.

It would be tempting payback for Wright and the Buffaloes, who haven't forgotten Enfield's low-road response to CU coach Tad Boyle's public confession in early January of taking extra pleasure in defeating Arizona which, like USC, had an assistant coach arrested in September in the FBI's ongoing college basketball corruption probe.

Yet according to Wright and Boyle, that payback-timeout scenario won't happen. If the Buffs are in position to get back in the win column at the Coors Events Center Wednesday night, that alone will be satisfactory revenge after an ugly two-loss trip through Washington.

"I'm not that type a player, but if coach says to, then I will. I didn't grow up that kind of player," said Wright, echoing the sentiment offered by his coach. "But it ticked us off, knowing those guys had the win and they wanted to draw up some type of alley-oop or some type of dunk for Metu. We didn't forget it. We're looking forward to the game. We know we're not going to play as bad as that again. We owe those guys one."

While payback would be sweet for the Buffs, it won't happen unless they once again can find a way to shake off another recent downturn with a turnover issue that has been a season-long affliction.

Last month's loss at USC presented a new low in that season-long problem as 22 CU turnovers led to 28 points for the Trojans, an effort that left the Buffs with an average of 15.4 turnovers per game. Over the next six games, beginning with an upset win at UCLA three nights later, CU seemingly was able to turn a corner, averaging only 11.2 turnovers per game during that stretch. Yet the Buffs have reverted to their previous ways over the past four contests, culminating in the two-loss trip through Washington last weekend in which 33 CU turnovers led to a total of 44 extra points for Washington State and Washington.

"This team is resilient," Boyle said. "One of the good things about being young is these guys bounce back and they've got short memories. That sometimes can serve them well. We've tried to relay to them and show them on film over the last two days the things that we do or don't do that have caused us heartache this year. The Washington trip is a great example of that. But we've also them things on film when we've really been playing at a high level. When good things happen. And part of it was our trip to L.A. I know we split...but we did some really good things on that trip."

Despite saying "It's a timeout I won't forget, and our players won't forget," just minutes after Enfield's gratuitous timeout in Los Angeles, Boyle has downplayed the perceived tension between the coaches this week. Rest assured, though, for the Buffs the memory still burns.

"We think about it," senior George King said. "We think about it."

Pat Rooney: or