AIR FORCE ACADEMY — One of the more compelling offseason stories for the Colorado men's basketball team was the debate whether forward Lucas Siewert could build on the solid finish to his sophomore campaign he put together last spring.
So far, Siewert is emphatically calming any concerns.
The junior forward put together his third double-digit scoring effort in four games during the Buffaloes' rout of Air Force Saturday afternoon at the Academy, matching his career-highs in points (17) and rebounds (eight).
Siewert also finished 3-for-3 on 3-pointers and 6-for-6 overall.
"We set a goal at the beginning of the season to get six or seven road wins. That's the first one," Siewert said. "I've been working on my shot a lot, every day with coach (Kim) English. When I go in the game I just try to do what I do in practice, and that's shoot with confidence. Sometimes it just goes in."
Siewert averaged 6.8 points last year as a sophomore, but in an impressive late surge he averaged 11.6 points over the final 11 games. His perfect shooting effort Saturday lifted Siewert's four-game total to .655 from the floor (19-for-29) and .714 on 3-pointers (10-for-14). He also is averaging 4.8 rebounds after averaging 2.5 in 62 games through is first two seasons.
"I just try to get a great shot every time, whether I'm on the post or the perimeter," Siewert said. "I just try to get the best shot I can because that's when the percentage goes up."
While Air Force was unable to take advantage of CU's miscues, the Buffs nonetheless endured another tough game on the turnover front. CU committed 10 in the first half and 16 for the game, increasing their average through the first four games of the season to 14.5 per game.
CU has stated its goal this year is to finish with 11 or fewer per game, but a Buffs club that generally has struggled with turnovers during coach Tad Boyle's tenure has yet to hit that target through four games.
Air Force scored only seven points off the Buffs' giveaways. Siewert, McKinley Wright, and Deleon Brown were charged with four turnovers apiece against the Falcons.
"It's a major concern," Boyle said. "Against different opponents, it's going to hurt us. It hurt us against San Diego, but it didn't hurt us tonight because we were able to shoot the ball better from three than we did the other night and score the ball. But we have to take care of the ball better. It's something we have to get better at."
Saturday's contest completed the two-for-two scheduling arrangement between the Buffs and AFA that began before the 2015-16 season, with each team hosting two games apiece. With the Pac-12 Conference expected to move from an 18-game league schedule to 20 games in the near future, and with Boyle having previously expressed frustration at scheduling quality nonconference foes, it remains up in the air if the state rivals will collide again in the near future.
"A lot of it depends on the other games we can or can't get," Boyle said. "The one nice thing about Air Force, if you are going to go on the road you don't have to get on an airplane. We have basically five schools where we have the option of doing that. We'll see. I'm not saying the series is over.
"You want to play quality teams home and away. That's probably going to play more into it probably more than proximity."
The Buffs will complete a home-and-home set at Colorado State next year but do not currently have any other state rivals lined up for next season.
CU's Evan Battey went 4-for-5 with nine points, and he is 11-for-18 in the past two games...CU's 37-point margin of victory was the largest in the series since Air Force posted an 84-46 win in Boulder on Nov. 18, 2006...CU lowered its defensive field goal percentage to .299 (29-for-97)...Freshman Daylen Kountz has nine assists against just two turnovers through four games.