It was the sort of collision that easily can end a season. And that was Tyler Bey's initial fear Tuesday night.
While battling for rebounding position in the paint, Bey's left leg was rolled from behind by a Dayton player during the second half of the Colorado Buffaloes' 78-73 win against the Flyers in the first round of the NIT.
Bey immediately crumpled to the floor, uncertain if he needed to grasp his knee or his ankle. It turned out the pain was emanating from both, though as it turned out neither his knee nor his ankle was injury seriously. Bey, voted the Most Improved Player in the Pac-12 Conference this season and a first-team all-league selection, is expected to assume his normal spot in the Buffs' starting lineup when they host eighth-seeded Norfolk State Monday night in the second round.
"It was more of a scare. I was more scared of being hurt, like tearing my ACL or something," Bey said. "I want to play. It's been good. It's been getting better every day. I'm just doing treatment every day. The day after, my knee was really hurting. I went to get an MRI and it checked out. Everything is good.
"My ankle was hurting me that night, but it got better overnight. My knee was hurting in the morning. I'm good. I'll practice (Friday)."
The Buffs' hopes for a deep run through the NIT looked as if they had been dealt a critical setback when Bey limped off the CU Events Center floor with 12 minutes, 10 seconds remaining against Dayton. Bey re-entered the game at the 5:23 mark but clearly was less than 100 percent down the stretch.
Obviously, a healthy Bey is a requisite if the Buffs hope to win the two more games necessary to book a trip to New York for the NIT Final Four at Madison Square Garden. By the time Bey was injured against Dayton he had already posted his 16th double-double of the season and his 10th during an 11-3 run the Buffs will take into Monday's contest, finishing with 14 points and 12 rebounds against the Flyers.
After playing four games in seven days from the start of the Pac-12 tournament last week, the five off-days between games will only benefit Bey. The Buffs were off Wednesday and went through a light workout Thursday with an eye toward returning to full practice mode on Friday.
"He's getting better," CU head coach Tad Boyle said. "(Thursday) we were doing a lot of shooting and lifting and individual improvement. We've got a couple guys kind of sick and under the weather, and Tyler got injured the other night. But I think he'll be ready to go. Fortunately we have a few days here to prepare and get ready."
Boyle was less confident the layoff would aid the potential return of freshman guard Eli Parquet, who has missed the past seven games due to a left knee injury. Parquet appeared to make strides last week in Las Vegas, going through warm-ups and dressing for the Buffs' semifinal loss against Washington. But following Tuesday's win against Dayton, Boyle said Parquet experienced soreness after his first full practice on Monday. Parquet did not dress against Dayton.
"(Friday) is the first chance we'll have to get up-and-down and go game-speed, so to speak," Boyle said. "I don't know if he'll be able to do that tomorrow or not. He's day-to-day."