Jeremy Papasso / Staff Photographer
CU men’s basketball preview: Stanford
MATCHUP: Stanford Cardinal (11-7, 4-3 Pac-12 Conference) at Colorado Buffaloes (15-5, 4-3).
GAME TIME: Wednesday, 7 p.m., Coors Events Center.
BROADCAST: Radio — 760 AM; TV — Pac-12 Networks.
COACHES: Stanford — Johnny Dawkins, eighth season (152-107 at Stanford and overall); Colorado — Tad Boyle, sixth season (123-73, 179-139 overall).
Stanford — Scoring: F Rosco Allen, Sr., 14.5 ppg; Rebounding: F Michael Humphrey, So., 6.8 rpg; Assists: G Christian Sanders, Sr., 2.8 apg. Colorado — Scoring: F Josh Scott, Sr., 17.5 ppg; Rebounding: Scott, 9.8 rpg; Assists: G Dom Collier, So., 3.3 apg.
NOTABLE: Good news for CU? Stanford has alternated wins with losses throughout its league slate and is coming off a win against Arizona State … The Buffs have won five consecutive games against the Cardinal, including a 56-55 win at Stanford on Jan. 3 … Scott paced the Buffs that night with 14 points and 14 rebounds … Scott needs 12 rebounds to become the ninth CU player to collect 900 in his career … CU junior Tre’Shaun Fletcher has made 15-of-16 free throws in the Buffs’ seven Pac-12 games.
As long as Josh Fortune is taking good shots, Colorado Buffaloes head coach Tad Boyle can live with the occasional shooting slump from the junior sharpshooter.
Boyle actually would prefer that Fortune continue the apparent turnaround he put together in regard to turnovers in CU’s most recent game rather than fret over Fortune’s 3-point shooting.
Overall, the beginning of Pac-12 Conference play has not been kind to Fortune, who hopes to keep turning his recent run of inconsistency toward better production when the Buffs host Stanford on Wednesday night in a key conference showdown.
“Turnover-wise, it’s just about making simple plays and being on balance. Not trying to go too fast,” Boyle said. “Shooting, it’s just taking great shots. He’s been shooting the heck out of it at practice, at shoot-arounds. (Tuesday) it seemed like he made every shot.
“I know he’s shooting the ball well in practice. Hopefully, that will translate in games because we know he’s capable. It’s not like he hasn’t proven it before.”
After sitting out last year as a transfer from Providence, Fortune delivered as advertised during CU’s 13-game nonconference slate, knocking down 3-pointers at a .425 clip (51-for-120). Fortune averaged just two turnovers per game during that 13-game stretch while having just four games with more than two turnovers.
It has been a different story through seven league games, during which Fortune’s 3-point percentage has dipped to .348 (8-for-23) while averaging 2.7 turnovers. One notable exception to that slide from 3-point range was a 3-for-5 night during the Buffs’ win at Stanford on Jan. 3, but Fortune also committed a season-high six turnovers that night.
Fortune committed only two turnovers during last week’s two-game trip at Washington, registering zero for just the third time this season Saturday at Washington State, but he has shot just 2-for-10 from 3-point range and 8-for-21 overall in the past three games.
“Coach preaches taking open shots instead of taking contested shots. It’s just a matter of taking the right shot,” Fortune said. “I’m taking the right shots. We’re keeping the moving a lot on offense, which leaves open shots. (Stanford) plays good defense and has good players, but you have to make shots so you can open up other things.”
CU defeated the Cardinal in that game on Jan. 3 after putting the clamps on Stanford leading scorer Rosco Allen, who tallied just seven points while going 2-for-10 from the floor.
A 14.5 points-per-game scorer overall, Allen has bounced back from that performance against CU to average 16.8 points over the past five games with three 20-plus performances. However, Arizona once again showed Allen can be shut down last week, holding him to a 1-for-12 mark in a Stanford loss.
“Rosco Allen did not have his best game against us and we snuck out a win by one,” Boyle said. “We know he’s a good player, and Marcus Allen is a really good player. I think (Marcus) Sheffield is really coming into his own as a player in this league.
“They’re good. They’re better than they were when we played them. They’re 4-3 and we’re 4-3, so there’s not much difference.”