CU men’s basketball preview: Oregon State
MATCHUP: Colorado Buffaloes (17-6, 6-4 Pac-12 Conference) at Oregon State Beavers (13-8, 4-6).
GAME TIME: Saturday, 6:30 p.m. MST, Gill Coliseum.
BROADCAST: Radio — 850 AM; TV — Pac-12 Networks.
COACHES: Colorado — Tad Boyle, sixth season (125-74, 181-140 overall). Oregon State — Wayne Tinkle, second season (30-22, 188-113 overall).
LEADERS: Colorado — Scoring: F/C Josh Scott, Sr., 17.3 ppg; Rebounding: Scott, 9.4 rpg; Assists: G Dom Collier, So., 3.2 apg. Oregon State — Scoring: G Gary Payton II, Sr., 16.5 ppg; Rebounding: Payton II, 8.0 rpg; Assists: Payton II, 5.5 apg.
NOTABLE: Reserve guard Thomas Akyazili missed Thursday’s Oregon game and remains questionable due to a leg injury. … CU has won five of seven games against the Beavers over the past three seasons, including a 71-54 home win on Jan. 13. … Scott enjoyed a monster game that night against OSU, recording 25 points, 12 rebounds and three blocked shots. … This game will be Boyle’s 200th as CU’s head coach. … Oregon State is coming off a thrilling 71-69 win against Utah in which Stephen Thompson Jr. sank three free throws with 0.1 seconds left after getting fouled on a desperation shot from near half-court.
EUGENE, Ore. — A word of warning to those who maintain the facilities at Gill Coliseum, home of the Oregon State Beavers.
Josh Scott and his Colorado Buffaloes teammates are seething mad. And if a little property damage occurs in their quest to set things right, so be it.
The Buffs have little time to shake off their most disappointing effort in Pac-12 Conference play, entering Saturday’s match at Oregon State on the heels of a 20-point loss in a discouraging performance Thursday at No. 16 Oregon.
In addition to getting more consistent efforts from a number of regulars, bringing an intensity and focus to the floor that has been lacking in recent games will be imperative for the Buffs to avoid coming home empty-handed.
“Tear the nails out of the floor and play like we should have played (Thursday),” Scott said of CU’s goal at OSU. “That’s the bottom line. We can’t drop two in a row.”
CU’s bid for a road split — never mind an NCAA tournament berth going forward — would be bolstered immensely by a return to form by two of the Buffs’ regulars, Josh Fortune and Wesley Gordon.
Fortune remains CU’s third-leading scorer at 10.4 points per game, but he has registered just one double-digit scoring effort over the past six contests. His scoring average is 8.5 in 10 conference games and, perhaps more importantly, Fortune is trending the wrong direction in terms of turnovers. After suffering just four games with at least three turnovers in 13 nonconference games, Fortune has had five such performances in 10 league games — including five Thursday at Oregon.
Gordon said earlier this week the thumb he injured in CU’s previous contest against Oregon on Jan. 17 is not at the root of his recent slide, yet his dip in production can be traced back to that game.
While Gordon has always been an inconsistent scorer, for much of the season he was a force on the glass. Before that first Oregon game, Gordon was averaging 7.5 rebounds per game and was riding a streak of four consecutive games with at least nine rebounds.
Since injuring his thumb, Gordon has averaged just 5.2 rebounds in five games. Gordon has made only 3-of-12 shots over the past three games, and his field goal percentage has dipped to .382 after leading the Buffs with a .550 mark last year.
“Wes needs to rebound and he needs to defend and he needs to be aggressive offensively,” head coach Tad Boyle said. “That doesn’t mean shoot it. He had some nice high-low passes to Josh (Scott, on Thursday), and the guys did a pretty good job of that.”
Scott finalist for award
CU’s Scott has been named one of 10 finalists for the Kareem Abdul-Jabaar award as the nation’s top center.
On Friday, Scott and nine other premier big men advanced from the initial list of 20 named to the award’s preseason watch list. Scott ranks third in the Pac-12 Conference in both scoring and rebounding, leading the Buffs with averages of 17.3 points and 9.4 rebounds. Scott also ranks fourth in the league in blocked shots (43) and seventh in field goal percentage (.563).
Pac-12 rivals Josh Hawkinson of Washington State and Jakob Poeltl of Utah also were named to the list of 10 finalists. In March, the finalists will be trimmed to a group of five that will be presented to Abdul-Jabaar and the basketball Hall of Fame award selection committee. The winner will be announced on ESPN during the College Basketball Awards in Los Angeles on April 8.
Pat Rooney: email@example.com or twitter.com/prooney07