In the past two games, Thomas Akyazili has shown the ankle injury that limited his effectiveness on the road last week is a problem clearly in his past.
He also provided a moment of youthful indiscretion that will provide head coach Tad Boyle with a big coaching point moving forward.
Two days after posting a career-best 10 points in a double-overtime win against Washington State, Akyazili once again provided a scoring spark against Washington, at one point recording nine consecutive CU points during a 24-10 second-half surge that turned a one-point advantage into a 15-point lead.
Yet Akyazili also let his emotions get the best of him at a critical juncture, getting called for technical foul with 56 seconds remaining and the Buffs clinging to a three-point lead. Andrew Andrews knocked down the free throws to pull Washington within a point, but Akyazili was let off the hook when CU’s Tre’Shaun Fletcher forced a Huskies turnover on the ensuing possession, a sequence that helped secure CU’s 81-80 win.
“It was a learning moment,” Boyle said. “It cost us two points and the ball, because it was a dead-ball technical foul.
“I didn’t see it. It was down at the end of their bench. Very unfortunate but again, something Thomas needs to learn from. But not only does Thomas need to learn from it, our entire roster needs to learn from it. That can’t happen at that point of the game.”
Akyazili, who earned the first foul-out of his career on the technical, also finished with a season-high four rebounds to go with three assists, one blocked shot, and one steal in 23 minutes.
While Josh Scott remained sidelined with a sprained ankle, Fletcher’s return from his own partial one-game absence from an ankle injury gave a boost to CU. Fletcher scored all 10 of his points in the first half, knocking down both of his 3-point attempts and adding four rebounds.
Including a brief six-minute appearance on Thursday before the sore ankle sent him to the bench, Fletcher has made 11-of-19 shots over the past three games.
“He came in and made a couple shots for us,” Boyle said. “I thought he helped us out defensively. He’s not 100 percent, but I thought he played well. Hopefully we can get him back 100 percent.”
Saturday’s victory gave CU the ninth 19-win regular season campaign in program history. Five of those nine have occurred during Boyle’s six-season tenure…Forwards Wesley Gordon (9-for-11) and Tory Miller (4-for-4) combined to make 13-of-15 free throws.