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CU men’s basketball: Wesley Gordon thriving without Josh Scott

Colorado's Wesley Gordon, right, goes up strong against Washington's Marquese Chriss during Saturday's game in Boulder.
Cliff Grassmick / Staff Photographer
Colorado’s Wesley Gordon, right, goes up strong against Washington’s Marquese Chriss during Saturday’s game in Boulder.

Head coach Tad Boyle says Wesley Gordon too often welcomes a supplementary role when Josh Scott is on the floor.

Scott believes his running mate on the interior sometimes needs to play with a little more urgency.

Gordon, for his part, has repeated a familiar mantra with the thought of it all just being a matter of staying aggressive.

Ask around among the Colorado Buffaloes, and the theories likely will expand. Yet no explanation will change the simple truth of an anomaly that clearly has evolved into a trend — when Scott is sidelined, Gordon takes his game to another level.

“There’s more rebounds to be had (without Scott) and he’s going and getting them,” Boyle said. “And I do think Wes, when Josh is out there, sometimes takes a back seat so to speak. When Josh isn’t out there he’s a little bit more aggressive in terms of scoring the ball. Certainly rebounding the ball.

“It’s a process that hopefully we can get to when Josh comes back. It’s not like (Gordon) hasn’t had good games when Josh is in there. The biggest challenge with Wes in his career here has been consistency. We’re starting to see now over three games, three double-doubles in a row. He’s got to start somewhere. Not that he’s going to get a double-double every night out, but (being) consistent with his effort.”

Gordon is riding perhaps the hottest streak of his CU career, recording three consecutive double-doubles with Scott largely out of the lineup. The number of such performances Gordon has turned in during the relatively few amount of games Scott has missed clearly shows a connection.

Since the beginning of the 2014-15 season, Scott has missed 10 full games out of the 60 the Buffaloes have played. Within those 10 games, Gordon has posted five of the nine double-doubles he has recorded during that 60-game span. That total doesn’t include the game in which Gordon began his double-double streak last week at Oregon State when Scott went down with an ankle injury that kept him out for the second half. In that game, Gordon recorded six points and eight rebounds during the first half with Scott on the floor, and seven points and three rebounds in the second half with Scott on the bench.

“I’ve been really proud of him, really happy for him,” Scott said. “It’s what I see in practice, it’s what I’ve been saying all year about Wesley’s capabilities. With him, it’s all mindset. He needs to come out with the mindset of being aggressive every game. Sometimes he doesn’t do that. But he’s been doing that know because he’s had to.

“He needs to take that when I do get back. He’s a good rebounder and it’s not that there’s not enough rebounds to go around. You have to have that mentality every single game.”

The challenge for Boyle and the Buffaloes is to find the key that will ignite Gordon in the same manner once Scott returns, which could be some time this week during a road trip that begins Wednesday at USC and concludes Saturday at UCLA.

When CU’s leading scorer and rebounder is ready to go, obviously he is going to play heavy minutes. Yet if Gordon can continue his recent run of aggression alongside the typical production from Scott, CU’s chances of competing for the Pac-12 Conference regular-season crown over the season’s final three weeks grows exponentially.

“The thing about Wes is that he’s such a team player,” Boyle said. “He’s going to do whatever is going to try and help the team win. Sometimes he does defer a little bit at times.”

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