If the Colorado Buffaloes are able to make a run at the Pac-12 Conference tournament championship, weary legs undoubtedly will be an issue at some point along the way.
However, the Buffs should be well-rested heading into their demanding rematch against Arizona, despite the short 24-hour turnaround following Wednesday’s victory against Washington State in the first round of the Pac-12 Conference tournament.
The combination of the lopsided final score and early foul trouble for a couple CU regulars allowed head coach Tad Boyle to limit his players’ minutes. Boyle was particularly pleased his three forwards — Josh Scott, Wes Gordon, and Tory Miller — were not forced to play heavy minutes with the challenge of Arizona’s 6-foot-9 Ryan Anderson and 7-foot Kaleb Tarczewski looming.
“That was nice, especially for our three bigs with Tory and Josh and Wes,” Boyle said. “When we can spread their minutes out like we did tonight, it makes it easier for all of them.
“Ideally, in a perfect world, you want to have the minutes like they were tonight so you don’t exhaust anybody too much because we’re going to have to have a lot of energy tomorrow for Arizona.”
Gordon logged a team-high 26 minutes, with Miller playing 23 and Scott 22. Foul trouble limited starting point guard Dom Collier to just 15 minutes, but he made the most of his time by going 2-for-2 on 3-pointers with two assists and two steals.
Boyle was able to empty his bench down the stretch, giving conference tourney court time to Eli Stalzer, Kenan Guzonjic, Mitch Lombard, Josh Repine, and senior Brett Brady, who brought the solid CU contingent to its feet with a late 3-pointer.
“It’s going to be a physical, tough game (against Arizona),” Scott said. “We have to play to the level of the game. It’s about making plays.”
“I just didn’t feel like we had any energy or juice in the game. And I felt like Colorado had a lot of energy and a lot of juice.”
— Washington State head coach Ernie Kent, whose club finished the season on a 17-game losing streak.
Once again CU’s bench provided a huge spark, with Miller and Thomas Akyazili turning in their second consecutive impressive performances.
Miller shared the team’s top rebounding honors with Gordon with seven apiece. Akyazili has gone 5-for-7 in the past two games after going 2-for-15 in his previous four. Akyazili was credited with just two assists but set up several more points than that, as several nifty passes to open teammates ended with free throw attempts.
“Thomas was really aggressive tonight,” Boyle said. “He pushed the ball in transition. He kicked it ahead. The one thing about Thomas is guys like playing with him because he’s so unselfish. He’s all about the team. He post-feeds. He kicks it ahead on the break.”
In six seasons under Boyle, CU has never lost an opening league tournament game. The Buffs are 11-4 overall in conference tournament games under Boyle…After enduring a stretch in which the Buffs committed at least 20 turnovers in three of four games, CU has committed 11 or fewer in five straight…The Buffs went 10-for-11 at the free throw line and are 23-for-27 over the past two games.