CU men’s basketball preview: Washington
MATCHUP: Washington Huskies (9-14, 2-9 Pac-12 Conference) at Colorado Buffaloes (13-11, 3-8).
GAME TIME: Thursday, 8 p.m., Coors Events Center.
BROADCAST: TV — Fox Sports 1; Radio — 760 AM.
Washington — Lorenzo Romar, 15th season (298-188, 391-276 overall); Colorado — Tad Boyle, 7th season (143-91, 199-157 overall).
LEADERS: Washington — Scoring: G Markelle Fultz, Fr., 23.2 ppg; Rebounding: F Noah Dickerson, So., 8.0 rpg; Assists: Fultz, 6.0 apg. Colorado — Scoring: G Derrick White, Sr., 16.8 ppg; Rebounding: F Wesley Gordon, Sr., 7.3 rpg; Assists: White, 4.3 apg.
NOTABLE: Washington has lost five consecutive games since its overtime win at home against CU on Jan. 18…A win would give Boyle his 200th victory as a Division I head coach…George King, CU’s third-leading scorer, has been held to just seven points total over the past two games while going 2-for-10 from the field. King posted the first double-double of his career in last year’s home win against Washington with 10 points and 10 rebounds…After going 7-for-14 in an injury-shortened nonconference slate, CU junior guard Dom Collier has shot just .250 (15-for-60) in 11 Pac-12 games…White has gone 15-for-17 at the free throw line over the past three games…CU’s homestand continues Sunday night against Washington State (6:30 p.m., ESPNU).
Derrick White could be forgiven if there have been visions of Markelle Fultz attacking the basket haunting his thoughts over the past few weeks.
The senior guard for the University of Colorado men’s basketball team has enjoyed a number of big-time performances in his one season with the Buffs after transferring from UCCS. The Buffaloes’ loss at Washington three weeks ago, however, probably counts as one of White’s more forgettable games.
While White finished with 23 points — beginning a still-ongoing streak of four times in six games he has posted at least 23 points — he went just 9-for-24 from the field with an 0-for-5 mark on 3-pointers.
White did compile eight assists with only two turnovers while playing 41 minutes in the Buffs’ overtime loss, but if he endured any sleepless nights from the setback it was from what occurred at the defensive end of the floor. Matched against Washington freshman sensation Markelle Fultz for much of the contest, White and the Buffs watched a player expected to be a top-three pick in the NBA draft go off for a season-most 37 points.
White is hoping to etch a new memory when the teams meet again Thursday night in a Pac-12 Conference battle at the Coors Events Center.
“He’s a great player. You’ve just got to make it tough for him to get the ball,” White said. “At the end of the game he kind of got it any time he wants, so we have to make it tough for him to get it and then have good team defense. We have to battle to try and slow him down. There are a lot of great guards in the Pac-12 and you have to battle every night.”
What damaged the Buffs the most in the teams’ first matchup was Fultz’s ability to score in a multitude of ways. Though Fultz ranks seventh overall in the Pac-12 with a 3-point percentage of .421, he went just 0-for-2 against the Buffs. In a game in which CU held a 17-point lead early in the second half, Fultz scored 25 points after halftime, going 9-for-11 on free throws after the break while also going 8-for-14 from the floor.
Fultz leads the Pac-12 in scoring at 23.2 points per game and has averaged 24.5 in 11 league games.
“He’s a terrific player and can score in a lot of ways,” CU head coach Tad Boyle said. “We’ve got some thoughts. I don’t expect to shut him out by any means. What you have to do is just try to make him work for everything that he gets. I thought we did a decent job on him in the first half but in the second half he really got the ball in the lane on us. The best way to try to defend him is to try to keep him out of the paint.
“Obviously that’s easier said than done, but that’s our thought. Just try to keep him out of the paint and make him make jump shots over a hand and make him work for everything he gets.”
The Buffs might still enter the fray shorthanded, as on Wednesday after practice Boyle once again said the status of suspended seniors Xavier Johnson and Wesley Gordon remained “day-to-day.” The duo missed Sunday’s game at Cal for an undisclosed violation of team rules.
While Boyle has downplayed the notion of payback for the Buffs’ heartbreaking loss three weeks ago, some of his players are offering a different tune heading into Thursday’s rematch.
“I circled this date on my calendar from the day we left Seattle,” junior forward Tory Miller said. “That stung a little bit, so when they come here they should expect a game.”