When the Colorado men’s basketball team hit the floor for the 2017-18 season the Buffaloes had plenty of question marks. Three-point shooting, however, was not supposed to be one of them.
With George King, who led the Pac-12 Conference in 3-point percentage two years ago, and Dom Collier, who connected at a .444 rate that same season, leading the way, whatever growing pains the Buffs would inevitably experience would be offset with strong proficiency from behind the arc.
That wasn’t the case at all through nonconference play and the first couple games within the Pac-12. However, as the Buffs host Washington on Saturday while in search of their fifth win in six games, a return to form from 3-point land has been a major ingredient in CU’s resurgence.
“We talked many times earlier in the season that we had a lot of good looks that weren’t going down. I said we have a good shooting team, and I’ve known that and believed that,” CU coach Tad Boyle said. “Our guys have done a good job getting in the gym and working on their shots and trying to play with confidence. I’m trying to give them confidence as a coach.”
After going 7-for-22 on 3-pointers at Oregon on New Year’s Eve, the Buffs’ season percentage dropped to .325. In the five games since they have gone 47-for-113 (.415) to raise that season mark to .350. In league games CU ranks fourth in the Pac-12 at .381 going into Saturday’s game against Washington.
King, who entered the season on the brink of taking over the program’s all-time lead in career 3-point percentage, saw his season percentage dip to .333 after an 0-for-5 night in a loss against San Diego on Dec. 12. He has gone 22-for-50 (.440) in the nine games since, and that’s with an 0-for-4 night against Iowa working against him during that span. King enters the UW game with an 18-for-40 mark (.450) in seven Pac-12 games.
But King is not alone in sparking the Buffs’ 3-point resurgence. Collier has gone 11-for-20 in league games. And while junior guard Namon Wright struggled to a .297 mark (11-for-37) in nonconference games, he has gone 11-for-27 (.407) so far within the Pac-12.
“I try to encourage them to be aggressive and take great shots, and if you miss them you miss them. But don’t hesitate on the next one,” Boyle said. “That’s something every player has to kind of figure out in his mind. Namon has figured that out. Dom has figured that out. George has never been bashful about shooting. I’ve got a lot of confidence in all the guys.”
King enjoyed a pleasant surprise before Thursday night’s victory against Washington State with an unexpected visit from his mother, Tresse. An officer in the Air Force who is stationed in Japan, King had not seen his mother since last summer. The CU senior said his mother generally visits around his birthday — King turned 24 on Jan. 15 — but didn’t expect that visit this year due to her overseas assignment.
“It didn’t even cross my mind that she would come here,” King said. “Apparently there’s no distance that’s too great for her to get here for my birthday. That was really special to me.”
On Friday Boyle said there has no further update on the medical status of freshman Evan Battey, who suffered a stroke or seizure-type episode during the semester break…Freshman guard McKinley Wright enters the UW game with 100 assists, becoming the 37th CU player to reach that total. Wright passed Jay Humphries (99 in 1980-81) to move into fourth-place among assists by a CU freshman.