SEATTLE — As freshman Tyler Bey went to the floor clutching his left leg on Saturday evening at Alaska Airlines Arena, Colorado head coach Tad Boyle had a sick feeling.
In this arena on Jan. 12, 2014, the Buffaloes’ season changed when guard Spencer Dinwiddie went down to the floor clutching his left leg. Dinwiddie tore the ACL in his knee that day, ending his season.
Seeing Bey drop to the floor reminded Boyle of that day.
“It made me really nervous because of what happened in this building a few years ago; it came back and haunted me,” Boyle said.
Luckily for Bey and the Buffs, the outcome was much different. The freshman forward hit his knee on the head of a Washington player and left the game, but returned to play a few minutes before going back to the bench to ice his knee in the closing minutes of the 82-59 loss.
“It’s just a bruise,” Bey said. “It’s nothing really. I’ll be all right. It was a lot of pain going in my knee, but I’m going to get through it and get back to work.”
Bey finished with 11 points, seven rebounds and three blocks. Most important to the Buffs is that Bey didn’t leave this arena the way Dinwiddie did four years ago.
“If there’s a silver lining in this game, that’s probably it,” Boyle said.
Turnovers piling up
Going into the game against the Huskies, the Buffs knew taking care of the ball would be critical. Their inability to do that killed them.
CU committed 18 turnovers, leading to 26 points Washington points. Of those 18 turnovers, 12 came on Washington steals. Junior Matisse Thybulle, who ranks second in Washington history with 186 steals, had four.
“We talked about using shot fakes, using pass fakes against these guys, because they’ve got guys like Thybulle and they have some length,” Boyle said. “They really shoot the gaps and they gamble, so you’ve got to get them moved with a shot fake or a pass fake. If you want to go to point A, you better fake it to point B before you go to point A, and we weren’t doing that.
“The turnovers that led to layups, it was a lot. There’s no defense that can stop that.”
Freshman guard Lazar Nikolic missed the game after injuring his hand in Thursday’s loss to Washington State. Nikolic, who had started the previous four games, is not expected to miss too much time, and the Buffs are hopeful he’ll be back next week.
“We’ll see,” Boyle said. “As soon as he’s ready to go, pain-wise and swelling wise, he’ll be ready to go. He doesn’t need surgery. We’ll take it day by day.”
This season, Nikolic has averaged 2.4 points and 2.5 rebounds per game. He had played in every game until Saturday, with seven starts.
Needing just three assists to break CU’s freshman record, McKinley Wright was credited with just one on Saturday. He now has 142, one shy of the record set by Chauncey Billups. … Alexander Strating got into the game late and scored two points — his first points since getting four against Denver on Nov. 14.