Matthew Jonas / Staff Photographer
Jeremy Papasso / Staff Photographer
The Buffaloes could tell at halftime their offense was running as efficiently as it has all season against UCLA on Sunday. Head coach Tad Boyle was pleased when he glanced at the stats.
“I noticed at halftime we had 10 assists on only 14 baskets,” Boyle said. “We only ended up with 15 assists, but we weren’t making as many shots in the second half. Man, we had some good looks.”
Colorado turned in a rarity for this season by getting five players in double-figure points in a victorious Pac-12 Conference home finale against the Bruins. With the Buffaloes’ fate for the league tournament growing clearer — the most likely landing spot for CU is the eighth or ninth seed, with a first-round date against Arizona State — they hope to continue flashing a balanced attack as they prepare for the regular-season finale Saturday at Utah (5 p.m. MT, Pac-12 Mountain).
“I’ve got to give kudos to our players,” Boyle said. “When we struggled offensively — there was one stretch (Sunday) where we didn’t guard defensively and they came back in the game and tied it up, and we took a timeout — but really every other time we struggled offensively, we were getting stops.
“The zone was really good to us down the stretch. It made them take some time and kept them out of the paint.”
Against UCLA, the Buffs boasted five players in double figures, a feat they accomplished in regulation on only three previous occasions (six CU players scored at least 10 points in a double-overtime win against South Dakota State on Dec. 15, but only four hit that mark in regulation.) All four of those performances occurred at home (Arizona, Washington State, Washington, and UCLA), with the Buffs posting a 3-1 record in those games.
Certainly the number of double-digit scorers isn’t necessarily a barometer for how well the Buffs are playing — George King (26 points) was the only double-digit scorer in a Jan. 13 road win at UCLA, and that was one of the Buffs’ best all-around performances of the season — but for a CU team that hasn’t had a true offensive go-to guy all season, continuing to get contributions from across the rotation would provide a key boost to a club still in need of improving its credentials for a possible NIT berth.
In the latest NIT bracketology produced by nycbuckets.com and published on Sunday night (after CU’s win), the Buffs currently are the fourth team listed on the outside of the 32-team field.
“(UCLA) was huge. We can build some momentum, and we’ve got a road game against a good team at Utah,” King said. “Then we go into Vegas, where we know anything can happen. If we can get some momentum going into Vegas…we got this (UCLA) game, and if we can go get Utah and get Utah, and go into Vegas with some momentum, anything can happen. We’d really like that, to get some momentum going.”
The Buffs can’t finish better than the eighth seed out of the Pac-12 and could only drop as far as 10th with a loss at Utah combined with two victories by Oregon State on the road this week against the Washington schools.