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Talented-but-streaky Tyler Bey fighting through rut with CU hoops

  • Colorado's Tyler Bey enters the weekend tied for third in...

    Jeremy Papasso / Staff Photographer

    Colorado's Tyler Bey enters the weekend tied for third in the Pac-12 in rebounding average (8.9).

  • Colorado's Tyler Bey played just 18 minutes in the Buffs'...

    Jeremy Papasso / Staff Photographer

    Colorado's Tyler Bey played just 18 minutes in the Buffs' loss to Oregon State on Thursday.



CU men’s basketball preview: Oregon Ducks

TIPOFF: Saturday, 7:30 p.m., CU Events Center.

BROADCAST: TV — Pac-12 Network; Radio — 850 AM.

RECORDS: Oregon 13-8, 4-4 Pac-12 Conference; Colorado 11-9, 2-6.

COACHES: Oregon — Dana Altman, 9th season (223-91, 633-334 overall); Colorado — Tad Boyle, 9th season (177-119, 233-185 overall).

KEY PLAYERS: Oregon — G Louis King, Fr., 12.4 ppg, 5.5 rpg; G Payton Pritchard, Jr., 11.5 ppg, 4.6 apg; F Paul White, Sr., 11.0 ppg, 3.8 rpg. Colorado — G McKinley Wright, So., 12.9 ppg, 5.1 apg, 4.7 rpg; F Lucas Siewert, Jr., 11.6 ppg, 5.1 rpg; F Tyler Bey, So., 11.6 ppg, 8.9 rpg.

NOTES: The Buffs boast a 7-0 record at home against Oregon. The Ducks were ranked No. 10 during their last visit to the CU Events Center on Jan. 28, 2017, and Derrick White recorded 23 points, five rebounds, and four steals to lead CU to a 74-65 upset victory…The Ducks are coming off a win Thursday night at Utah. Freshman Will Richardson scored a season-best 19 points as Oregon erased a 14-point Utah lead in the first half…CU freshman Daylen Kountz has posted 13 assists against seven turnovers over the past four games…After shooting a robust .488 (20-for-41) on 3-pointers during nonconference play, CU’s Siewert has struggled to a .333 mark from the arc (10-for-30) in Pac-12 play…The Buffs hit the road again next week with games Wednesday at UCLA (7 p.m. MT, Pac-12 Network) and Feb. 9 at USC (8 p.m. MT, ESPN TBD).

He is the Colorado Buffalo with the greatest potential ceiling as future professional player. And, with apologies to McKinley Wright when fully healthy, he is the CU player most capable of taking over any given game at both ends of the floor.

Tyler Bey, however, has been missing in action the past week.

After getting extended pine time in the second half of the CU men’s basketball team’s home loss Thursday night against Oregon State, the talented-but-streaky Bey will try to get back on track as the Buffs try to salvage something out of a long-anticipated homestand Saturday night against Oregon.

“We need Tyler to play better. We need everybody to play better,” CU head coach Tad Boyle said. “A little bit of a rut, maybe. We talk about playing on-balance, playing strong, and he hits the floor a lot. He hits the floor a lot for a guy his size with his athleticism.

“I love Tyler Bey. I’m not down on Tyler. I just think that he’s got to understand that he’s got to bring it every single game, every single possession. I’m not worried about Tyler in the long run. But in the short run, he’s in a little bit of a rut right now. He’s got to get himself out of it. And the body language I’ve talked about, he’s one of the guys that we’ve got to get him better at that when he’s down and when he’s not playing well. He has a tendency to hang his head. It’s not going to get your anywhere in life, and certainly in Division I basketball.”

Bey seemed his typical self during last week’s win at Cal, going 6-for-8 from the field while recording 17 points and 14 rebounds for his sixth double-double of the season. The 6-foot-7 sophomore didn’t exactly struggle in the Buffs’ loss at Stanford two days later — Bey went 8-for-16 and paced the Buffs with 17 points — but he missed several easy looks inside and finished with only five rebounds, his lowest total in a full game this season. (Bey had only one rebound Nov. 24 at Air Force, but he played just seven minutes before exiting with a shoulder injury).

It was a different story during Thursday’s home loss against Oregon State. Discouraged with Bey’s defensive performance as well as a 1-for-7 night that included an ill-advised 3-point attempt, Boyle opted to keep Bey on the bench for the bulk of the second half. Bey’s 18 minutes marked a season-low outside of that shortened appearance at Air Force.

With the lost opportunity against Oregon State in the books, time slowly is running out for the Buffs to salvage something out of what has been a disappointing 2018-19 campaign. Any hot streak requires a return to form by Bey, who still enters the weekend tied for third in the Pac-12 in rebounding average (8.9) and 13th in field goal percentage (.520).

Asked on Friday if he had any second thoughts about sitting a potential difference-maker in a back-and-forth game that still was tied with less than two minutes remaining, Boyle stood by the decision — particularly since bench players Evan Battey, Daylen Kountz, and Alex Strating (combined 11-for-14, 27 points) clearly were outperforming Bey and fellow starters D’Shawn Schwartz and Lucas Siewert. That starting trio went 4-for-19 with 14 points.

“I don’t have any second thoughts whatsoever,” Boyle said. “This is one of those teams where you’ve got to go with who’s playing well that night. That’s going to be different any given night. We know what Tyler is capable of, but we’re past the point of what you’re capable of. We’re to the point of, ‘What are you doing while you’re out there?’ That’s what I’m going to have to figure out night to night, game to game.”

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