Andy Cross / The Denver Post
Jeremy Papasso / Staff Photographer
CU men’s basketball preview: USC Trojans
TIPOFF: Saturday, 8 p.m. MT, Galen Center, Los Angeles.
BROADCAST: TV — ESPNU; Radio — 850 AM.
RECORDS: Colorado 13-9, 4-6 Pac-12 Conference; USC 13-10, 6-4.
COACHES: Colorado — Tad Boyle, 9th season (179-119, 235-185 overall); USC — Andy Enfield, 6th season (106-86, 147-114 overall).
KEY PLAYERS: Colorado — G McKinley Wright, So., 12.7 ppg, 5.0 apg, 4.7 rpg; F Tyler Bey, So., 12.5 ppg, 9.0 rpg; F Lucas Siewert, Jr., 11.2 ppg, 5.0 rpg. USC — F Bennie Boatwright, Sr., 17.3 ppg, 6.7 rpg; F Nick Rakocevic, Jr., 16.0 ppg, 9.9 rpg; G Jonah Matthews, Jr., 12.9 ppg, 3.1 rpg.
NOTES: CU has lost four consecutive games against USC, including the past two at the Galen Center…The seven 3-pointers made by CU junior Shane Gatling in Wednesday’s win at UCLA tied for third-most in a game in CU history. Several Buffs have hit seven in a game, but before Gatling’s performance Richard Roby was the most recent CU player to achieve that feat, making seven in a home loss against Kansas State on Feb. 26, 2005…Gatling recorded just one assists in CU’s first three Pac-12 games but has averaged 3.3 in the past seven games…Bey has gone 21-for-26 on free throws (.808) over the past five games…Since missing a game at Utah on Jan. 20, Wright has gone 7-for-14 on 3-pointers, raising his season percentage from .250 to .315…CU has shot at least 50 percent from the floor in three of the past five games…The Buffs return home next week to host Arizona State on Wednesday (8:30 p.m., FS1) and Arizona on Feb. 17 (6 p.m., ESPNU).
LOS ANGELES — — After a slight delay, a delay that stoked a fair amount of ire out of the Colorado men’s basketball team, the Buffaloes trudged off the Galen Center floor 13 months ago saddled with a 12-point loss against the host USC Trojans.
As CU head coach Tad Boyle met reporters moments later, he made a promise. His team would not forget the rub-it-in-your-face timeout called by USC head coach Andy Enfield with 21 seconds remaining. The Buffs wasted their chance at payback a month later at home, but they will get another shot at the Trojans in their return to the Galen Center Saturday night (8 p.m. MT, FS1).
When asked about last year’s incident after the Buffs’ workout at the Galen Center Friday, Boyle said he had not yet brought it up with his team. Yet the sly grin he shared made it seem like that speech would be delivered at some point before Saturday night’s tipoff.
“That will be a game-time decision,” Boyle said. “I have not forgotten. To me, it’s another league game. I don’t look at this one any different than I did UCLA. It’s a game we certainly want to win for many reasons. But no more so than we did UCLA.”
Not only did USC take a late timeout in a game that was over, but the Trojans promptly ran a play in hopes of pouring salt on the Buffs’ wounds. Presumably, Enfield wanted to stick it to Boyle for the CU coach’s comments a week prior to the loss at USC, when he offered the now-famous “hell yes” response when asked if there was extra satisfaction if there was greater satisfaction in defeating one of the Pac-12 rivals embroiled in the FBI corruption probe. Boyle made his remarks after the Buffs defeated Arizona and didn’t mention USC by name.
Both Arizona and USC recently saw their former assistants arrested in that probe, Book Richardson (Arizona) and Tony Bland (USC), take plea deals.
CU point guard McKinley Wright certainly remembers USC’s late timeout as well, in addition to some of the posturing the Trojans endeavored in as they pulled away down the stretch.
“Obviously we remember what happened last year. We’re not that type of dirty, or whatever you want to call it. We don’t play like that,” Wright said. “We’re just coming out here trying to get a win. We’re not into none of the celebration dunks or whatever the case was at the end of the game last year. It is what it is. Just get a win, that’s all that matters to us.”
After posting an impressive win at UCLA Wednesday night, Saturday’s contest will be the second time in two weeks the Buffs will have a shot at recording an elusive two-game road sweep in Pac-12 Conference play. The Buffs fell short of achieving that feat two weeks ago in the Bay Area, defeating Cal before squandering a 12-point lead late in the first half at Stanford. CU enters the USC game having posted just one two-game road sweep in Pac-12 play in 30 chances since joining the league before the 2011-12 season.
“After Saturday night, we have five of seven at home,” Boyle said. “If we can scratch back closer to that .500 level, and obviously you want to get over that hump of .500 in the league, this is an important game for that to happen. Five-and-six is a lot different than 4-7. It just is, especially coming down the stretch.
“We felt like we should have had (a sweep) in the Bay Area, but we obviously didn’t. You can’t get the sweep unless you get the first one and we did that. Now it’s a matter of accepting the challenge.”