Lucas Siewert remembers the nerves. He also remembers exactly where he launched that first field goal attempt.
It was from the southwest corner of the CU Events Center floor, just inside the 3-point arc and pretty much as far as possible from the Colorado Buffaloes’ bench. It went awry but Siewert didn’t miss again in that CU debut on Nov. 11, 2016.
That matchup was against Sacramento State in a season-opening contest perhaps best remembered as the competitive CU debut of Derrick White, who seven months later became the ninth NBA first-round draft pick in Buffs history. Yet with an unbeaten Sacramento State set to return to Boulder to face the No. 21 CU Buffs on Saturday night, Siewert remains the only Buffs player who faced the Hornets that night.
“It was my first college game and I just enjoyed the experience,” Siewert said. “I shot my first shot from that corner over there. And then from there it I just hit three threes. That’s about all I remember.”
Siewert, the lone four-year senior on CU’s roster, is the player who has bridged the gap between the experienced but underperforming group from 2016-17 to the ranked, 5-0 squad that will hit the Events Center floor Saturday night. As a sophomore, Siewert was joined by a recruiting class that included McKinley Wright, Tyler Bey, D’Shawn Schwartz, and Evan Battey, and his development at CU became more closely linked to his younger teammates.
That showing by Siewert three years ago against Sacramento State remains the template for what the Buffs hope to get from him on a more consistent basis in his role off the bench. In that CU debut Siewert missed his first shot but then went 3-for-3 from long range, adding five rebounds in 17 minutes.
Consistency, though, has been elusive for Siewert. In each of the past two seasons, he has been solid in one half of the year but struggled in the other. This season he got off to a strong start, shooting 8-for-16 overall and 4-for-7 on 3-pointers while grabbing 13 total rebounds in the first two games. Yet over the past three he has shot 4-for-12 overall and 2-for-9 on 3-pointers while grabbing 11 rebounds.
“I think Lucas has become a better rebounder. Again, I want him to be a selfish rebounder,” CU head coach Tad Boyle said. “I want him to compete with Tyler (Bey) and Evan (Battey) on the boards, and not just assume they’re going to get them. Be hungry. The thing about Lucas that I like is that he’s more than just a pick-and-pop 3-point shooter now. He can be a true inside-out type guy, because you do have to guard him at the 3-point line. When he takes great shots and his feet are set, we feel good about it. He’s a big weapon on the offensive end that we have to take better advantage of.”
In Sacramento State, the Buffs perhaps are facing a more formidable foe than expected when the schedule was set. The Hornets bring a 4-0 mark to CU and has posted wins against solid squads from UC Riverside and Pepperdine. And in 6-foot-8 forward Joshua Patton, the Buffs will be challenged to slow down a player that has shot 72 percent while averaging 18.5 points and 5.5 rebounds.
“They’re undefeated, and they went and beat Pepperdine at Pepperdine and scored 49 points in the second half after being down 11. And Pepperdine just gave Arizona all they could handle,” Boyle said. “This team is no slouch. They’re well-coached. This is probably the best team I think coach (Brian) Katz has had since he’s been there, and I coached against these guys at Northern (Colorado) in the Big Sky.
“They’ve got some good low-post players. (Patton) is averaging almost 19 a game and is a good player. We cannot be taking anyone lightly. We’ve got a lot of room for improvement and it’s time for us to start showing some progress on the offensive end, because I think our last three games I’ve not been pleased with what we’ve done.”
Sacramento State Hornets at No. 21 CU Buffs men’s basketball
TIPOFF: Saturday, 7 p.m., CU Events Center.
BROADCAST: TV — Pac-12 Networks; Radio — 760 AM.
RECORDS: Sacramento State 4-0; Colorado 5-0.
COACHES: Sacramento State — Brian Katz, 12th season (130-206 at Sacramento State and overall); Colorado — Tad Boyle, 10th season (194-123, 250-189 overall).
KEY PLAYERS: Sacramento State — C Joshua Patton, Sr., 18.5 ppg, 5.5 rpg; G/F Bryce Fowler, Jr., 10.5 ppg, 6.0 rpg, 3.5 apg; F Ethan Esposito, Jr., 10.0 ppg, 6.8 rpg. Colorado — F Tyler Bey, Jr., 14.8 ppg, 11.6 rpg, 2.6 apg; G/F D’Shawn Schwartz, Jr., 12.4 ppg, 3.2 rpg, .500 3-point percentage; G McKinley Wright IV, Jr., 12.2 ppg, 4.4 rpg, 4.0 apg.
WHAT TO WATCH: The Buffs are playing defense at a marquee level but are trying to execute offensively at the same pace after shooting just .387 (65-for-168) over the past three games. Sacramento State boasts a defensive field goal percentage of .319 and has held its four opponents to a .190 mark on 3-pointers.
NOTES: After going 24-for-25 at the free throw line in Tuesday’s win against Clemson, including making the final 24 in a row, the Buffs are four free throws shy of matching the team record for consecutive made free throw. CU hit 28 in a row over two games against Colorado State and UC Irvine in December of 1983…With his 10-rebound game against Clemson, Bey moved into 24th all-time at CU in total rebounds needs just five more to move up to 23rd…Bey has four double-doubles in five games and 23 in his career. He needs just two more to match David Harrison for the 11th-most in team history…CU newcomer Maddox Daniels has gone 7-for-12 on 3-pointers…Other than going without an assist against Wyoming for the first time in his career, Wright has posted exactly five assists in each of CU’s other four games…The Buffs host Loyola Marymount on Wednesday as the final tune-up before the Dec. 7 showdown at No. 4 Kansas.