After deploying the same starting lineup through the season’s first five games, Colorado men’s basketball coach Tad Boyle opted to shake things up Saturday night against Sacramento State.
For the first time this season, Eli Parquet was in. Daylen Kountz was out. Following the Buffaloes’ turnover-riddled 59-45 win against Sacramento State at the CU Events Center, Boyle cited two primary reasons for the switch. And it had nothing to do with the 5-for-25 mark Kountz brought into the matchup against the Hornets.
“Two things on that. Number one, Elijah Parquet is probably our best perimeter defender other than McKinley (Wright). You can maybe make an argument for D’Shawn (Schwartz),” Boyle said. “We know that Eli is going to give us that. It also allows McKinley to, maybe not take a break, but McKinley is always drawing the other team’s best perimeter defender usually in the backcourt. It allows us to put Eli on that guy from the get-go and hopefully get McKinley going offensively a little more. Which, he scored the first six points of the game.
“The second part of the thinking is Daylen and Shane are probably are two best backup point guards. I don’t think either one is a true point guard, but they both have the ability to play that position. And to have only one of them in the game, which is what we had with the second unit when Daylen was starting, now with Daylen coming off the bench, he and Shane are in the game when McKinley comes out. We’ve got two ball-handlers and maybe it will help us offensively. Obviously it didn’t help us offensively tonight, but that’s the thinking. Don’t know if it will stay like that. We’ll see.”
Kountz’s struggles continued, with the sophomore going 0-for-2 with one assist against three turnovers in 11-plus minutes. After posting 46 assists with 41 turnovers last year, Kountz has recorded just three assists alongside eight turnovers through the season’s first six games.
Parquet, who started for the third time in his career, also struggled during the first half, going scoreless with two turnovers in about six and a half minutes. However, the sophomore guard made a couple solid plays after halftime, knocking down a jumper and converting a layup that gave the Buffs a 12-point lead less than two minutes into the second half. Parquet finished with four points and an assist without another turnover in nearly 11 minutes of action.
Seven-footer Dallas Walton left the floor wincing while holding his left shoulder with just under 10 minutes remaining. Boyle said Walton suffered a stinger at practice recently and the injury is not believed to be serious. Sophomore forward Evan Battey also was sidelined with under eight minutes to play and briefly retreated to the locker room after knocking his head in a scramble for a loose ball, but he soon returned to the floor and almost immediately converted a pair of field goals in a late 7-0 Buffs run that finally put Sacramento State away.
Foul free throws
When Kountz knocked down the Buffs’ first two free throw attempts of the game, it put CU on the cusp of a record that seemed unlikely less than a week ago.
Those conversions by Kountz gave the Buffs 26 consecutive made free throws, a mark they reached after going 24-for-25 while making the final 24 in a row during Tuesday’s win against Clemson. Given the Buffs had struggled at the free throw line through their first four games, posting a .603 mark through last Sunday’s win against Wyoming, it seemed an abrupt turnaround to threaten a record of 28 straight made free throws that has stood since December of 1983.
Yet not only did the Buffs fall short of the record, but they quickly reverted to their pre-Clemson form at the line. CU finished just 17-for-26 against Sacramento State, with the Buffs’ five starters going 11-for-20.
Boyle lauded the interior defense of Battey, who helped limit Sacramento State leading scorer Joshua Patton to just four points and three rebounds. Granted, Patton battled foul trouble and he eventually fouled out, but he entered the contest averaging 18.5 points and 5.5 rebounds with a lofty .722 field goal percentage. Patton went just 1-for-8 against the Buffs.
“We had Evan Battey on him. Evan Battey is a great post defender,” Boyle said. “We need to keep Evan out of foul trouble. Evan is so smart, and he’s so sound. He’s tough and he’s aware. Evan is just really good, and Evan did a terrific job on him. We challenged our post players to do a good job on Patton, and they responded. And I thought our perimeter guys did a pretty good job.”
The two made 3-pointers by the Buffs was the team’s fewest since CU connected on only two in a loss against UConn in the first round of the 2016 NCAA Tournament…CU’s starters shot 16-for-27. The bench went just 4-for-18…With four assists against Sacramento State, junior forward Tyler Bey now has 17 in six games. He had 23 assists in 36 games last year… Schwartz didn’t attempt a 3-pointer for the first time since late in his freshman season on Feb. 15, 2018 at Washington State…Former CU standout Josh Scott attended the game. Scott has been playing professionally in Japan but recently endured a setback in his comeback from a knee injury he suffered last season.