The extended hangover finally has been diffused. Now the Colorado Buffaloes will look to make up for last week’s misstep at home by taking their show on the road.
Sunday’s thorough 91-52 win against Utah showcased the Buffs putting together one of their most complete 40-minute performances of the season, with CU reverting to the form that has dominated its play of late but that went absent in dramatic fashion during the final seven-plus minutes of futility in a loss last week against Oregon State.
After playing their first three Pac-12 Conference games at home, the Buffs begin the road portion of their league schedule on Thursday at Arizona State (7 p.m. MT, ESPN2) knowing it is road results that will allow CU to make up for last week’s stumble at home.
The visit to ASU will be a homecoming of sorts for CU assistant coach Anthony Coleman, who spent three seasons as part of the Sun Devils’ staff under Bobby Hurley before joining the Buffs this season.
“We know it’s going to be a battle,” CU point guard McKinley Wright IV said. “We beat Arizona State the first game of the year. We’re 0-2 there so we’re trying to go in there and get a win. We owe them one. It’s going to be a big night for coach Coleman. He coached there last year, obviously. We’re going to do our best to go in there and get one for him.”
The Buffs’ dominant play on Sunday made an impression on the voters of the weekly AP Top 25, as on Monday CU moved up five spots to No. 20 in this week’s poll. It matches the Buffs’ highest ranking of the season, and CU also jumped from 81 points in last week’s poll to 345 points this week. It is the second-highest point total of the season for the Buffs, who collected 371 points when they reached No. 20 in the Week 5 poll on Dec. 2.
It is the seventh week this season the Buffs have been ranked, surpassing the 2013-14 team for the most in head coach Tad Boyle’s 10-year tenure. That total also matches the 1968-69 Buffaloes for the most in program history.
Even more importantly for the Buffs, through Sunday’s games across the nation CU moved up to No. 21 in the NET rankings.
“We talked after the Oregon State game, we have got to make up for that,” Boyle said. “And we’re not going to make up for that against Utah. We’re at home. We’re supposed to win at home. You’ve got to hold serve at home. The way we’re going to make up for the Oregon State game is by going on the road and getting some stuff done. And that opportunity comes on Thursday in Tempe, and we’ve got another shot on Saturday in Tucson (against Arizona).
“It’s a big road trip for us if we want to do what we want to do, which is compete for a conference championship. You have to be able to win on the road to do that. There’s no time like the present.”
In an unusual twist for the first conference road game, the Buffs and ASU already met in the season opener in the Pac-12’s annual game in China, an 81-71 win for the Buffs in a contest played as a nonconference game.
It will be a different foe on the floor Thursday for CU. ASU played that game without forwards Romello White, who is second in the Pac-12 in rebounding behind the Buffs’ Tyler Bey, and Taeshon Cherry, both of whom were serving one-game suspensions. ASU took No. 8 Oregon to overtime on Saturday and posted a road win two days earlier at Oregon State.
“It’s going to be a totally different game than the one in Shanghai,” Boyle said. “We got them in Shanghai without Taeshon Cherry. Mickey Mitchell didn’t play that game. Romello White didn’t play that game. They’re a completely different team with those guys in the lineup. I think we’re a better team than we were in Shanghai. They’re playing well. They beat Oregon State on the road. They gave Oregon all they wanted on the road. They’re playing well, and they’re competitive and they’re tough.”