EUGENE, Ore. — Tad Boyle very much believes in the fight and grit of his Colorado Buffaloes. Saturday night’s contest at Oregon State represents an opportunity to reward that faith.
The Buffs have the feel of a team at a crossroads going into the road matchup against the Beavers (6 p.m. MT, ESPNU). Win on Saturday night, and the Buffs will dull at least a little bit of the sting of three bad losses they have suffered over the past month.
But if CU suffers its third consecutive loss, the comparisons to last year’s late slide will be equally unavoidable and appropriate.
For his part, Boyle’s confidence in a veteran rotation remains unwavering. Two years ago, this core group won 12 out of 15 games while reaching the Pac-12 semifinals and the NIT quarterfinals. Last year, as Buffs fans currently are recalling with a sense of dread, they ended the season with five consecutive losses and had their shot at redemption snatched away when the NCAA Tournament was canceled amid the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
A win at Oregon State would help the Buffs split the difference during this year’s stretch run. And splitting that difference would certainly assure CU an NCAA Tournament berth.
“I believe in all our guys,” Boyle said. “The belief that I have in this team is unwavering. It was confirmed (at Oregon) even though we didn’t win the game. I thought we could take some good things out of it. We’re never going to be satisfied with a loss, that’s for damn sure. We’ve got to regroup and come out with that kind of fight on Saturday.”
After topping Utah on Thursday, Oregon State is seeking its first sweep of the Rocky Mountain schools since the 2015-16 season…CU held Oregon State to a .327 shooting percentage in a home win against the Beavers on Feb. 9 — the lowest mark against any Pac-12 foe and the third-lowest the Buffs’ defense has produced all season. Not coincidentally, OSU enters Saturday’s game ranked last in Pac-12 games with a .412 field goal percentage…CU point guard McKinley Wright IV is set to make his 122nd career start, which will tie Wesley Gordon for third all-time…With one more 3-pointer, Buffs senior D’Shawn Schwartz will match former teammate Lucas Siewert for eighth on CU’s career list…OSU guard Ethan Thompson is set to make his 116th career start on Saturday. If he reaches 120, he will match Hall of Famer Gary Payton for the most starts in OSU history…Despite the consecutive losses, CU (16-7, 10-6) still is just one win shy of matching its best conference win total since joining the Pac-12…CU enters Saturday still leading the nation in free throw percentage (.825)…As of Saturday morning, CU was ranked 21st in the NET and 17th at KenPom.com.