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Game day notes: CU Buffs hope to get defense on track against Maine

No team believed to have traveled further to face CU than Black Bears

BOULDER, CO - Nov. 13, 2021: ...
Colorado head coach Tad Boyle hopes to see improved defense from the Buffaloes in their Monday night battle against Maine.(Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)
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Turnovers clearly have been an issue for the Colorado men’s basketball team despite a 2-0 start punctuated by clutch plays at crunch time.

Yet so far the defense also has been below the standards the Buffaloes set for themselves as well.

Under head coach Tad Boyle, now getting rolling in his 12th season, the Buffs set a daily game standard of holding their opponents under 40 percent from the field. That hasn’t happened yet through the season’s first two games.

In the opening win against Montana State, the Bobcats shot .478 overall with a 12-for-30 mark (.400) on 3-pointers. The Buffs’ defense was a little closer to the mark against New Mexico, holding the Lobos to a .419 mark overall and a .261 mark on 3-pointers (6-for-23).

CU will look to take another step forward defensively when the Buffs host Maine on Monday night (6 p.m., Pac-12 Mountain).

“They have to understand the things that we’ve gotten away with against Montana State and New Mexico, we’re not going to get away with against UCLA and Stanford, our two league games here in December,” Boyle said. “Pac-12, the margin for error goes down. That’s why the daily improvement, the game-to-game improvement, we need to see it.”

Travelin’ men

Maine is believed to be the opponent that has taken the longest road trip to play a game in Boulder in CU men’s basketball history. The Buffs have never hosted teams from Hawaii or Alaska. CU hosted Jacksonville in 1976, but according to Google Maps, the distance between Boulder and Jacksonville is about 1,7765 miles. The distance between CU the Black Bears’ campus in Orono, Maine, is 2,220 miles.

Looking ahead

CU’s first opponent in the Paradise Jam in the US Virgin Islands on Friday, Southern Illinois, split its first two games, losing the opener 69-66 at Arkansas Pine-Bluff before defeating Austin Peay. The Salukis do not play again until they face the Buffs on Friday (6 p.m. MT, ESPN3).

If the Buffs win they receive a day off before playing a second round game on Sunday, but if they lose they play again Saturday with an off day on Sunday. Either way, CU will face either Duquesne (defeated Hofstra, lost to Rider, and plays Weber State Monday night) or Northeastern (losses to Colgate and Georgia State going a Tuesday date at Boston University) in the second game.

Notable

Despite 15 points and nine rebounds from former Buffs forward Jeriah Horne, Tulsa suffered a tough two-point home loss on Saturday against Air Force. Horne gets a shot at one of his former Pac-12 rivals Monday night as the Golden Hurricane hosts Oregon State (7 p.m. MT, ESPNU)…Former CU 7-footer Dallas Walton is off to a slow start offensively with Wake Forest. Walton started the Demon Deacons’ first two games, but went 3-for-11 (0-for-4 on 3-pointers) with four turnovers, though he has collected eight rebounds and four blocked shots…It has been a different story so far for former CU forward D’Shawn Schwartz at George Mason. Through three games, Schwartz is averaging 15.3 points and 5.7 rebounds while shooting .533 overall (16-for-3) with a 9-for-19 mark on 3-pointers. Schwartz and the Patriots, under the first-year leadership of former CU assistant Kim English, face a big test Wednesday night at No. 20 Maryland (5 p.m. MT, Big Ten Network)…Since the start of the 2017-18 season, the Buffs’ November winning percentage of .952 (20-1) is the best mark in NCAA Division I men’s basketball…The date against Maine will be CU’s first against a team from the America East Conference since a home win against Hartford on Dec. 29, 2012.

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