This season, Tad Boyle has spoken frequently about getting freshman Lawson Lovering to slow down.
The same can be said of talented sophomore forward Jabari Walker.
It was a classic glass half-full/half-empty game for Walker during the CU Buffs’ 61-58 loss against No. 16 USC on Thursday. Walker led the Buffs with 13 points and shared the team lead with eight rebounds. He matched a career high with three steals. And he continued a recent resurgence with a 3-point shot that has been absent much of the season.
It nevertheless was a rough game for Walker.
For the third time in five games, Walker committed at least four turnovers. Against the Trojans, his fifth and final turnover in the waning seconds denied the Buffs a chance at firing up a potential game-tying 3-pointer in a 61-58 loss.
The giveaways ran the gamut. Walker committed his first three turnovers before the under-8 minute timeout in the first half. All three occurred with Walker trying to make a move off the dribble. In the second half Walker was charged with a three-second call and committed the final turnover on a careless dribble while CU was down three and looking for a critical shot in the final seconds.
“He’s got to slow down. Slow down,” Boyle said. “And understand when two guys are on you, someone else is open. When three guys are on you, two guys are open. That’s one thing we did as a team (Friday) for about an hour before practice, we watched film. We watched situations on film.
“I always talk about getting paint touches. We did a really good job of getting paint touches (against USC). That’s why we got to the foul line as often as we did. What we didn’t do a good job of the majority of the time was make good decisions when we got paint touches.”
While Walker enters Saturday’s date against No. 9 UCLA (7 p.m., Pac-12 Network) leading the Buffs in scoring and rebounding, he also owns a team-leading 40 turnovers against just 20 assists.
Boyle reserved high praise for UCLA point guard Tyger Campbell, who enters Saturday’s night’s game ranked third in the Pac-12 in assists (4.4) and third in 3-point percentage (.448). Campbell posted 11 assists in a Bruins win at the CU Events Center two years ago.
“Campbell is really good in the pick-and-roll and he’s a much, much improved 3-point shooter,” Boyle said. “He’s really good in the lane finishing. He’s a terrific point guard. Off the top of my head I can’t think of too many who are better in the league or the western part of the United States.’
Barthelemy bounce back
As for the Buffs’ own point guard, redshirt junior Keeshawn Barthelemy will attempt to rebound from a 3-for-11 showing during Thursday’s loss against USC. Barthelemy has struggled in each of CU’s four games (all losses) against ranked teams, going 7-for-35 overall and 0-for-12 on 3-pointers. Barthelemy does have 12 assists against just three turnovers in those games, but Boyle said shot selection remains one of Barthelemy’s biggest challenges.
Barthelemy posted a season-high number for field goal attempts while going 2-for-13 in a loss against then-No. 13 Tennessee, and his 3-for-11 night against USC tied for his third-most shot attempts this year. While Barthelemy is shooting .322 overall from 3-point range, he is just 5-for-24 in CU’s seven Pac-12 games.
“All I want is good shots. And he’s taking a lot of bad shots,” Boyle said. “That’s why his numbers are what they are. It’s not because he’s not a good shooter. He takes too many bad shots.”
The broadcast team of Ted Robinson and Bill Walton will be on the call for the Pac-12 Network…CU senior Evan Battey needs seven rebounds to become the 24th Buffs player to collect 600 in his career…After facing the Pac-12’s leading scorer in USC’s Isaiah Mobley, the Buffs will be tasked with slowing down UCLA’s Johnny Juzang, who ranks second in the league in scoring (17.9)…UCLA began Saturday at No. 20 in the NET rankings and No. 12 at KenPom.com. CU is No. 90 in the NET and No. 83 at KenPom…UCLA played without backup guard David Singleton at Utah due to concussion protocols, but he is expected to be available against the Buffs. Singleton is shooting .394 on 3-pointers and averages 5.5 points off the bench.