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Chance to salvage positive road trip awaits CU Buffs at Washington State

Tristan da Silva expected to miss second game due to COVID

BOULDER, CO: January 9, 2022- University of Colorado Boulder's Tristan da Silva scores on a reverse layup   against Washington during the Pac-12 game in Boulder on January 9, 2021. (Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)
BOULDER, CO: January 9, 2022- University of Colorado Boulder’s Tristan da Silva scores on a reverse layup against Washington during the Pac-12 game in Boulder on January 9, 2021. (Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)

SEATTLE — Even in a best-case scenario, in which the Colorado Buffaloes surge through February to make a postseason push, the loss suffered on Thursday night at Washington was the sort that will haunt a club.

Yet as head coach Tad Boyle is quick to point out, no matter how much it stings, there is nothing that can be done about something now squarely in the rear-view mirror. Nothing, that is, except start putting some wins on the board.

The up-and-down Buffs will try to bookend their three-game road trip with another triumphant high to balance the lowly loss at Washington in between, as CU completes its regular season series against Washington State on Sunday night. CU once again is expected to play without starting forward Tristan da Silva, who is sidelined with an illness that Boyle termed on Saturday as “COVID-related.”

It will be the fourth time in five games the Buffs have been without one of their starters, as senior guard Elijah Parquet missed both of last week’s home dates against USC and UCLA before coming off the bench during Tuesday’s win at Oregon. As of Saturday, Boyle did not believe any other CU players would be sidelined.

“It’s just about the next game,” Boyle said. “I don’t look at road trips or home swings. We’ve just got to figure out the next game, and for us that’s Washington State. As much as you want to look backwards, that Washington loss is definitely going to haunt us as the season unfolds. There’s no two ways about it, but there’s nothing we can do about it now. You pick up the pieces and move forward and try to improve and not worry about all the other stuff. The teams that can do that and just focus on the next game, the rest takes care of itself.”

The turnover-prone Buffs once again will have to execute against one of the stronger defenses in the Pac-12, though the Cougars have not yet been thoroughly tested in league play.

In league games, Washington State ranks first in points allowed per game (58.4), third in defensive field goal percentage (.404) and first in defensive 3-point percentage (.254). The Cougars also are third in league play in forcing turnovers, which could be a problem for a Buffs team that has committed at least 16 turnovers in four consecutive games.

However, Washington State has played only seven Pac-12 games so far and has played just one game against the other top four Pac-12 teams in terms of NET rankings — Arizona, UCLA, USC and Oregon (WSU suffered a two-point loss at home against USC on Dec. 4).

“Our guys are resilient. They’ve shown it time and time again this year,” Boyle said. “And I just feel like with Evan Battey we’ve got great leadership. I don’t worry about our bounding back or emotional state. We just have to play better. And we have to play more consistently. I think that’s the thing as you watch this team go through this season, it’s just the lack of consistency.

“Shooting the basketball is one thing. You’re always going to have ups and downs on that. Which we’ve had, but everybody has that. But it’s the consistency in terms of our rebounding is the big thing. We outrebound Washington by 20 at home and go down seven at their place. That’s what’s frustrating, the lack of consistency. It’s not like we’re not talented enough or we’re not good enough. It’s that we’re not consistent enough.”

CU Buffs men’s basketball at Washington State Cougars

TIPOFF: Sunday, 8 p.m. MT, Beasley Coliseum, Pullman, Wash.

BROADCAST: TV — Fox Sports 1; Radio — 850 AM and 94.1 FM.

RECORDS: Colorado 13-7, 5-5 Pac-12 Conference; Washington State 11-7, 4-3.

COACHES: Colorado — Tad Boyle, 12th season (246-150, 302-216 overall); Washington State — Nick Smith, 3rd season (41-36, 205-158 overall).

KEY PLAYERS: Colorado — F Jabari Walker, So., 14.0 ppg, 8.6 rpg; F Evan Battey, R-Sr., 12.0 ppg, 4.6 rpg, .524 field goal percentage; G Keeshawn Barthelemy, R-So., 11.0 ppg, 2.9 rpg, 2.7 apg. Washington State — G Michael Flowers, Gr., 12.7 ppg, , 3.6 rpg, 3.0 apg;  G Noah Williams, Jr., 11.7 ppg, 4.1 rpg; G Tyrell Roberts, R-Jr., 11.0 ppg.

NOTES: Washington State posted a win at home against Utah on Wednesday. It was the Cougars’ first game in 11 days following COVID postponements the previous week against the Oregon schools…Four players scored in double-figures for the Buffs during their 83-78 win at home against WSU on Jan. 6. Battey led the way by going 7-for-8 with 20 points. Roberts led WSU with 25 points despite going 3-for-10 on 3-pointers…CU has gone 68-for-81 (.840) at the free throw line over the past four games…The Buffs posted a comeback victory at WSU last year but lost in their previous three visits to Pullman…CU returns home for three consecutive games, beginning with Oregon on Thursday (8 p.m. FS1).

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