BERKELEY, Calif. — Due to injuries, the rotation has shrunk appreciably for the Colorado Buffaloes in recent weeks. Yet with the quantity missing, the Buffaloes are making sure their contributions are marked by quality.
The Buffs will put their four-game win streak on the line Saturday night at Stanford (8 p.m. MT, ESPNU) while seeking a third consecutive road victory within conference play for the first time in nine years.
One key aspect on display during the winning streak has been the Buffs’ ability to get contributions from across their truncated rotation. Look no further than the effort during Thursday’s70-62 win at Cal. While Tristan da Silva’s run of seven double-digit scoring efforts in eight games ended with a four-point outing, senior Evan Battey shook off a mini-scoring slump by pouring in 18 points.
Off the bench, Luke O’Brien took only one shot one game after posting a career-high 19 points in a win at Oregon State, but freshman KJ Simpson stepped up to record a season-high 19 points with two rebounds, two assists, and only one turnover in 26 minutes.
“Luke O’Brien, the loose ball he got (at Cal) diving on the floor in front of their bench in the second half was a big-time play in terms of hustle,” CU head coach Tad Boyle said. “It gave us some great energy there, too. Those are the winning plays you have to make on the road, whether it’s Luke or Julian (Hammond)…and KJ coming off the bench gave us great minutes (at Cal) and played extremely well for a freshman, down the stretch especially.”
Jabari Walker is setting a historic pace on the glass.
CU’s mega-talented sophomore has posted five consecutive double-doubles and goes into Saturday’s action leading the Pac-12 in rebounding (9.4 per game). He is the first CU player to record five double-doubles in a row since Tyler Bey during the 2018-19 season.
In the past two games — road wins against Oregon State and Cal — Walker recorded career-high totals of 15 rebounds each time. He is the first CU player to record consecutive 15-rebound games since Stephane Pelle during the 2000-01 season. Pelle, CU’s all-time leader in total rebounds, grabbed 17 rebounds against Nebraska on Feb. 17, 2001 and followed with 16 rebounds in the Buffs’ next game against Kansas.
During the five-game double-double streak, Walker has averaged 18.2 points and 13.2 rebounds. In that span Walker has shot .466 overall (27-for-58) while going 8-for-17 on 3-pointers. Walker also goes into the Stanford game having made 27 consecutive free throws, the longest streak by a CU player since Spencer Dinwiddie made 33 in a row in 2013.
Saturday’s game will pair two of the top rebounding teams in the Pac-12. In league games, the Buffs rank fourth in rebounding margin at plus-3.9. Stanford is third at plus-6.5. CU has outrebounded its past five foes by an average of 12.2 per game.
CU goes into Saturday’s action at No. 85 in the NET rankings and No. 90 at KenPom.com. Stanford is No. 99 in the NET and No. 95 at KenPom…The broadcast team of Dave Feldman and Adrian Branch will be on the call for ESPNU…Battey is set to play in his 127th game, which will tie George King and Xavier Johnson for 10th all-time at CU. Assuming he takes his usual spot in the starting lineup, it will be Battey’s 102nd start, tying Steve Wise for 11th all-time. Battey needs two points to become the 24th CU player to reach the 1,200-point mark in his career.