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Long trip begins with historic visit to Grambling State for Colorado men’s basketball

Colorado head men's basketball coach Tad Boyle instructs from the bench against UC Riverside on Monday in Boulder. (Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)
Colorado head men’s basketball coach Tad Boyle instructs from the bench against UC Riverside on Monday in Boulder. (Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)
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Make no mistake, this is a business trip for the Colorado men’s basketball team. A long one, sure, but a business trip nonetheless.

However, it will begin with a few historical and cultural lessons.

After opening the season with a solid home win against UC Riverside, and then celebrating the addition of five-star recruit Cody Williams on national signing day, the Buffaloes begin a two-week, five-game trip on Friday night in the program’s first visit to Grambling State University.

The matchup is part of the inaugural round of games in the Legacy Series, an offseason agreement made between the Pac-12 Conference and the Historically Black Colleges and Universities of the Southwestern Athletic Conference. The Buffs likely will face a raucous environment, as the Tigers are hosting a power conference foe for the first time. But the day also will begin with a visit to the Eddie G. Robinson museum, which honors the contributions, on and off the field, of Grambling’s legendary former football coach.

It will offer a few teaching points to start an extended trip in which keeping up with class work will be just one of the items testing the Buffs’ focus.

“We sat down maybe a few days ago and learned some of the history of HBCUs, so we have that knowledge going into this trip,” said CU wing Nique Clifford, a Colorado Springs native. “We know how much it means for us to go on this trip and learn a lot of history off the court. So that’s going to be a really cool experience, just being able to see their culture, see their campus and see how different it is from where we are every day. I’m definitely excited about that piece of it.”

Grambling State opened the season with an 82-57 rout of Division II UNT Dallas on Monday, and certainly the Tigers will be eager to take on a Pac-12 foe in their own gym. Yet the Legacy Series showdown also could provide the Buffs with an opportunity to ease into a trip that soon will become far more challenging.

Following Friday’s game the Buffs fly to Nashville, where they will take on No. 11 Tennessee on Sunday in a contest that will be considered a neutral-floor matchup. CU then travels to South Carolina and begins the Myrtle Beach Invitational on Thursday against UMass. A possible second-round foe for the Buffs on Nov. 18 is Texas A&M, which is the unofficial preseason No. 26 team in the country as the top team in others receiving votes in the preseason AP top 25.

Grambling returns its top two scorers from last year in guards Cameron Christon and Tra’Michael Moton, but the Tigers finished 12-20 last season and were picked sixth in the SWAC preseason poll.

“A lot of talented kids on that team. But they’re like a lot of teams in college basketball — they’re trying to figure out the pieces,” CU head coach Tad Boyle said. “They’ve got some transfers. They’ve got some guys that sat out last year. They’ve got some returning kids. They’re kind of still putting it all together.

“They got one opportunity against a Division II team and won convincingly. We had an opportunity against Riverside. I wouldn’t say we won convincingly. It was a 10-point game with a minute to go, but we took care of business in terms of getting the win. And now it’s time to go on the road. We’re making history, they’re making history. They want to beat us. We want to beat them. It’s time to go down with our hard hats on.”

CU Buffs men’s basketball at Grambling State Tigers

TIPOFF: Friday, 6 p.m. MT, Hobdy Assembly Center, Grambling, La.

TV/RADIO: TV — ESPN+. Radio — KHOW 630 AM.

RECORDS: Colorado 1-0 (21-12 last season); Grambling 1-0 (12-20 last season).

COACHES: Colorado — Tad Boyle, 13th season (255-155, 311-221 overall). Grambling State — Donte’ Jackson, 6th season (76-68 at Grambling and Division I overall).

KEY PLAYERS (2021-22 stats): Colorado — F Tristan da Silva, Jr., 9.4 ppg, 3.5 rpg, .373 3-point percentage; G Nique Clifford, Jr., 6.7 ppg, 4.6 rpg; G KJ Simpson, So., 7.4 ppg, 2.7 apg. Grambling State — G Cameron Christon, 6-6, Gr., 13.1 ppg, .402 3-point percentage; G Tra’Michael Moton, 6-1, Sr., 10.5 ppg, 3.4 apg; G Shawndarius Cowart, 6-3, Sr., 8.0 ppg.

NOTES: The teams met once previously, with CU posting a 93-47 home win on Dec. 29, 2007. Richard Roby poured in 25 points for the Buffs, while Cory Higgins went 7-for-11 with 15 points, six assists, four rebounds and three steals… With Mark Johnson in Los Angeles handling the play-by-play call for CU football at No. 8 USC, local announcer Santoria Black will handle the call alongside usual CU analyst Scott Wilke. Johnson is scheduled to be on the call for Sunday’s game in Nashville against No. 11 Tennessee…Carte’Are Gordon, a 6-foot-9 junior college transfer from Northwest Florida Community College, recorded a double-double (18 points, 14 rebounds) in his Grambling debut on Monday.

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