MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. — The trend has been at once both maddening and triumphant.
It’s also a trend the Colorado men’s basketball team understands is not sustainable. That’s why the goal on Sunday, when the Buffaloes finally complete their two-week, five-game road trip against Boise State in the finale of the Myrtle Beach Invitational, will be to end the wild rollercoaster ride of the season’s first two weeks.
It still has been less than two full weeks since CU opened the season with a home win against UC Riverside. Since then, the Buffs have posted a pair of wins against top-25 foes in a five-day span, first against then-No. 11 Tennessee in Nashville, and then routing No. 24 Texas A&M on Friday. Ahead of each of those wins, however, CU suffered a pair of bad losses, first at Grambling State and then in the Myrtle Beach opener on Thursday against UMass.
As it stands, the victories probably will rank as better wins than the defeats were bad losses. But that won’t be the case if the early up-and-down trend continues.
“I told the team afterward, in the locker room, great bounce back win (against UMass). But we’re tired of bounce back wins. We want to start building on wins and we haven’t done that yet this year,” CU head coach Tad Boyle said. “We can’t be that inconsistent team. If we lose a game, it’s got to be because somebody beats us and not that we beat ourselves.
“No discredit to UMass because they deserved to win the game (on Thursday), but we helped in that in a lot of different ways.”
The Buffs have won their first two games against ranked teams for the first time since the start of the 2016-17 season, when they defeated No. 22 Texas at the Legends Classic in Brooklyn before beating No. 13 Xavier at home. The wins against Tennessee and Texas A&M marked the first time CU has posted two wins against ranked foes away from home since the 2012-13 season (No. 16 Baylor at the Charleston Classic and at No. 9 Oregon). The 103-75 dismantling of Texas A&M also was the largest margin of victory for Colorado against a ranked opponent in team history, topping a 25-point home win against No. 8 Iowa State by the Chauncey Billups-led Buffs on Jan. 18, 1997.
The Buffs already have the foundation for a strong tournament resume. But not if they continue to fall flat against non-ranked foes.
“At this point, we don’t want to learn that way,” CU guard KJ Simpson said. “We don’t want to lose one, win one, lose one, win one. We want to be consistent and play the same way no matter the competition.”
Sunday’s action marks the end of a Myrtle Beach Invitational that has not unfolded as expected. The favored teams in Thursday’s four first round games — CU, Texas A&M, Boise State and Loyola Chicago — all lost. The ranked (for now) Aggies are 0-2. And, like the Buffs, Boise State bounced back in a big way from its opening loss, routing Loyola on Friday.
“The four teams on the losers’ side of this tournament, we all have at-large hopes and we want to play in the NCAA Tournament,” Boyle said. “These games matter. They’re going to come back in November and it will be either a really good win on your resume or a bad loss. We can’t take those for granted. Every time we step on the floor it’s an opportunity to prove ourselves on a national stage. We beat two ranked teams, which is pretty special. But the fact of the matter is, it doesn’t matter if you can’t take care of business in the other games.”
CU Buffs men’s basketball vs. Boise State Broncos
TIPOFF: Sunday, 5 p.m. MT, HTC Center, Conway, S.C.
TV/RADIO: TV — ESPNEWS. Radio — KHOW AM 630.
RECORDS: Colorado 3-2; Boise State 2-2.
COACHES: Colorado — Tad Boyle, 13th season (257-157, 313-223 overall). Boise State — Leon Rice, 13th season (246-147 at Boise State and overall).
KEY PLAYERS: Colorado — G KJ Simpson, 6-2, So. (19.2 ppg, 6.0 rpg, 3.8 apg); F Tristan da Silva, 6-9, Jr. (11.2 ppg, 3.2 rpg, .488 field goal percentage); G Jalen Gabbidon, 6-5, Gr. (9.8 ppg). Boise State — F Tyson Degenhart, 6-7, So. (14.8 ppg, 4.8 rpg); G Marcus Shaver Jr., 6-2, Gr. (12.8 ppg, 8.8 rpg, 4.3 apg); G Max Rice, 6-5, R-Sr. (12.5 ppg, 3.5 rpg).
NOTES: This is the first meeting between the programs…The .571 shooting percentage CU posted against Texas A&M (34-for-59) was the Buffs’ best mark since shooting .607 in a rout of Georgetown in the first round of the 2021 NCAA Tournament…Tad Boyle and Boise State coach Leon Rice are longtime friends, and Rice served as an assistant for the Boyle-led US U18 national team this past summer that won the gold medal at the FIBA Americas Championship…Boyle needs four wins to match Sox Walseth’s program record of 261…CU forward J’Vonne Hadley, the Buffs’ leading rebounder, is expected to miss his second consecutive game after suffering a right shoulder injury during Thursday’s loss against UMass…Like CU, Boise State has traded wins and losses so far this season. The Broncos opened with a home loss against South Dakota State before defeating Washington State. Boise State began the Myrtle Beach Invitational with a loss against Charlotte before routing Loyola Chicago 70-48 on Friday…After six games in 14 days to start the season, with five away from home, the Buffs will be idle for a week before finally returning to the CU Events Center on Nov. 27 against Yale.