For a squad that has struggled with its consistency through the season’s opening weeks, the Colorado men’s basketball team has something to train its focus upon this week.
Week four of the regular season marks the beginning of Pac-12 Conference play, with the Buffaloes tipping off the league slate on Thursday night at home against Arizona State (6:30 p.m., FOX Sports 1).
It is the third season featuring December standalone games on the league slate after the Pac-12 expanded to a 20-game conference schedule with the 2020-21 season, although in that pandemic-marred campaign, CU was just one of seven Pac-12 teams that actually played all 20 of its conference games.
“We know Arizona State is playing well right now,” CU head coach Tad Boyle said. “They’re playing with a lot of confidence. Talented players. They beat Michigan and VCU back in Brooklyn. Two really good programs, two really good teams. We know it’s not going to be easy. We’re going to play Washington and 40 minutes of zone in Seattle on Sunday. Heck of an opportunity for our guys to dial-in and see if we can get off on the right foot here.”
USC visits Cal in the first Pac-12 game of the season on Wednesday (8 p.m. MT, Pac-12 Network). The rest of the league plays on Thursday. In addition to ASU’s trip to Boulder, Arizona visits Utah (6:30 p.m. MT, Pac-12 Network); Washington visits Oregon State (8 p.m. MT, ESPNU); Stanford hosts UCLA (8:30 p.m., ESPN2); and Washington State visits Oregon (8:30 p.m. MT, Pac-12 Network).
In addition to CU’s visit to Washington, a full league slate will be on tap on Sunday as well: Utah at Washington State (2 p.m. MT, ESPNU); Cal at Arizona (3 p.m. MT, Pac-12 Network); Oregon at UCLA (3 p.m. MT, ESPN); Oregon State at USC (5 p.m. MT, Pac-12 Network); and Stanford at Arizona State (5 p.m. MT, ESPNU).
After his huge individual performance led Arizona to an impressive showing at the Maui Invitational, Wildcats forward Oumar Ballo on Monday was named the Pac-12 Player of the Week.
Ballo was all but unstoppable during Arizona’s wins against Cincinnati, San Diego State and Creighton, averaging 21.0 points while shooting a stellar .794 from the floor (27-for-34). Ballo was named the MVP while Arizona claimed the tournament title.
Ballo opened his week by scoring 21 points with 10 rebounds on an 8-for-11 showing against Cincinnati before going 5-for-6 with 12 points against San Diego State. Ballo capped his run with a 30-point, 13-rebound double-double against Creighton.
UCLA’s highly-touted rookie guard, Amari Bailey, won the Freshman of the Week after averaging 15.5 points, 6.0 assists and 3.5 rebounds in a pair of Bruins victories.
After winning the Maui Invitational, Arizona jumped 10 spots to No. 4 in this week’s AP top 25. UCLA dropped two spots to No. 21. ASU is the only other Pac-12 team that received votes in this week’s poll…Washington’s Keion Brooks was named the MVP of the Wooden Legacy tournament after averaging 15 points in the Huskies’ wins against Fresno State and St. Mary’s.