CORVALLIS, Ore. — By now, it’s clear the Colorado men’s basketball team is not going to feature a share-the-load type offense.
Yet with limited options for filling up the scoreboard, any hope the Buffaloes have of playing their way out of a slump will require a return to form by starting point guard KJ Simpson.
Simpson hasn’t quite been the same since missing one game in early January, yet his struggles reached a new low during two losses this weekend in Oregon that culminated in a 60-52 defeat at Oregon State on Saturday night.
After going 2-for-13 during Thursday’s loss at Oregon, Simpson was just 1-for-13 against the Beavers. In his seven games since that one-game injury absence, Simpson has shot just .302 (26-for-86) with a .148 mark on 3-pointers (4-for-27). In those seven games he has posted his three lowest scoring totals of the season — six at home against Oregon State, eight at Oregon and four on Saturday at OSU.
While Simpson was able to contribute five rebounds and four assists at Oregon while going turnover-free for the first time this season, his stat line at OSU included two rebounds, two assists and three turnovers.
“He’s struggling right now,” CU head coach Tad Boyle said. “He’s struggling to make shots. He’s struggling with shot selection. KJ is a talented player but he’s pressing a little bit. My message to KJ is I want him to take great shots and help the team accomplish their mission on offense. Which means you don’t turn it over and you get a great shot for our team.”
In the two games against OSU this season, Simpson went a combined 2-for-21.
CU’s 52 points marked a season-low scoring total. The Buffs also recorded season-lows in made free throws (three) and free throw attempts (seven)…OSU tied its second-highest mark of the season with seven blocked shots. It was the Beavers’ highest total in Pac-12 play…CU reserve guard Ethan Wright went 2-for-2 on 3-pointers, his first game with multiple 3s since Dec. 1 against Arizona State…Jalen Gabbidon played a season-low four minutes…Reserve guard Javon Ruffin missed his fourth consecutive game due to a knee injury, but he could be on track to return at home next week against the Bay Area teams. Ruffin didn’t dress Thursday at Oregon, but he did on Saturday and went through CU’s entire pregame routine…Oregon State freshman Jordan Pope scored 22 points, his second-highest total of the season and his best mark in Pac-12 play. Pope scored 23 points on Nov. 27 against Portland State…CU’s Luke O’Brien went 0-for-3 on 3-pointers, dropping his season percentage from the arc to .231 (9-for-39). O’Brien connected on three more 3-pointers last season in 13 fewer chances (12-for-26).