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Game day notes: Slowing Keion Brooks a huge key for CU Buffs against UW in Pac-12 tourney

Colorado Buffaloes center Lawson Lovering shoots over Washington's Braxton Meah. (Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)
Colorado Buffaloes center Lawson Lovering shoots over Washington’s Braxton Meah. (Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)

LAS VEGAS — Colorado men’s basketball coach Tad Boyle recycled one of his favorite jokes this week while taking a self-deprecating shot at his aging memory skills.

He then discussed the challenge of slowing Washington’s Keion Brooks Jr., at once perhaps offering proof his disjointed memories while explaining one of the Colorado Buffaloes’ biggest challenges on Wednesday in the first round of the Pac-12 Conference tournament.

“Whatever defense we’re in, we have to execute and we have to play with great energy and understand their personnel,” Boyle said. “Keion Brooks has had 52 points against us in two games, if my math is correct. We haven’t done anything to slow him down or stop him.”

Boyle’s math isn’t correct. Brooks scored “only” 39 points during the Huskies’ two regular season wins against CU, but Boyle’s point remains valid. Any chance of CU advancing out of its Wednesday afternoon fist-round battle against UW (1 p.m. MT, Pac-12 Network) likely will require the Buffs finally slowing Brooks, a high-scoring transfer from Kentucky who earned second team All-Pac-12 honors.

Brooks went a combined 15-for-23 from the floor and a perfect 6-for-6 at the free throw line in UW’s two wins against CU. He wasn’t the only Huskies player to fare well against the Buffs. Center Braxton Meah went 10-for-13 while averaging 13.0 points and 9.5 rebounds. Guard Cole Bajema went 5-for-10 on 3-pointers and averaged 12.0 points against CU.

Brooks has posted 13 games with at least 20 points. Meah enters the game averaging 9.0 points, but has scored in double figures in seven of the past eight games.

“(Brooks) has had his way with our defense,” Boyle said. “We’ve got to figure out a way to shore that up. You’ve got to try to keep size on him and try to keep him in front of us. If we are in zone, we’ve got to keep the ball out of the high post, which is where he gets it and he’s very effective in their zone offense.”


The Buffs and UW have met just once in the Pac-12 tournament in the 2019 semifinals, which the Huskies won 66-61. … CU is 16-10 all-time in the Pac-12 tournament. … CU center Lawson Lovering has enjoyed a solid stretch over the past four games, going 13-for-25 while averaging 7.5 points and 5.8 rebounds. … In Pac-12 games, Washington finished last in average rebounding margin at minus-5.5. … CU guard Julian Hammond III is 7-for-12 on 3-pointers in four career games against UW. … Roxy Bernstein and Don MacLean are scheduled to call the game on Pac-12 Network.