Scouting report: Colorado
Game info: 5 p.m. Sunday at Coors Events Center (11,064 capacity).
TV: ESPNU (Roxy Bernstein and Corey Williams).
Radio: KJR 950 AM (Bob Rondeau and Jason Hamilton).
Coach: Tad Boyle is 86-44 (.662) in his fourth season with the Buffaloes and 141-109 (.564) in eight years as a head coach. He’s fourth on Colorado’s all-time coaching wins list. He’s also the first coach to guide CU to three straight 20-plus win seasons. Prior to joining Colorado on April 19, 2010, he spent four years at Northern Colorado where he amassed a 56-66 (.459) record. Boyle, 51, played at Kansas (1981-85).
Prediction: Picked to finish third in a preseason poll in the Pac-12 by media who cover the conference. Colorado received 1 of 23 first-place votes.
Series: The series began Dec. 30, 1953 and Washington leads 9-7. The Huskies are 1-5 at Colorado.
Last meeting: C.J. Wilcox set career highs with seven 3-pointers and 31 points, including 21 in the second half, and Washington ran away from then-No. 15 Colorado for a 71-54 victory on Jan. 12 at Alaska Airlines Arena. Andrew Andrews added 14 points and Nigel Williams-Goss 12 for the Huskies. They trailed 29-25 at halftime and outscored CU 45-25 in the second half. The game turned just before the break when Colorado star Spencer Dinwiddie suffered a season-ending knee injury. The Buffaloes also lost backup guard Tre’shaun Fletcher to a knee injury.
Previous game: Colorado beat Washington State 68-63 on Wednesday at Coors Events Center
PLAYERS TO WATCH:
— Without Dinwiddie, Josh Scott, a 6-10 sophomore forward, has emerged as a candidate for Pac-12 postseason awards. Even before Dinwiddie went down, he was remarkably consistent. In the past six games, he’s scored at least 19 in three contests while collecting two double doubles. However, on Wednesday Washington State held him to just 1 point and 1 rebound in 32 minutes.
It’s been a year under the microscope for Scott who replaced Andre Roberson, a first-round NBA draft pick last year, in the post. Scott averages 13.8 points, which is third on the team, and 8.8 rebounds, which is third in the Pac-12. He’s tied for second in the Pac-12 double-double category with 10. He does a good job drawing fouls (5.8 per game) and shoots 82.1 percent at the line.
Scott had 15 points and six rebounds against Washington last month. The Huskies held him to just eight points and two rebounds in their only meeting last year, a 64-54 CU win at Alaska Airlines Arena.
— Junior Askia Booker is a streaky volume shooter who is considered the X-factor for Colorado. The 6-2 shooting guard has had two incredible offensive performances this season including a 30-foot buzzer beater to defeat then-No. 6 Kansas and a career-high 27-point outing that led CU in a win over then-No. 10 Oregon. He’s also had 10 games where he’s failed to shoot over 35 percent from the field.
Dinwiddie told the Daily Camera: “When Ski plays really well, we play really well. When he’s down, we struggle.”
Without Dinwiddie, Booker has become more of a play maker averaging 4.8 assists in the past six games, which is 2 more than his season average. He’s also scored at least 11 points in every game, including a 21-point performance against UCLA and a 26-point outing Wednesday against Washington State.
Booker is a below-average three-point shooter and yet, he leads CU with 98 attempts behind the arc. He averages 30.6 percent on 3s. He’s extremely athletic with a 42.5 vertical jump. When he drives to the rim, he’s likely to take the shot or draw a foul. He’s taken over 10 shots in 19 games. Booker is pretty good at the free-throw line where he shoots 78.6 percent. He averages 14.0 points, which is first on the team. Booker has won the Pac-12 Player of the Week award twice this season.
In the previous game against Washington, Booker was held scoreless on 0-for-9 shooting. Last year, he fouled out in 34 minutes. He collected seven rebounds, but had just nine points on 3-for-14 shooting. As a freshman, Booker converted 4 of 8 field goals, including three three-pointers for 12 points during an 87-69 CU win at Coors Events Center.
— Losing Dinwiddie was a tremendous blow because he led Colorado in scoring, assists, steals and free throw percentage. He was also a very good three-point shooter. Dinwiddie was projected as a first-round pick in the 2014 NBA draft. However, he said he’s going to return to Colorado next season.
— Freshman guard Jaron Hopkins immediately replaced Dinwiddie in the lineup and started five games. Sophomore guard Xavier Talton started Wednesday in place of Hopkins. They’re adequate replacements, but they’re too inexperienced to replace Dinwiddie’s contributions.
— Sophomore guard Eli Stalzer, freshmen guard Dustin Thomas and freshman guard George King figure prominently in Colorado’s bench production, which has been somewhat sporadic.
— Booker is the only upperclassmen in the nine-man rotation.
— CU was 14-2 and off to its best start since the 1968-69 team before the first game at Washington. Since then, the Buffaloes are 3-4. They’re still in contention for a third straight NCAA tournament appearance. CU is in a three-way tie for fourth place in the Pac-12.
— Colorado is a battle-tested team that’s 2-4 against ranked teams with wins over then-No. 6 Kansas and then-No. 10 Oregon.
— The Buffaloes do an amazing job at drawing fouls, getting to the free-throw line and making shots. They lead the Pac-12 with 628 FT attempts. They’ve made free throws (453) while Washington has taken 515 FT attempts.
— Since leaving the Big 12 and joining the Pac-12 three years ago, Colorado has made significant recruiting inroads in California. Last year, the Buffaloes mined the state of Washington for its first player in 14 years. Colorado signed Fletcher, a 6-7 forward out Tacoma’s Lincoln High, which was a bit of a surprise considering his final five also included: Washington State, UCLA, Arizona State and Oregon State.
— Colorado ranks fourth in the Pac-12 in attendance averaging 10,048 for conference games.
— Under Boyle, Colorado is 55-8 (87.8 percent) at home. The Buffaloes are 14-1 at Coors Events Center this season.
F – Josh Scott, 6-10, 245, So., 13.8 ppg., 8.8 rbg., 1.3 bgp., 53.3 FG%, 82.1 FT%
F – Wesley Gordon, 6-9, 225, Fr., 6.6, 6.6, 1.0 apg., 1.7 spg., 3-9 3-Pters
F – Xavier Johnson, 6-7, 220, So., 10.9, 5.9, 1.0 spg.
G – Xavier Talton, 6-2, 180, So., 3.8, 1.6, 1.6 apg., 15.7 min., 73.7 FT%
G – Askia Booker, 6-2, 170, Jr., 14.0, 3.0, 2.8 apg., 1.5 spg., 2.3 tpg., 30.6 3-FG%