No. 24 Colorado heads to rival Colorado State on Friday looking to avoid a three-game losing skid.
The Buffaloes (7-2) were one of eight previously undefeated teams who lost last weekend, but the 72-58 setback at former Big 8 and Big 12 Conference counterpart Kansas was somewhat expected.
“It’s not like our team to take 34 of 60 shots from 3(-point range),” Colorado coach Tad Boyle said in his postgame press conference of the Buffs’ 7-of-34 shooting from deep. “But sometimes KU makes you do things you don’t want to do.”
More surprising was Colorado’s return home to a 79-76 loss to Northern Iowa on Tuesday. The Buffs shot 50 percent (10 of 20) from long range and were 16 of 18 from the foul line, but still lost as a result of their season-worst defensive effort.
Northern Iowa shot a blistering 53.8 percent (14 of 26) from 3-point territory and had a pair of 20-point scorers.
“We’ve seen everything that they ran. We saw it on film. We didn’t execute our game plan,” Colorado guard McKinley Wright IV said after the game. “We didn’t execute our personnel. We were close enough, hard on drivers, let them get to the paint and get easy dunk(s).”
Surrendering 70-plus points in back-to-back games dinged its standing, but Colorado comes into Fort Collins still rated No. 27 nationally in adjusted defensive efficiency per KenPom.com advanced metrics.
Colorado State (7-5) boasts a top 100 ranking in a variety of offensive categories, including a 35.6-percent clip from 3-point range and 53.3 percent shooting from inside the arc.
The Rams also excel at drawing fouls, a byproduct of attacking the interior with 6-foot-11 center Nico Carvacho. He is averaging just shy of a double-double with 13.3 points and 9.9 rebounds per game, both team highs.
He recorded 12 points and 12 rebounds in a 72-68 victory on Tuesday night against South Dakota State. But Adam Thistlewood was the hero in that game, sinking a late 3-pointer that gave the Rams breathing room down the stretch.
The win snapped a two-game skid, after Colorado State opened Mountain West Conference play with losses to San Diego State and at Boise State.
“The experience of those last two games and how bad those hurt, we took it personal,” Thistlewood said after Tuesday’s win. “A little extra experience got us through this one tonight.”
Experience helps shape Friday’s contest. Although Carvacho is a senior, Colorado State features a variety of first- and second-year contributors: freshman guards Isaiah Stevens and David Roddy, and sophomores Thistlewood and Kendle Moore on the perimeter.
Colorado’s three double-digit-point scorers — Tyler Bey, D’Shawn Schwartz and Wright — are all juniors. The Buffs counter the veteran interior presence of Carvacho with Bey, who is averaging 13.0 points and 11.0 rebounds per game.
With the additional support of 6-foot-10 senior center Lucas Siewert, who is averaging 7.4 points and 5.0 boards per game off the bench, the Buffs will have a distinct experience edge.
–Field Level Media