Colorado is riding high off its Paradise Jam championship and tries for its sixth straight victory to open the season when it hosts Air Force on Sunday. The Buffaloes defeated Mercer in the title game 79-70 on Nov. 19 behind 25 points and eight rebounds from senior guard George King, who is a key cog in a Colorado unit that has quickly meshed despite having 10 underclassmen on its 15-man roster.
“This is a together group,” Buffaloes coach Tad Boyle told reporters. “They’re a team. They’re not caring about themselves, there’s no hidden agendas. If we can maintain that, we can play with anybody in the country. It’s one game at a time, but I really like this team.” Colorado freshman point guard McKinley Wright IV leads the team in scoring (15.0 points per game) and assists (4.6) while adding 4.2 rebounds. Wright is also directly responsible for the Buffaloes’ perfect start as his 3-pointer at the buzzer gave Colorado a 70-69 victory over Quinnipiac in the first round of the Paradise Jam. The Falcons, who were voted to finish last in the Mountain West Conference preseason poll, are coming off their first loss — 83-71 on Tuesday to Pacific — and hit the road for the first time this season.
TV: 4 p.m. ET, Pac-12 Network
ABOUT AIR FORCE (3-1): Senior forward Ryan Manning (12.8 points. 4.5 rebounds) was held to nine points by Pacific after scoring a total of 35 in victories over Arkansas-Pine Bluff (57-47) on Monday and Canisius (93-79) on Nov. 14. Senior guard Trevor Lyons (12.0 points, team-high 5.8 rebounds, 3.8 assists) has reached double figures in scoring in all four games this season after recording 12 points, five assists, four rebounds and three steals Tuesday. Junior guard Pervis Louder, who scored 13 points in the season-opening 65-57 victory over Texas State, has missed the last three games with an ankle injury.
ABOUT COLORADO (5-0): Junior guard Namon Wright is the Buffaloes’ third-leading scorer at 13.8 points per game after averaging 15.5 in his last four contests. Sophomore guard Deleon Brown (8.0 points) matched a season high with 13 versus Mercer while senior forward Tory Miller-Stewart (7.0 points, 4.2 rebounds) is 11-for-17 from the field this season. Lucas Siewert (6.5 points, 5.0 rebounds in 19.5 minutes), a 6-10 sophomore forward, will miss his second second straight game because of a foot injury sustained in the 86-81 victory over Drake on Nov. 18, but Boyle is hopeful the Brazilian can play at Colorado State on Saturday.
1. The Buffaloes are plus-7.5 in rebounding margin, and limit opponents to 29.5 percent shooting from 3-point range.
2. Air Force was fourth nationally through Friday’s games in free-throw percentage at 82.8 with sophomore F Lavelle Scottie (14-for-14) and Manning (12-12) perfect on the season.
3. Colorado has won seven straight meetings, including 75-68 last season, and leads the series 23-3.
PREDICTION: Colorado 80, Air Force 58