After a 6-0 start, Colorado has hit a rough patch, losing three of its last four games, including back-to-back double-digit defeats to Xavier (96-69) and San Diego (69-59). The Buffaloes will try to get back on track Friday night when they host standout Mike Daum and South Dakota State in their non-conference home finale.
Losing on the road to the ninth-ranked Musketeers last Saturday is understandable, but more perplexing was Colorado’s home loss to the visiting Toreros on Tuesday as the Buffaloes shot a season-low 25.9 percent from the field. It was Colorado’s worst field-goal percentage in its own Coors Events Center which opened in 1979. A home game against the dangerous Jackrabbits and a neutral-site contest against Iowa are all that remain for the Buffaloes before they tip off Pac-12 play Dec. 29 at Oregon State. “We have to control the things we can control,” Colorado coach Tad Boyle said in his post-game news conference. “We can’t control whether the ball goes in, but we can control how we react, our effort, our fight and our competitiveness.”
TV: 8 p.m. ET, Pac-12 Network
ABOUT SOUTH DAKOTA STATE (9-4): The Jackrabbits have won six of their last eight contests, including road/neutral site wins over Power Five foes Iowa (80-72) and Ole Miss (99-97 in overtime). The 6-9, 250-pound Daum, a 2016-17 Associated Press honorable-mention All-American and Division I’s top returning scorer, has picked up where he left off, averaging 20 points and 7.5 rebounds while connecting on a team-high 33 3-pointers in 86 attempts. David Jenkins Jr. (13.8 points) and Reed Tellinghuisen (11.9) also have double-digit scoring averages for South Dakota State, which is putting up 82.4 points per outing.
ABOUT COLORADO (7-3): In a season where the Buffaloes have struggled of late, freshman point guard McKinley Wright hasn’t wavered, averaging a team-best 15.3 points and 3.9 assists while scoring in double figures in every outing. Senior swingman George King (14.4 points, team-leading 9.0 rebounds) and guard Namon Wright (11.7 points) also are averaging double figures, but those three are the only Colorado players averaging more than seven points. The Buffaloes are outrebounding the opposition by an average of 6.6 per game but have struggled from 3-point range (31.9 percent) and have 144 turnovers to only 114 assists.
1. Colorado leads the series 2-0 - with both games in Boulder - but the two teams haven’t met since 2005.
2. The Buffaloes are 6-0 when they outrebound the opposition so far this season and 1-3 when they don’t.
3. South Dakota State ranks second nationally with 140 made 3-pointers, and the Jackrabbits are 22nd with their 41.1-percent accuracy rate beyond the arc.
PREDICTION: Colorado 76, South Dakota State 73