Colorado has yet to win a true road game and nowopens Pac-12 play with four of its first six away from Boulder. Thatchallenging stretch begins Friday night when the Buffaloes visit Oregon State.
In compiling an 8-4 nonconference record,Colorado is a combined 8-2 in home/neutral-site contests but 0-2 on the roadwith one-sided losses against Xavier (96-69) and Colorado State (72-63). “Thelevel of play goes up when conference play happens, much like the level of playgoes up in the postseason,” Buffaloes coach Tad Boyle said in a post-practicenews conference Wednesday. “They (the Colorado players) need to understandthat. … When we do what we’re supposed to do, the wins and losses take care ofthemselves. I’m still getting our young guys to figure that out and our olderguys to impart their sense of urgency.” The Beavers, meanwhile, also went 8-4in non-league play with a 7-1 record at home and a 1-3 mark inroad/neutral-site contests.
TV: 11 p.m. ET, ESPNU
ABOUT COLORADO (8-4, 0-0 Pac-12): Boyle’sBuffaloes roared out to a 6-0 start, but have since dropped four of their lastsix games, beating only 6-8 New Mexico (75-57) and outlasting visiting SouthDakota State 112-103 in double overtime. Freshman point guard McKinley WrightIV has been a revelation as he’s scored in double figures in all 12 games sofar and is pacing the team in scoring (17 points per game), assists (4.7),steals (1.3), blocked shots (0.8), field-goal percentage (50.7) and 3-pointpercentage (41.0) while ranking second in rebounding (5.2). Senior swingmanGeorge King (14.3 points) and guard Namon Wright (11.6) are the only otherplayers averaging double figures for the Buffaloes who rank in the Pac-12’sbottom half in scoring (76.8), field-goal percentage (45.4), 3-point percentage(33.1) and free-throw percentage (71.9).
ABOUT OREGON STATE (8-4, 0-0): After a 2-3 start,the Beavers had won six straight before a 79-78 road loss at Kent State on Dec.21 – their last game before Friday’s conference opener. The return of sophomoreforward Tres Tinkle has been huge for Oregon State after he missed all but sixgames with a wrist fracture a season ago and is currently is pacing the squadwith 18.2 points, 7.2 rebounds and 1.5 steals while averaging 3.2 assists andshooting 83.9 percent from the free-throw line. Starting guards and brothers StephenThompson Jr. (16.3 points) and Ethan Thompson (10.3) and forward Drew Eubanks(14.6) also are averaging double figures for the Beavers, who are averaging80.1 points and shooting 51.9 percent from the floor at home this season.
1. Colorado leads the series 14-6 after 85-78 and60-52 wins a year ago. The latter game, played on Feb. 16, also stands as the lasttrue road win for the Buffaloes who have lost four straight since.
2. Oregon State ranks second in the Pac-12 inscoring defense (70.2 points allowed per game) and steals (6.9).
3. Beavers reserve C Gligorije Rakocevic missedthe Kent State game with a calf injury and his status is uncertain for Friday.
PREDICTION: Oregon State 79, Colorado 76