No. 20 Colorado expects challenge from Loyola Marymount

NCAA Basketball

Colorado basketball coach Tad Boyle sat in the postgame press conference on Saturday night and apologized to the fans who braved the cold to watch his team.

And that came after a 14-point victory.

Expectations have definitely risen in Boulder, Colo., and Boyle isn’t ready to give the Buffaloes an excuse even when they finds a way to win as they did against Sacramento State. Those expectations are only growing now that Colorado has moved up to 20th in the latest AP poll, its highest ranking in nearly six years.

That new status will be tested when the Buffaloes host Loyola Marymount on Wednesday night. The Lions (3-4) are coming off a 61-51 win over Southern Utah on Saturday night and are looking for the upset of the Buffaloes.

Loyola Marymount’s task might be tougher after Colorado’s close win Saturday seemed to wake up the Buffaloes (6-0).

“When you’re a ranked team, you got that number next to your name and people talking about you a little bit, other teams take that on as a challenge,” Boyle said after a 59-45 decision Saturday. “Other teams come in and say, ‘OK, what can we do to put ourselves on the map?’ Beating Colorado in Boulder is one way to do it. We have to understand that. I think our guys are figuring that out. We didn’t play offensively like that tonight, but Loyola Marymount is a capable team.”

The Buffaloes are led by Tyler Bey (14.2 points a game), McKinley Wright IV (11.8) and D’Shawn Schwartz (11.7). Bey also leads the team with 12.5 rebounds a game.

Wright is the motor that keeps the team going, but he has struggled with his shot of late. He has hit just 9 of 27 shooting the last three games, but he has helped out in other ways.

Colorado will need him to put the brakes on the turnover problem that plagued the team on Saturday night. The Buffaloes gave the ball way 19 times but relied on a strong defense to win that game.

“We had 19 turnovers; that’s terrible,” Wright said Saturday night. “But we got a win, so there’s nothing to be mad about, but we need to be better for teams coming down the stretch. Loyola Marymount is a pretty good team; they will come in here and try to beat us. It’s my job and (Bey’s) job to take control of the team and make sure we get off to better starts.”

The Lions are led in scoring by Ivan Alipiev. The sophomore out of Bulgaria is averaging 13 points a game while junior Eli Scott is putting up 12.9 a game. Those are the only two averaging in double figures for Loyola Marymount.

The Lions will need to find more scoring if they’re going to pull off the upset. Junior Parker Dortch has shown he can be that guy at times, and his offense was key to the win over Southern Utah. He scored 17 points off the bench, the second time this season he has hit that mark but he’s averaging just 5.8 points in the other five games.

–Field Level Media

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