Coach Tad Boyle is going to make sure No. 23 Colorado doesn’t overlook Washington on Saturday.
The Buffaloes (15-4 overall, 4-2 Pac-12) had barely completed a 78-56 victory against visiting Washington State on Thursday night in Boulder, Colo., when Boyle started talking up the Huskies.
“Wait until you see these guys. They look like an NBA team walking in,” Boyle said. “They are long, athletic, physical, and play the zone.”
A month ago, Washington was ranked No. 21 heading into the championship game of the Diamond Head Classic in Hawaii. The Huskies suffered a 75-71 loss against Houston in that game and haven’t quite recovered.
Despite holding a plus-25 point differential in their seven Pac-12 games, the Huskies (12-8, 2-5) are tied for last place.
Washington has blown double-digit leads in the second half of each of its past two games, including a 67-66 defeat Thursday at Utah, as the Utes took their only lead of the second half on two free throws with 14 seconds to play.
“It’s frustrating because we had control of all of these games,” UW coach Mike Hopkins said. “A selfish shot here. A selfish play here. A turnover here. A missed foul shot here. You can’t win at a high level making those plays near the end of games. You just can’t.”
The Huskies are 1-4 since sophomore point guard Quade Green, a transfer from Kentucky, was ruled academically ineligible.
Washington still has plenty of star power in freshman forwards Isaiah Stewart and Jaden McDaniels, both McDonald’s All-Americans in high school and considered likely first-round NBA draft picks this summer. Stewart is averaging a team-high 18.3 points and 9.0 rebounds per game and McDaniels is second in both categories with 13.1 points and 6.4 rebounds.
Colorado beat WSU without junior swingman Tyler Bey, who averages 13.1 points and a conference-leading 9.3 rebounds per game. Bey sat out with the middle two fingers on his right hand taped together, but Boyle said he’ll play Saturday.
Senior Lucas Siewert made his first start of the season in place of Bey and had 16 points and 10 rebounds. Teammates Evan Battey (12 points, 10 rebounds) and point guard McKinley Wright IV (10 points, 10 assists) also had double-doubles.
“We knew Tyler averages nine-plus rebounds a game, so we weren’t going to have those tonight, so coach told me, even Tyler told me, to come out aggressive,” Siewert said. “I’ve started before so it wasn’t anything new, but yeah it was a little bit of an adjustment.”
The Buffaloes have lost five in a row to Washington, including three last season — two regular-season games and in the Pac-12 tournament semifinals. The only Colorado player to have defeated the Huskies is Siewert, who did so as a freshman.
“They are a very talented team. They are a well-coached team. They are young, though,” Boyle said of the Huskies. “Not having their point guard … we went through that last year with Deleon Brown. I feel for Mike (Hopkins) and their team for that happening but that is the way it goes. They are a talented group. We have to be ready for them.”
–Field Level Media