WASHINGTON STATE (12-7) AT #23 COLORADO (14-4)
10 p.m. ET; PAC12
No. 23 Colorado has passed plenty of tests in what has been one of the best seasons under head coach Tad Boyle and the challenges keep coming.
Next up will be one of the toughest when the Buffaloes are tasked with stopping the Washington State duo of CJ Elleby and Isaac Bonton when they play host to the Cougars in a Pac-12 Conference matchup on Thursday in Boulder.
The Cougars (12-7, 3-3 Pac-12) are coming off a pair of impressive home wins against No. 8 Oregon and Oregon State.
Elleby led the way in Washington State’s first win over a top-10 school since 2007 with 25 points and 14 rebounds against the Ducks and then added 22 points and nine rebounds in a win over the Beavers a couple of days later.
Bonton, not to be outdone, had 34 points, eight rebounds and eight assists against Oregon State, giving the Cougars a modest two-game winning streak.
Elleby leads the team in scoring (18.9 points) and rebounds (7.2), while Bonton is averaging 14.6 points and a team-best 3.6 assists.
“He can just make plays with the ball,” Elleby said of Bonton after the win over the Beavers. “When you can do that and create so much, not only for yourself but for your teammates, you’re always a threat on the floor. Just to be able to have that kind of teammate, who can put pressure on the defense, I take us any game.”
The Buffaloes (14-4, 3-2) have some tough matchups as well with a more balanced scoring attack. Guard McKinley Wright IV leads the team in points (13.5) and assists (5.0) and is third on the team in rebounding (5.3) despite his 6-foot frame.
Tyler Bey is second on the team in scoring at 13.1 points a game and leads the team in rebound at 9.3 per outing, while D’Shawn Schwartz (10.7 points) gives Colorado three double-digit scorers.
Evan Battey is also a force at 9.1 points and 6.5 rebounds, but he had just one rebound in a 75-54 defeat at Arizona on Saturday. That was a point of emphasis for Boyle after the loss.
“We pride ourselves on defense and rebounding, and we didn’t do either one tonight,” Boyle told reporters. “Minus-14 on the boards, that hasn’t happened in a long time. We’ve been beat, but not like that. I thought the better offensive team won tonight. I’ve got to do a better job of helping our guys.”
“The disappointing thing about the Arizona loss after watching the tape is that I just didn’t feel like we competed as hard we needed to. That’s disheartening. Very surprising, and disappointing. I haven’t lost faith in them by any means. I know this is a competitive group. But for whatever reason, we didn’t want to compete with Arizona on Saturday. We didn’t. We have to live with that.”
Colorado stayed in the rankings despite the loss to the Wildcats and set a program record for the most weeks ranked in a single season at eight. A sweep of the Washington schools will ensure the Buffaloes make it nine weeks.
–Field Level Media