CU men's hoops preview
TODAY: The Colorado Buffaloes (18-6, 7-4 Pac-12) visit the UCLA Bruins (18-5, 7-3) in a 7 p.m. MDT game at Pauley Pavilion in Los Angeles.
Radio -- KOA (850 AM), with Mark Johnson on play-by-play and Scott Wilke providing color commentary. TV - ESPN2, with Dave Pasch and Bill Walton on the call.
STORYLINES: CU has won three games in a row, all at home. ... CU has had six three-game win streaks in Pac-12 regular season play since joining the conference in 2011-12, but its only four-game win streak came during its 4-0 run to the Pac-12 Tournament title in 2012. ... The Buffs' last regular season conference win streak of at least four games was a five-game streak in 2005-06. ... The Buffs have the longest current win streak in the Pac-12. ... UCLA won the first meeting with the Buffs, 69-56 on Jan. 16 in Boulder. That was CU's first full game without Spencer Dinwiddie. Askia Booker and Josh Scott combined for 40 points for CU, while Jordan Adams had 14 points and 13 rebounds for UCLA. ... UCLA is 13-1 at home this season, the only loss coming to then-No. 1 Arizona, 79-75, on Jan. 9. ... The Buffs are 3-5 on the road this season, 1-5 when leaving the state. ... In Tad Boyle's four seasons, the Buffs are 26-3 - including 6-0 this season - when dishing out at least 15 assists. ... In three career meetings with UCLA, Booker has averaged 17.3 points while hitting 51.4 percent of his shots (61.5 percent from 3-point range). ... Scott has averaged 18.5 points and 9.0 rebounds in two games against the Bruins. ... UCLA's Travis Wear has posted 13.7 points and 5.3 boards per game in three meetings with CU. ... CU has played at Pauley Pavilion just once, a 104-70 loss on Dec. 2, 1977.
KEY STAT: In the first meeting, UCLA scored 20 points off of 17 CU turnovers. The Buffs had just seven points off 11 Bruins turnovers.
COACHES: Tad Boyle is 87-44 in his fourth season at CU and 143-110 for his career. Steve Alford is 18-5 in his first season at UCLA and 480-239 for his career.
Colorado -- G Xavier Talton, 6-2, So. (4.0 ppg, 1.7 rpg, 1.6 apg); G Askia Booker, 6-2, Jr. (14.2 ppg, 3.3 rpg, 3.0 apg); F Wesley Gordon, 6-9, Fr. (6.6 ppg, 6.6 rpg, 1.7 bpg); F Xavier Johnson, 6-7, So. (11.6 ppg, 6.1 rpg); F Josh Scott, 6-10, So. (14.1 ppg, 8.8 rpg, 1.3 bpg). UCLA - G Jordan Adams, 6-5, So. (16.8 ppg, 5.7 rpg, 2.9 spg); G Norman Powell, 6-4, Jr. (11.4 ppg, 2.8 rpg); G/F Kyle Anderson, 6-9, So. (15.1 ppg, 8.7 rpg, 6.6 apg); F David Wear, 6-10, Sr. (7.4 ppg, 4.2 rpg); F Travis Wear, 6-10, Sr. (6.0 ppg, 3.1 rpg).
SERIES: UCLA leads 7-1, including 5-0 in Los Angeles. CU's lone win in the series came on Dec. 7, 1962, at Balch Fieldhouse in Boulder.
UP NEXT: CU will visit USC on Sunday at 6 p.m.
The results have shown that the Colorado men's basketball team is a much different squad at home than it is on the road.
The Buffaloes are 15-1 at Coors Events Center, and 17-1 when playing in the Centennial State. When they hop on an airplane, however, the Buffs are just 1-5, and needed overtime to get that one win.
CU head coach Tad Boyle said he doesn't really buy into the theory that his team is different on the road, but he knows they do need to start winning games away from Coors Events Center.
"We still have five road games to pick up some wins and prove ourselves," Boyle said. "I look at it as an opportunity to get better, an opportunity to improve our results and our performance."
The Buffs (18-6, 7-4 Pac-12) will get another chance Thursday when they visit UCLA (18-5, 7-3). Beginning with that game, the Buffs will play five of their final seven regular season games on the road.
"We feel like we have to prove ourselves on the road now," freshman Dustin Thomas said. "That last road trip wasn't that good, so that's going to push us to go harder. We have to prove people wrong."
CU's last road game was perhaps its worst game of the season. The Buffs were blown out at Arizona State, 72-51. That came two days after a loss at then-No. 1 Arizona. The Buffs played well during the second half against Arizona, but fell behind 9-0 and 18-4 early in that game and never fully recovered.
Boyle always preaches his principles of rebounding and defense, and the Buffs weren't very good at either one on that trip.
"If you do that, you keep yourself in the game," Boyle said. "You give yourself a chance down the stretch to get a win. If you don't, you better be making shots. It's a little tougher to make shots on the road. You can't rely on making shots.
"In our conference, if you don't defend and you don't rebound, you've got no chance."
Poor rebounding also hurt the Buffs in the first meeting with UCLA, on Jan. 16. The Bruins out-rebounded CU 41-37, with guard Jordan Adams getting a career-high 13 boards, including six on the offensive glass.
Boyle said Adams was "the key that night" to UCLA's win and said the Buffs will try to keep bigger defenders - such as Xavier Johnson, Jaron Hopkins or George King - on Adams this time around.
"If our little guards get switched on him, we better fight better than we did when they were in our building," Boyle said.
Riding a three-game win streak as they head to Los Angeles, the Buffs believe they can keep their win streak going this week.
"Just keeping our confidence, our competitiveness and keep playing defense the way we're playing defense," Thomas said of the key to success this week. "If we keep it together, we'll be in real good shape."
With 18 wins already and ranked No. 25 by realtimerpi.com, the Buffaloes are a contender to reach the NCAA Tournament this year. CU is not a lock, however, and could use some good wins down the stretch.
Facing UCLA (No. 17 RPI), Arizona State (No. 39), Arizona (No. 2), Stanford (No. 44) and California (No. 52) gives CU plenty of chances to get those good wins.
Boyle said he isn't worried about CU's resume at this point, though.
"It's no different this year than year's past," he said. "You get in mid-February, every game there's a spotlight on it. You can look at it any which way you want in terms of NCAA Tournament implications, but we're not focused on that. We're just focused on performing the best we can, possession by possession."
Four players on CU's roster are from the Los Angeles area, including Johnson and Eli Stalzer, who went to Mater Dei High School. Three Bruins also went to Mater Dei: David Brown, David Wear and Travis Wear.
"My whole family is coming and it's going to be fun seeing them, and I'm good friends with a lot of the guys on UCLA's team," Stalzer said. "Half of them went to my high school. It's always fun going back home."
Stalzer didn't go to a lot of college basketball games growing up, but he has seen several games at Pauley Pavilion. This will be his first time there since it was renovated, though.
"I'm excited to see how that's turned out," he said.