CU men's hoops preview
TODAY: The Colorado Buffaloes (19-7, 8-5 Pac-12) host the Arizona State Sun Devils (19-6, 8-4) in a 9 p.m. MDT game at Coors Events Center in Boulder.
Radio -- KOA (850 AM), with Mark Johnson on play-by-play and Scott Wilke providing color commentary. TV - ESPNU, with Beth Mowins and Jon Crispin on the call.
STORYLINES: CU is 4-1 in its last five games after defeating Southern Cal, 83-74, on Sunday. ... Arizona State is 7-1 in its last eight games, including a double-overtime upset of then-No. 2 Arizona, on Friday. ... ASU sits just outside the AP Top 25 this week. The Sun Devils had the 27th-most votes. ... Arizona State won the last meeting with CU, 72-51 in Tempe, Ariz., on Jan. 25. Jahii Carson had 18 points for the Sun Devils, while Josh Scott had 11 points and seven rebounds. ... CU is seeking its fourth consecutive 20-win season. ... ASU is seeking just the fifth 20-win season in its history. ... ASU has had three different players win Pac-12 player of the week honors - Jahii Carson (Nov. 25), Jordan Bachynski (Feb. 10) and Jermaine Marshall (Feb. 17). ... During conference play, Carson is second in the Pac-12 in scoring (18.4 points per game) and Marshall is ninth (17.0). CU's Askia Booker is 11th (16.2). ... During his career, CU's Askia Booker has averaged 12.0 points and 2.0 assists, while shooting 46.9 percent, in five games against ASU. ... Xavier Johnson has averaged 18.4 points and 8.4 rebounds in the last five games. Booker has posted 19.6 points, 7.4 assists and 5.0 rebounds during that time.
KEY STAT: During Pac-12 play, CU has the second-best rebounding margin in the league (plus-3.3), while ASU is 10th (minus-2.7). However, the Buffs have been out-rebounded by 10 and six rebounds the last two games - their two largest negative margins of the season.
COACHES: Tad Boyle is 88-45 in his fourth season at CU and 144-111 for his career. Herb Sendek is 139-115 in his eighth season at ASU and 393-273 for his career.
Colorado -- G Xavier Talton, 6-2, So. (4.7 ppg, 1.9 rpg, 1.6 apg); G Askia Booker, 6-2, Jr. (14.4 ppg, 3.4 rpg, 3.5 apg); F Dustin Thomas, 6-7, Fr. (3.6 ppg, 2.6 rpg); F Xavier Johnson, 6-7, So. (12.0 ppg, 6.1 rpg); F Josh Scott, 6-10, So. (14.5 ppg, 8.6 rpg, 1.2 bpg). Arizona State - G Jahii Carson, 5-10, So. (18.9 ppg, 4.3 rpg, 4.8 apg); G Jermaine Marshall, 6-4, Sr. (16.2 ppg, 3.1 rpg); G Shaquielle McKissic, 6-3, Sr. (8.6 ppg, 5.2 rpg); F Eric Jacobsen, 6-10, So. (2.6 ppg, 2.1 rpg); C Jordan Bachynski, 7-2, Sr. (12.2 ppg, 9.0 rpg, 4.6 bpg).
SERIES: ASU leads 5-4 and has won the last three meetings. CU is 2-1 against the Sun Devils in Boulder
UP NEXT: CU will host Arizona on Saturday at 7 p.m.
There's no question that a good chunk of Colorado basketball fans are looking forward to Saturday's showdown with No. 4 Arizona.
The Buffaloes aren't worried about that one, though. Not yet.
CU (19-7, 8-5 Pac-12) has a huge game Wednesday night, when Arizona State (19-6, 8-4) pays a visit to the Coors Events Center for a 9 p.m. game.
"We've got our work cut out for us on Wednesday night," CU head coach Tad Boyle said. "They're a very physical team, very well-coached team. They're smart and they've got good balance. There are not a lot of weaknesses with them."
The Buffs know that too well. Arizona State has won three in a row against CU, including a 72-51 rout on Jan. 25 in Tempe, Ariz. That was one of CU's worst games of the season.
"We didn't play well," sophomore Josh Scott said. "Defensively we didn't play well. Offensively we didn't play well. You don't want to make excuses, but we were still at that point trying to get adjusted offensively and defensively to life without Spencer (Dinwiddie) and (Tre'Shaun Fletcher). We've learned a lot since then and it helps that we're at home, but we're also a different team than we were three weeks ago."
CU is 4-1 since that loss to the Sun Devils, but ASU is 7-1 in its last seven games, the only loss coming at Stanford.
"It's a big game for us and it's time to get some revenge on our home court," Scott said.
Regardless of the opponent, this is a big one for CU because it continues to look for ways to build upon its NCAA Tournament resume.
The Buffs are on the verge of their second consecutive 20-win regular season; they had just two 20-win regular seasons before last year, in 1968-69 and 1996-97.
Ranked No. 27 by realtimepri.com, the Buffs could use a win against a good team, and Arizona State, ranked No. 28 in RPI, certainly qualifies.
Boyle said his team isn't concerned with its NCAA profile, however.
"The message for our team is we've got to figure out how to win the next game," he said. "We're not concerned about Bracketology, we're not concerned about the NCAA Tournament, we're not concerned about RPIs. We're not concerned about any of that stuff.
"We talk about what is it going to take to win the next game?"
To beat the Sun Devils, the Buffs will have to find a way to slow down one of the top point guards in the country, Jahii Carson. They also need to figure out how to get shots in the bucket over and around the nation's best shot blocker, Jordan Bachynski.
Aside from those two, the Sun Devils feature senior transfer Jermaine Marshall, who was still hobbled by a groin injury when the teams met last month. He had just eight points against the Buffs in that game, but is averaging 22 points in the five games since.
Jonathan Gilling had 12 points off the bench against the Buffs last month.
The Buffs have their own group of players stepping up lately. Askia Booker, Scott and Xavier Johnson have anchored the offense, while Xavier Talton, Jaron Hopkins and Dustin Thomas have filled significant roles, too.
Calling all fans
A reporter pointed out to Boyle on Tuesday that in a poll of CU students, most said they were more interested in attending Saturday's game against Arizona rather than Wednesday's game against the Sun Devils.
"What I would tell the students is they are equally important (games)," Boyle said. "If our students want to be considered as one of the best student sections in the country, which I think they want, then it doesn't' matter who we play and it doesn't matter when we play.
"If we want to be considered one of the top programs in the country, we have to play well every time we step on the floor and our student section has to be full."
Forward Wesley Gordon (twisted ankle) is expected to play Wednesday. He missed two games and then playing sparingly Sunday at Southern Cal. ... Freshman Tre'Shaun Fletcher (knee) is not ready to return to the court, Boyle said.