EUGENE, Ore. — Given the Colorado Buffaloes and Oregon have met just once in each of the previous two seasons, with no matchups at the Pac-12 Conference tournament, basketball fans have been treated to precious few showdowns between two of the premier point guards in the nation.
Unless the Ducks and Buffs meet again in this year’s Pac-12 tourney, the teams’ Thursday night, top-20 showdown at Oregon (7 p.m. MT, ESPN), will be the last time CU’s McKinley Wright squares off against the Ducks’ Payton Pritchard.
“I know how much that matchup means to both of them,” CU head coach Tad Boyle said. “McKinley I know respects Payton Pritchard and his game. But I also know he relishes the opportunity to play against him. I don’t want to speak for Payton Pritchard, but my guess is he’s the same. Payton I think has respect for McKinley and he relishes the opportunity to go up against him, another good guard. That matchup is important.
“I wouldn’t trade McKinley Wright for anybody. My guess is Dana Altman probably wouldn’t trade Payton Pritchard for anybody. That’s the way it should be. That’s going to be an interesting matchup. It was a good matchup here (in January). The thing I know about McKinley is he is going to compete.”
In three previous matchups, Wright and Pritchard have scored exactly 43 points apiece, an average of 14.3 per game. Pritchard has enjoyed a slight edge in shooting percentage — .441 to .433. But Wright has posted a slight advantage in ball-handling, with his 17 assists and eight turnovers outdueling Pritchard’s eight assists and five turnovers.
Bey’s big night
It could be a big night for CU junior forward Tyler Bey, who needs just four points to become the 36th Buffs player to reach the 1,000-point mark in his career.
Additionally, with just two rebounds, Bey will pass Vince Kelley for eighth-place on CU’s career list. Bey also goes into Thursday’s game at No. 17 Oregon with 96 career blocked shots, and with two more he will match Rodell Guest for 10th-place among the Buffs’ all-time leaders.
Until this season, the Buffs had not participated in a ranked-versus-ranked matchup since the 2013-14 season, but Thursday’s match at No. 17 Oregon will be the second one of the season for No. 16 CU. The Buffs were ranked 20th when the lost at second-ranked Kansas on Dec. 7. CU was unranked when it knocked off No. 13 Dayton on Dec. 21 in Chicago and also was unranked when it beat Oregon, then ranked fourth, in Boulder on Jan. 2. Arizona was unranked when the 20th-ranked Buffs lost in Tucson on Jan. 18.