INDIANAPOLIS — Typically this season, Colorado’s so-called X-factor usually is either D’Shawn Schwartz or Evan Battey. If one of those veterans has a big game, the Buffaloes usually fare well.
Going into Monday’s second-round battle in the NCAA Tournament against Florida State (5:45 p.m. MT, TBS), that player might instead be senior Jeriah Horne.
The graduate transfer from Tulsa has proven to be a wonderful addition to the Buffs this season. But the torrid 3-point touch he has brought to the floor has evaporated over the past two games. His .408 mark from 3-point range currently ranks as the sixth-best single-season mark in program history, but he went 0-for-5 from long range in the Pac-12 Conference title game loss against Oregon State and followed with an 0-for-4 showing on 3-pointers in the first-round win against Georgetown.
Horne shot 3-for-17 overall in those two games, but head coach Tad Boyle is confident those struggles won’t continue.
“I’ve got tremendous confidence in Jeriah. As his teammates do,” Boyle said. “And Jeriah has confidence in himself. Yeah, his shot hasn’t been going in here the last couple games, but that’s not going to happen very long. He was getting off the bus (Saturday) and I tapped him on the shoulder and told him he’s due.
“The biggest thing I’ve tried to emphasize with Jeriah—and any player, even a minute level, it’s only been two games — I remember Carlon Brown when he was struggling midway through his senior year (in 2012), what are you doing to help this team to win games when you’re not scoring the ball? Because Jeriah has the ability to do that. And for him, it’s rebound the ball, which he’s done a good job of. He’s one of our best defensive rebounders. It’s getting us extra possessions with offensive rebounds. It’s spacing the floor. Moving the ball, setting screens. There’s a lot of things you can do.”
Schwartz believed he needed a big game against Georgetown in order to reach the career 1,000-point mark. And a big game is exactly what Schwartz delivered, matching a season-high with 18 points while matching a career-high with five 3-pointers.
The Colorado Springs native became the 37th member of CU’s 1,000-point club, but he was much closer to that milestone than he believed.
“I thought I was a little further than I was,” said Schwartz, who entered the game with 995 points and surpassed Andre Roberson for 36th on the all-time scoring list. “I thought I was at 984 or something like that. I thought I needed 16 but I only needed five. It’s good to have that mentality going in, like we’ve got to keep winning so I can keep getting those.
“It’s been big. A lot of people congratulated me that have helped me along the way, so that’s meant a lot. I had it in the back of my mind but I wanted to make sure I didn’t force it. If it came, it came, and it did. So that’s great.”
Schwartz needs eight points to surpass Chauncey Billups for 35th on the all-time scoring list.
After playing the bulk of the season without any fans in the stands at all, the Buffs were appreciative of the fan support Saturday at Hinkle Fieldhouse, where Buffs Nation made its presence known.
“It meant a lot,” Boyle said. “You could hear them. You could feel them. I know our guys really appreciated it. I thought it was really cool they stayed out on the floor and sang the fight song with the fans.
“There was just a portion of Buffs Nation there, but we appreciate all of them.”
If Monday’s game goes into overtime, the Buffs might be in trouble. Florida State owns an NCAA record-tying streak of 11 consecutive overtime wins…Boyle mentioned Josh Scott, Chris Copeland, and Jay Humphries as the former Buffs who reached out to offer congratulations after Saturday’s win…Florida State held its first round foe, UNC Greensboro, to a .317 mark from the field and a 7-for-27 showing on 3-pointers…Jabari Walker’s father, former NBA player Samaki Walker, hit all of four 3-pointers throughout his entire college and NBA career. Jabari Walker hit five against Georgetown and his shooting a.548 (23-for-42) from long range this season.