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Point guard Keeshawn Barthelemy and the CU Buffs host Cal State Bakersfield on Saturday. (Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)
Point guard Keeshawn Barthelemy and the CU Buffs host Cal State Bakersfield on Saturday. (Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)
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On the surface of it, rebounding shouldn’t be an issue in this one.

The Colorado men’s basketball team returns from a one-week hiatus on Saturday afternoon against Cal State Bakersfield (noon, Pac-12 Networks). As the Buffaloes seek a more consistent game that will allow them to compete in the Pac-12 Conference, the club has been somewhat steady in one program pillar: rebounding.

Yes, the Buffs were outrebounded in each of their first two Pac-12 games. But in the past three games, CU has outrebounded its foes by an average of eight per game. Those two Pac-12 games are the only times the Buffs have been outrebounded this season, and they seemingly should have a decisive advantage on the glass against the Roadrunners.

CSU Bakersfield’s top two rebounders, Justin Edler-Davis and Justin McCall, average just 4.7 rebounds per game. Neither of those players is bigger than 6-foot-6. Yet the Roadrunners still are averaging 12.4 offensive rebounds per game. And that’s the number that’s concerning to CU head coach Tad Boyle.

“If they get 13 or 14 offensive rebounds, it’s going to be a battle. It’s going to go down to the wire,” Boyle said. “So we’ve got to limit them to one shot. I think we’ve had a good week of practice, but you never know.”

Still aiming high

The Buffs still have to take care of Bakersfield, but a more competitive turn in the schedule is around the corner.

CU hosts No. 7 Kansas on Tuesday and, after a break for Christmas, the Buffs will open Pac-12 play on the road against Oregon and Oregon State. The Buffs have provided reason for cautious optimism, balancing spurts of impressive play defensively with a knack for committing turnovers in bunches, as well as a still-ongoing long-range shooting slump.

The Buffs lost soundly against the two toughest opponents on the schedule, UCLA and Tennessee, and certainly want back the loss against Southern Illinois in the opener of the Paradise Jam. Despite the ups and downs, point guard Keeshawn Barthelemy says confidence remains unwavering in the CU locker room.

“We’re not down on ourselves at all. We can’t be down on ourselves at this time of the year,” Barthelemy said. “We’re just looking to get better every day, game by game, and we’ll see where it takes us. But we’re a pretty confident group. We’re competitive.”

Notable

CSU Bakersfield coach Rod Barnes is in his 11th season with the Roadrunners. He led the program to its first NCAA Tournament appearance in 2016. In 2001, he was the SEC Coach of the Year when he led Ole Miss to the tourney…The Roadrunners are averaging just 67.1 points per game and only 57.2 points against Division I foes…CSU Bakersfield is shooting just .323 on 3-pointers…CSU Bakersfield’s only previous visit to the CU Events Center was nearly 10 years ago on Dec. 20, 2011. CU fell behind by 11 points in the first half before rallying for a 70-64 win. Andre Roberson paced the Buffs with 18 points and five rebounds, while Carlon Brown posted 15 points with eight assists.