It was the fifth-year senior, Evan Battey, who best articulated the lost value in a missed opportunity.
Battey has played in 117 games at Colorado, which is tied for 23rd all-time, and has started 92, which ranks 15th. After Thursday’s defeat against No. 16 USC, a loss that dropped the Buffaloes to 0-4 this season against ranked opponents, Battey lamented about those dwindling opportunities, particularly now that only six home games remain in his CU career.
“I said before the (USC) game we don’t have many of these opportunities left,” Battey said. “Especially games at home. I’m running out of time, personally.”
Battey and the Buffs will get a chance at redemption, and another shot at a ranked foe, on Saturday night as CU attempts to salvage a split of a key homestand against No. 9 UCLA.
Unlike USC, the Buffs got a taste of UCLA earlier this season, suffering a 12-point loss in Los Angeles on Dec. 1. CU faced a talented roster that night against a Final Four entrant last spring, but this time the Bruins are expecting to have all of their best weapons at their disposal.
During that December defeat, UCLA’s Jaime Jaquez didn’t attempt a shot and played only seven minutes after absorbing a blow to his head during the first half. Starting forward Cody Riley also was sidelined due to an injury that kept him out of the lineup for 15 games before he finally returned earlier this month.
“It’s a better team than we saw,” CU head coach Tad Boyle said. “Assuming everybody is healthy, we’ll see Jaquez for 35, 36 minutes. We’re going to see Cody Riley for a handful, and Cody Riley is a hell of a player. He’s a low post monster. He can really shoot the ball from 15 to 17 feet. UCLA is good. They didn’t go to the Final Four by accident.”
UCLA dipped to No. 9 in this week’s AP Top 25 after losing at home last week against Oregon, and the Bruins escaped a scrappy, down-to-the-wire upset bid by Utah on Thursday night.
While the Bruins are expected to be back at full strength, Boyle remained non-committal regarding the status of injured starter Elijah Parquet after practice on Friday. The senior guard, a Pac-12 All-Defense selection last year, missed Thursday’s defeat while wearing a walking boot on his right leg. His status for the UCLA showdown remains doubtful, and when asked about Parquet’s status for the Buffs’ three-games-in-six-days road trip next week, Boyle didn’t offer any more clarity than he did following the USC loss.
“I don’t have the answer to that. I truly don’t,” Boyle said. “That’s going to be up to Eli. That much I do know. It’s going to be up to Eli and his ability to tolerate pain.”
CU’s defense acquitted itself well without its top perimeter defender against the Trojans, holding USC to a season-low shooting percentage of .371 while forcing 16 turnovers, which tied for the second-most by a CU foe this season. UCLA, however, is a far more dangerous team from the perimeter and leads the Pac-12 with a .359 3-point percentage. Even with Parquet on the floor, the Bruins shot .466 overall with a 7-for-16 mark on 3-pointers against the Buffs in December.
No. 9 UCLA Bruins at CU Buffs men’s basketball
TIPOFF: Saturday, 7 p.m., CU Events Center.
BROADCAST: TV — Pac-12 Network; Radio — 850 AM and 94.1 FM.
RECORDS: UCLA 12-2, 4-1 Pac-12 Conference; Colorado 12-5, 4-3.
COACHES: UCLA — Mick Cronin, 3rd season (53-24, 418-195 overall); Colorado — Tad Boyle, 12th season (245-148, 301-214 overall).
KEY PLAYERS: UCLA — G Johnny Juzang, Jr,. 17.9 ppg, 4.9 rpg; G Jules Bernard, Sr., 13.3 ppg, 4.9 rpg; G/F Jaime Jaquez, Jr., 12.8 ppg, 5.7 rpg; G Tyger Campbell, R-Jr., 12.1 ppg, 4.4 apg, .448 3-point percentage. Colorado — F Jabari Walker, So., 13.1 ppg, 8.5 rpg; F Evan Battey, R-Sr., 12.2 ppg, 4.7 rpg, .536 field goal percentage; G Keeshawn Barthelemy, R-So., 10.9 ppg, 3.2 rpg, 2.6 apg.
NOTES: During CU’s loss at UCLA on Dec. 1, the Buffs went just 5-for-21 on 3-pointers and were outrebounded 36-29. Walker scored 22 points on a 7-for-11 night, but the rest of CU’s team shot just .372…The Buffs have won three of their past four home games against UCLA…In four games against ranked opponents, all defeats, CU’s Keeshawn Barthelemy has shot just .200 (7-for-35) overall and 0-for-12 on 3-pointers…UCLA ranks last in the Pac-12 with a defensive 3-point percentage of .333…CU’s Tristan da Silva has gone 6-for-9 on 3-pointers over the past three games…Buffs backup center Lawson Lovering has gone 0-for-10 in the past four games and has been held without a rebound in two of the past three games…The Buffs will play three road games in six days beginning with Tuesday’s twice rescheduled date at Oregon (8 p.m. MT, Pac-12 Network).