The Colorado Buffaloes sit in third place in the Pac-12 with a realistic chance of finishing at or near the top of the conference standings. That makes Saturday's game against the visiting Utah Utes in Boulder, Colo., that much more important.
Colorado (13-4, 7-3) is a game-and-a-half behind first place UCLA but can make up some serious ground over the next 10 days. The Buffaloes are one game into a five-game homestand, all of which are winnable matchups. A sweep of those would put them at 11-3 and in solid contention for a Pac-12 regular-season crown.
First, Colorado has to beat the Utes (6-7, 3-6). The Buffaloes won the first matchup, 65-58, in Utah on Jan. 11 with a big second half and now go for the season sweep on their homecourt.
The Utes are playing for the first time in six days and the third of a four-game road trip with a chance to get a second win before visiting Arizona State. Saturday's game was moved up from 7:30 p.m. MST to 12:30, and even though guard Alfonso Plummer acknowledges he isn't a "morning person," he said Utah will be ready.
"I feel like this team is strong mentally," he said. "We always find a way to be ready -- it doesn't matter the time, it doesn't matter the place. So, I feel like we are going to be ready for any time they put us into."
Plummer had 13 points off the bench in Sunday's loss at Washington. The Utes shot 50.8 percent from the field but committed 16 turnovers in the 83-79 loss.
Utah will need to take care of the ball against a Buffaloes team that has several weapons. Colorado is led by McKinley Wright IV and has had different players lead in scoring throughout the season. The Buffaloes are coming off a closer-than-expected win over Washington State on Wednesday that they hope serves as a wake-up call.
"We just got to be better if we want to contend for a Pac-12 championship and make a deep run in the tournament, we can't have performances like tonight," Wright said after the win over the Cougars. "We had them down almost 20 in the first half. We let them cut it to six in the second half. We got to be better."
--Field Level Media
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