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Know The Enemy: Colorado

The Buffs may be Oregon State’s best chance at a Pac-12 win before the regular season ends. Can the Beavers cool off a surging Colorado team?

NCAA Basketball: UCLA at Colorado Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Colorado Buffaloes (15-11)

  • Latest BTD Pac-12 Power Rankings: 7th Overall (5-8)
  • Head Coach: Tad Boyle (7th Season)
  • Top Performer: Derrick White (17.0 PPG, 4.2 APG)
  • Points For: 76.3 PPG (T-109th)
  • Points Against: 71.7 PPG (169th)
  • Last Game/Streak: 81-49 Win v. Washington State (2W)

The Skinny

When Oregon State and Colorado last met back on January 26th in Boulder, the Beavers and the Buffs were both two winless outfits in the Pac-12, hopeful to break their long losing skids. When they meet up this Thursday in Corvallis, Colorado will have won five of their last six conference games, while Oregon State is still struggling to break their conference seal. What a difference a month can make in the heart of conference play.

While we’ve well-chronicled the vastness of Oregon State’s struggles all-season long, most recently analyzing how the Beavers sit just five games away from history heading into this contest, the truth of the matter is that this showdown very well could be the Beavers’ best-chance remaining at finding a conference win. Time is simply running out for Oregon State. So, if Wayne Tinkle and company plan on getting past the Buffs, it’ll begin with slowing down a top-heavy Colorado offense, which is spearhead by Division II transfer guard, Derrick White (17.0 PPG).

White, who was one of Division II’s top talents at the University of Colorado-Colorado Springs, has been an instant impact player since his arrival in Boulder and has seemingly been the perfect compliment to some of the roster’s other established talents, including Xavier Johnson (14.7 PPG) and George King (11.6 PPG). White, Johnson and King may be the team’s only players that currently average double-figures in scoring but don’t confuse Colorado’s three-pronged scoring machine as a lack of usable depth. The Buffs often dive fairly deep into their bench, with 10 players having appeared in at least 23 games this season.

While the rest of the Colorado wrecking crew may not be household names, the way the depth chart fills in around their star talents can make all the difference for this trending Buffs group. Forwards Wesley Gordon (7.2 PPG) and Tory Miller (6.3 PPG) are the team’s fourth-and-fifth leading scorers respectively, who round out a strong Colorado front-court with some size and toughness. 6’ 5” swingman Josh Fortune (6.2 PPG) is a former Providence transfer, who has actually reduced his role in final campaign in Boulder, while a duo of freshman guards in Bryce Peters (4.8 PPG) and Deleon Brown (3.5 PPG) shown the signs of a bright future for the Buffs.

Oregon State may simply take a win however they can get it and while the opportunity is there against a Colorado group who has been susceptible to some off-kilter performances, the Beavers’ mindset heading into this one could determine the outcome before the game is even played. If Oregon State can view this game as a “must-win” situation, with some daunting tests still left on their regular season slate, there’s a chance that the Beavers could come out with the proper energy and fight needed to stave off the Buffs. However, if Oregon State continues their “one-half of good basketball approach”, Colorado has the potential to turn this game in their favor in quite the hurry.

Players To Watch

Derrick White (Senior - Guard)

The most-highly publicized transfer to ever come out of Division II Colorado-Colorado Springs, guard Derrick White has flawlessly acclimated himself to the Division I level this season, posting a team-high 17 points per game in the process. In Colorado’s last two wins over Washington and Washington State, White totaled a combined 39 points on 15-21 shooting from the field. Talk about efficiency at it’s finest.

Xavier Johnson (Senior - Forward)

The steady veteran presence on the interior for Colorado, it was stunning to see that Johnson missed two games this season due to a suspension sustained from a violation of team rules, as he’s always been viewed as a solid leader of this Buffs group. In his return to the hardwood, Johnson looked a bit lost, finishing with just 4 points on 1-8 shooting from the field. Expect that to change in the second game on his return.

George King (Junior - Guard)

After struggling to find the court as a freshman, George King has come into his own in his junior season in Boulder, emerging as one of Colorado’s best all-around talents. The junior guard pitched in 24 points against the Beavers in the two-teams earlier meeting this season, which included knocking down four three-pointers. King is also a menace on the glass, where he averages 7.1 boards per contest, a small margin behind team-leader Wesley Gordon (7.3 RPG).

Game Info

Date: Thursday, February 16th
Time: 6:00 PM PT
Location: Gill Coliseum (Corvallis, OR)
Coverage: Pac-12 Network