Colorado has won three consecutive games in blowout fashion and has averaged 88 points a game in the stretch as the Buffaloes approach their last scheduled nonconference matchup.
Grand Canyon figures to have enough to at least close the gap when the teams meet Tuesday to wrap up the Far West Classic in Las Vegas.
Grand Canyon (4-2) is coming off a pair of tough losses, but the Antelopes were competitive in both games. They lost to San Francisco 68-65 on Sunday in their first game of the Far West Classic. One week prior, then No. 23 Arizona State needed a late 3-pointer to beat them 71-70.
That should be a warning to Colorado, despite its runaway victories over the last week. The latest, a 92-69 win over Washington in their opener of the Far West Classic on Sunday, was significant in that leading scorer McKinley Wright IV had just five points.
“We had five guys in double figures and McKinley Wright wasn’t one of them,” head coach Tad Boyle said. “When this team does that, we’re going to be hard to beat because we know how good McKinley is.”
The Buffaloes (5-1) got a big game from center Dallas Walton, who had a career-high 22 points. Walton, who has dealt with three ACL surgeries in his Colorado career, has scored in double figures in three straight games after accomplishing that four times in his first 61 games.
Walton and the Buffaloes will face a challenge with Grand Canyon’s leading scorer, 6-foot-10 Alessandro Lever. Lever has averaged 16.5 points for a team scoring 78.8 points over its six games.
The Antelopes’ competitive play in both losses might help them down the road as the young players mature.
“Experience plays a big part,” head coach Bryce Drew said after Sunday’s loss to the Dons. “Our guys are in a new system and only in their sixth game in that system. We were encouraged by a lot of things we saw, but obviously we need to get much better at our execution.”
Following Tuesday’s game, Colorado will open Pac-12 Conference play at Arizona on Dec. 28. Sunday’s game against Washington was not an official Pac-12 game. Grand Canyon will play host to Denver on Dec. 29 before starting its Western Athletic Conference schedule at Tarleton on Jan. 8.
–Field Level Media