PAC-12 TOURNEY: Colorado cruises to second-round match with Ariz - Tucson News Now

PAC-12 TOURNEY: Colorado cruises to second-round match with Arizona

LAS VEGAS, NV (Tucson News Now) -

Following his team's drubbing of last-place Washington State on Wednesday, Colorado coach Tad Boyle warned his team of the color red and it had nothing to do with the roulette table in this town.

"There might be a lot of red in the stands," Colorado guard Josh Fortune said of the throng of Arizona's fans at the MGM Grand Garden Arena, where the Wildcats will play the Buffaloes in a Pac-12 tournament quarterfinal game at 3:30 p.m. Thursday.

"We're used to that in away games with tough crowds," he said.

Boyle made it a point to inform his players what to expect from the atmosphere at the Garden Arena.

He talked about it in the press conference after fifth-seeded Colorado's 80-56 win over Washington State. His players talked about it. For good or bad, the Arizona crowd is already in their heads.

"Obviously, they're hungry," Colorado sophomore guard George King said about No. 4 seed Arizona, which lost 75-72 in Boulder, Colo., two weeks ago. "We got them at our place, but like coach said, it's going to be like a road game. This is kind of our opportunity to go out there and beat them in front of mostly an Arizona packed house."

Boyle chuckled when asked about his comments to his team in the locker room.

"One thing we know about Arizona fans is that they travel," said Boyle, whose team will face Arizona for the third time in four years at the Garden Arena. "They've had a lot of success here, and we have too. It's a little bit further for our fans to travel than it is for the Arizona fans."

"I told these guys after the Utah game (last Saturday) when we really felt like we let one slip away in Salt Lake, that was the last road game they'd play. Everything else is a neutral floor. Today after the game, I told them I lied to them…It may be a little more of a road-type feel for us, but if it is, hey, we know how to handle that."

King, a redshirt sophomore who sat out last season to work on his game, looked like the player who was selected the most improved in the Pac-12 this season. He led the Buffaloes against with 21 points on seven-of-12 shooting from the field against Washington State.

King was the only scorer in double figures for both teams until Wazzu's junior guard Que Johnson made two free throws with 9:41 left in the game to give him 11 points. 

Fortune was the only other Colorado to score in double figures with 13 points.

Senior center Josh Scott, who averaged 16.5 points and 8.7 rebounds a game in the regular season, finished with only six points on three-of-eight shooting from the field and five rebounds.

He had a season-high 26 points with nine rebounds in the win over Arizona in Boulder, Colo., on Feb. 24.

"I think one thing we've shown is we have a lot of guys who can step up," said King, who watched last season when Colorado finished 16-18 with basically Scott, Xavier Johnson and Askia Booker and a lot of other nondescript guys. "We have a collection of guys now who can step up."

Wesley Gordon, a junior forward, and sophomore forward Tory Miller led the Buffaloes with seven rebounds against the Cougars. Scott's numbers were not impressive at the post, but he did have a team-best five assists with no turnovers.

Thursday's game against Arizona will be Scott's 11th against the Wildcats in his four years with Colorado. His record against Arizona: 2-8. In his favor: The momentum coming off his performance two weeks ago but he knows the Wildcats will be ready for him this time.

"With basketball you make adjustments," Scott said. "They'll make adjustments and improve. For us it's also about making adjustments and see what happens."

When asked about the pending sea of red at MGM Grand Garden Arena, Scott shrugged his shoulders. He showed no sign of concern.

"I've been through all of that," he said, reflecting on his many experiences here and at McKale against Arizona. "I know what to expect."

Javier Morales contributes to TucsonNewsNow.com's "Nothing but the Notes" and also runs the Web site AllSportsTucson.com.

He is contributing reports about the Pac-12 tournament this week.

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