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By Jim Powers

Colorado’s up-and-down season is currently at another crest with the team riding a three-game win streak. The Buffaloes have high hopes of making it four straight Thursday night when they visit Pac-12 cellar-dweller Washington State.

They key, though, for Colorado will be carrying over its home success to the road. After beating Utah (67-55), California (68-64) and Stanford (64-56) to sweep a three-game homestand, Tad Boyle’s Buffaloes are 11-2 in Boulder but have won just one of their eight true road games this season, including a 1-5 mark in the Pac-12. Three of Colorado’s final five are in enemy arenas, and Boyle knows his team will have to find a way to pick up a road win or two if it is to escape its current four-way tie for sixth place in the conference. “If we want to continue to climb the ladder, we have to go compete on the road like we competed at home,” Boyle said after Sunday’s win over the Cardinal. “It’s the same game, it’s the same group of officials, same basket height – just different venues. We have to play with great toughness, energy and effort in Pullman (Wash.) on Thursday and in Seattle on Saturday like we’ve played with in two of the last three games.”

TV: 11 p.m. ET, Pac-12 Network

 

ABOUT COLORADO (15-10, 7-6 Pac-12): The Buffs got an unexpected boost off the bench Sunday as sophomore forward Lucas Siewert hit career highs with 17 points and seven rebounds to join regulars George King (11 points, nine rebounds) and McKinley Wright (10 points, seven assists) in double figures. Wright, the team’s precocious freshman point guard, is averaging a team-best 14.5 points and 5.4 assists while King is contributing 13.8 points and a team-leading 8.2 rebounds. Guard Namon Wright is also averaging double digits with 10.7 points, but Colorado is scoring only 68.8 per Pac-12 contest, which ranks 11th in the league.

ABOUT WASHINGTON STATE (9-15, 1-11): The Cougars have dropped seven straight to take up residence in the Pac-12 basement, and it’s a streak that started Jan. 18 with an 82-73 road loss in Boulder. Washington State’s latest loss – Sunday’s 84-57 setback at Oregon – was one of its most lopsided defeats yet and the absence of leading scorer Robert Franks (17.9 points) to a knee injury suffered last Thursday at Oregon State, certainly didn’t help matters. Guard Malachi Flynn (14.6) is the only other Washington State player averaging double figures while forward Drick Bernstine (7.0 boards) and Franks (6.9) are the leading rebounders for the team, which is surrendering a Pac-12-worst 83.1 points in conference play.

 

TIP-INS

1. Colorado has won 12 of the 15 meetings against Washington State, but the Cougars have notched overtime wins in two of the last three games in Pullman.

2. Cougars coach Ernie Kent doesn’t believe Franks’ injury is serious – he was held out against Oregon as more of a precautionary measure – and says he expects junior forward to be back in action Thursday.

3. Colorado will be without reserve G Deleon Brown (5.0 points), who fractured a hand in a practice collision last week and is out indefinitely.

PREDICTION: Colorado 77, Washington State 72

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