Elon (5-4) at (21) Colorado (9-1)
Friday, December 13, 8:30 p.m. (ET)
The Sports Network
By Scott Haynes, Senior College Basketball Editor
FACTS & STATS: Site: Coors Events Center (11,064) -- Boulder, Colorado. Television: Pac-12 Network. Home Record: Elon 4-1, Colorado 7-0. Away Record: Elon 1-1, Colorado 2-0. Neutral Record: Elon 0-2, Colorado 0-1. Conference Record: Elon 0-0, Colorado 0-0. Series Record: Colorado leads, 1-0.
GAME NOTES: The 21st-ranked Colorado Buffaloes close out a brief two-game homestand on Friday evening, as the welcome the Elon Phoenix to the Coors Events Center for a non-conference affair.
Tad Boyle's Buffaloes are no longer flying under the radar. The team dropped its season opener against nationally-ranked Baylor (72-60), but hasn't lost since, reeling off nine straight victories. The most impressive of those wins came last time out, as CU's Askia Booker launched a shot at the buzzer to knock off the Kansas Jayhawks 75-72 last weekend.
It has been a series of streaks for the Phoenix thus far. Matt Matheny's squad opened the campaign with two straight wins, which were followed by four consecutive losses. However, Elon is back on the upswing, now sitting at 5-4 on the year thanks to wins in three consecutive games, including an 87-70 blasting of VMI on Dec. 3.
These two teams have met just once before on the hardwood. Colorado earned a rather easy 107-69 decision in Boulder in 1998.
The Phoenix are not a team to take lightly, as they possess the requisite offensive skills to win any game. Elon enters this contest averaging an impressive 80.7 ppg, while boasting of a +8.8 scoring margin. The team has been extremely efficient in doing so, shooting over 50 percent from the field (.506) and over 44 percent from behind the arc (.441). Four of the five starters are averaging double figures, with the fifth, guard Austin Hamilton (9.8 ppg) just under that mark. Forward Lucas Troutman leads the way with 17.1 ppg. Guards Tanner Samson and Sebastian Koch follow with 12.8 and 11.6 ppg, respectively. Forward Ryley Beaumont rounds out the top threats at 10.9 ppg.
The Phoenix made light work of VMI last time out, thanks to the one-two punch of Samson and Troutman. The 6-foot-4 Samson was recently named the SoCon Player of the Week thanks in part to his efforts against the Keydets, where he had a huge game, posting career-highs in points (23) and rebounds (9). Troutman was impressive as well, going 8-of-9 from the floor and finishing with 21 points. Beaumont added 10 points to the cause for Elon, which shot a sizzling .566 from the floor overall and outscored VMI at the free-throw line, 21-12.
Thanks to Booker's 30-footer at the buzzer, Colorado brought an end to an ugly 19-game losing streak to Kansas and thrust itself into the Top 25. Booker and Spencer Dinwiddie shared team-high scoring honors with 15 points apiece. Xavier Johnson and Josh Scott poured in 14 points each for Colorado, which won despite shooting a modest .411 from the field compared to Kansas' .529 performance.
The Buffaloes have used a balanced gameplan this season, averaging a solid 77.0 ppg, while limiting foes to just 65.6. The team has also enjoyed strong showings on the boards, outrebounding foes by 8.6 rebounds per game. Dinwiddie is the straw that stirs the drink in Boulder. The 6-6 junior leads the team in both scoring (15.3 ppg) and assists (3.7 apg). Scott, a 6-10 sophomore, provides balance down low (12.4 ppg, 8.2 rpg). Despite the heroics against Kansas, Booker has struggled with his accuracy on the year at just .381 shooting, but he is still averaging close to 12 points per game (11.8).
Winning in Boulder is not easy, as Colorado is 52-7 at home under Boyle. Despite having several scoring options on the roster, Elon will be facing an uphill battle in this one, as the Buffaloes are carrying plenty of momentum as the calendar year ticks away.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Colorado 76, Elon 62
12/13 10:33:00 ET