Colorado needs win as it hosts No. 4 UCLA (Jan 12, 2017)
BOULDER, Colo. -- Colorado's 0-3 start in conference play has left the Buffaloes desperately seeking a turnaround.
The problem is it's not going to get any easier with sharpshooting UCLA, ranked fourth nationally, coming to the Coors Events Center for a Thursday night matchup in Colorado's conference opener at home.
"We need a sense of urgency," Colorado coach Tad Boyle told the Denver Post.
The Buffaloes (10-6, 0-3 Pac-12) won 10 of 13 nonconference games but then embarked on Pac-12 play by losing consecutively on the road to the Arizona schools and Utah.
UCLA (16-1, 3-1) has won three straight since its lone loss of the season 89-87 at Oregon when the Ducks hit a 3-pointer in the final moments. The Bruins have the nation's third-ranked scoring offense, averaging 92.8 points per game and are second in shooting percentage, converting 53.4 percent of their shots from the field.
Six Bruins players are scoring in double figures, led by freshman T.J. Leaf, who has averaged 17.4 points per game.
"It's kind of fun, you're at 16-1 and yet you can still see an awful lot of growth that we still have ahead of us and things we got to work on to get better and improve and that's a positive," UCLA coach Steve Alford told the Daily Bruin. "If we were 16-1 and can't do things any better, then I think we'd plateau out, but I think the ceiling for this team is still very, very high and that's exciting."
Colorado continues to harbor aspirations for a berth in the NCAA tournament, where the Buffaloes have advanced in four of the last five seasons. But time is running short and the competition heightening. After playing the Bruins, Colorado hosts No. 25 Southern Cal on Sunday before hitting the road to play the Washington schools.
"We still have 15 more games," Colorado senior guard Derrick White told the Post. "We can't get too high or too low. We just have to accept we're 0-3 (in the Pac-12) and work to improve every day."
Against the Bruins, they're going to have to improve in a hurry, especially in rebounding and 3-point shooting.
The Buffaloes are converting just 32.8 percent of their 3-point attempts, the second-lowest conversion rate in the league.
"We have been getting some good looks. We're just not making them," White said.
At least the Buffaloes are taking on the Bruins on their home floor, where Colorado has won 15 of its last 16 and 25 of the last 27.
However, UCLA leads the series between the schools 10-2 and is 6-1 against the Buffaloes since Colorado and Utah joined the expanded Pac-12 in 2011-12.
The Buffaloes last beat the Bruins 62-57 on Jan. 2, 2015, at the Coors Events Center.