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This Week in Colorado Basketball: San Francisco & Georgia

Josh Scott leads the Buffaloes into the fray as they take on San Francisco and Georgia.

Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

After stifling the Air Force Falcons and fighting past Lipscomb, the Colorado Buffaloes will host the San Francisco Dons before traveling to Athens to play the Georgia Bulldogs. After struggling at times in what was supposed to be a cakewalk week, the Buffs should challenged by two solid squads in preparation for the upcoming Colorado rivalry week (games against Colorado State and Northern Colorado).

Wednesday night’s opponent, San Francisco, is a formidable matchup as they run with an up-tempo attack like none the Buffs have seen this year. In their six games this season, USF has rode their high-octane system to a 4-2 record that saw a lopsided win over the consistently splendid Montana Grizzlies, among others. Each of the two losses came within a two-day span in which they lost to Florida Gulf Coast and Evansville.

San Francisco’s offensive attack is headlined by a legitimate threat in Kruize Pinkins, a 6’7" forward who can shoot the lights out and get to the rim at will. Pinkins, however, is not alone in San Francisco’s arsenal as fellow big man Mark Tollefsen is a sound shooter while succeeding on the other side of the ball, and combo guard Tim Derksen is a fantastic shooter who manages to rake in a plethora of rebounds on a nightly basis. I’m withholding their personal statistics because the team’s high-paced play skews their numbers to the point of horrid misrepresentation, but they’re still solid players nonetheless.

With Tollefsen and Pinkins stretching the floor with Derksen and Matt Glover driving to the rim, Colorado should have their hands full defensively, especially if the Dons’ big men draw Josh Scott and Wesley Gordon away from rebounding position. In order to turn this game into a blowout, the three-headed monster of point guards in Askia Booker, Xavier Talton and the immortal Dom Collier will need to cut down on what’s been an atrocious turnover rate. It’s been so bad, I’m inclined to believe Sefo might have infected the basketball team with the turnover bug (I’m sorry). To maximize the offense the guards need hold the ball just long enough to feed the insanely efficient demigod we call Joshua Scott. This is a good time to mention that Scott has a PER of 39. 15 is average and 30 is extraordinary; what Scott has been doing is beyond insane.

Colorado’s most memorable matchup with Georgia included A.J. Green’s grandeur and, eventually, the student section tearing down the goalposts in a 29-27 Colorado victory. Away from the gridiron, the Buffs and Bulldogs have actually played three times since 2010 with the former winning the previous two. Last year’s game -- also in Boulder -- was a decisive victory as our familiar gold-clad crusaders rode Spencer Dinwiddie and an efficient Askia Booker (!) to a quality resumé builder. And despite being only 4-3 on the season, the Bulldogs are ranked 69th in the country according to Kenpom rankings. For comparison, the Buffs are 77th, Wyoming is 70th, Auburn is 158th and Arizona is 2nd. Part of the .500-record, high-ranking situation comes from Georgia’s early strength of schedule as their season losses have come against Georgia Tech, Gonzaga and Minnesota.

This Bulldogs squad from that game is virtually the same, with the exception of Nemanja Djurisic and Juwan Parker having worked their way from getting tons of minutes off the bench to getting tons of minutes in the starting lineup. As a team, Georgia has a fairly average offense -- and I mean by average, I mean for a team in a major conference like the Pac-12, B1G, SEC, etc. -- and rely on a stingy defense to suffocate their opposition. The offense they get usually comes from Marcus Thornton (not that Marcus Thornton), a nimble 6’8" power forward because every team’s best player is a nimble 6’8" power forward. Thornton, as you’d expect, is an efficiently scoring, strong rebounding fellow that relies on getting to the rim. He’s not alone carrying the offensive burden either; Thornton shares the workload with winger Charles Mann and the aforementioned Djurisic. The former is a slashing type whose active defensively and the latter is pick-and-pop big with strength on the boards. By the way, Charles Mann should go by the name of Chuck, because Chuck Mann would be quite the legendary moniker.

The Buffs should be able to leave the Deep South with a victory in hand, but they have to be able to carry over improved ball handling from the San Francisco game, continue to feed Xavier Johnson on the wing and Scott on the block, and be able to shut down the multitude of bigs Georgia will throw out there. If Tad Boyle’s squad is able to do at least two of those things, we should be looking at Colorado’s first road win of the season and a very valuable victory for the NCAA Tournament selection committee to look over.

I wanted to mention it earlier, but I thought it would be funnier to end my weekly article on a stupid throwaway observation I noticed earlier: Georgia has two players on their name that you could smoothly call Kenny G.