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Amid injuries, road woes, CU Buffs look to regroup ahead of date at Cal

Jan. 7—TEMPE, Ariz. — The ice pack wrapped around his lower leg and the slightly skewed gait provided a fitting complement to Tristan da Silva's look of dejection.

Da Silva, Colorado's standout senior forward, returned to the starting lineup on Saturday after missing three games due to a sprained ankle. He turned in a strong outing, but it wasn't enough to prevent the CU men's basketball team from suffering a 76-73 loss at Arizona State.

"Obviously, it's a little sensitive right now," said da Silva, discussing his ankle while also offering an assessment of the team after CU fell to 2-2 in the Pac-12. "I'm just trying to help out my team, really. I'm not trying to put my performance or anything on my ankle. If I'm ready to play, then I'm ready to play. I don't want to make any excuses."

The Buffs have not offered any manpower-related excuses for any performance this year, yet the reality is that in 15 games so far, CU has hit the floor with its full rotation in just seven of them. With freshman Cody Williams having missed the past seven games due to a left wrist injury, the Buffs have played the last four games while missing two key rotation pieces. Da Silva's return coincided with guard Julian Hammond III getting forced to the bench with a back injury.

CU has shown it can win shorthanded, routing a 15th-ranked Miami team a month ago in New York and sweeping the first conference series of the season at home last week against the Washington teams. But that certainly wasn't the case in Arizona, as the Buffs were trounced by No. 10 Arizona before dooming themselves with 10 first-half turnovers at Arizona State.

"It's a thing you go home and think about. It's a frustrating thing," CU forward J'Vonne Hadley said. "When we're full and healthy, we're a really good team. I still think we're a really good team. We beat Washington and Washington State without them. We just have to try to be consistent with it. There's going to be nights when the offense isn't going so we've got rely on our defense. But again, it comes down to taking care of the ball and knowing personnel. We keep saying the same thing every game, so something's got to change."

Regardless of who fills out the rotation, the Buffs at some point will have to find ways to win on the road. Getting swept during the two-game swing through Arizona left the Buffs at 0-3 in true road games (also Colorado State) going into Wednesday's matchup at California (9 p.m. MT, ESPNU). The Golden Bears on Saturday posted their first win at UCLA since 2010.

"We'll get one good day of practice on Monday on this trip, and a little bit on Tuesday," CU head coach Tad Boyle said. "We've got to find a way to beat Cal on Wednesday. And it's not going to be easy because Cal plays hard and they're in a lot of games. We're going to have to execute."