Colorado men’s basketball set to open 2022-23 season Monday vs. UC Riverside

After nearly eight long months and through an offseason that saw the departures of star forwards Jabari Walker and Evan Battey, the 2022-23 men’s basketball season will officially begin Monday when the Buffaloes take on the UC Riverside Highlanders at the CU Events Center.

UC Riverside will provide a decent challenge for the Buffs. The Highlanders were picked to finish fifth in an underrated Big West and are led by preseason all-conference honoree senior Zyon Pullin.

One way to describe Pullin is as a do-it-all guard. He’s coming off averages of 14.3 points, 5.6 rebounds and 4.3 assists in 2021-2022, good enough to nab All-Big West second-team honors. The Highlanders’ offense should run mainly through Pullin and graduate student Flynn Cameron.

Cameron averaged 10.5 points and 4.1 rebounds per game last season at UC Riverside, his second year in the program after transferring from DePaul. He can also shoot well from deep, finishing 34% from three last season, which was aided by his six 3-pointers in UC Riverside’s upset over Arizona State last year.

The Highlanders don’t have much experience inside, a fact that should benefit the Buffaloes on Monday with center Lawson Lovering needing a strong start to his sophomore campaign. Lovering started for Colorado in its exhibition victory over Nebraska and put up nine points and five rebounds in 20 minutes. Plus, he also looked solid on defense.

Colorado has depth on offense too, though, with some experienced players in Tristan da Silva and Nique Clifford playing alongside the intriguing youth of KJ Simpson. Da Silva expects to be a good option for Colorado to stretch the floor and his decision-making, in particular, should be a big factor on Monday. The duo of Simpson and JUCO transfer J’Vonne Hadley will be key for the Buffs as their offense should run through the former, and I’m also intrigued to see what role Hadley plays on that end of the floor.

The Buffs’ season-opener will tipoff at 6 p.m. MT with television coverage on Pac-12 Mountain.

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