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Five keys to Colorado protecting home floor against Oregon

Coming off a much-needed comeback victory over USC, the Colorado men’s basketball team looks to maintain its undefeated start at the CU Events Center with the Oregon Ducks coming to Boulder on Thursday.

The Ducks are fresh off their own Saturday night comeback as they beat Cal to remain undefeated in Pac-12 play. Oregon is now the only Pac-12 team yet to lose in conference play (5-0).

After recently dropping three straight road games, the 12-5 Buffaloes have little margin for error moving forward. Fortunately, beating one of the Pac-12’s best squads could get the Buffs back on track for a March Madness bid.

Tipoff is set for 8:30 p.m. MT on FS1.

Here’s how the Buffs can continue their dominance at the CUEC:

Keep the energy high

Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

All season, the Buffs have thrived on energy. However, with the Ducks playing a nine to 10-man rotation, this becomes even more crucial. CU head coach Tad Boyle only has a consistent seven-player rotation at the moment, so he must do everything in his power to keep his guys juiced for a full 40 minutes while limiting Oregon runs when the Buffs are tired.

Limit live-ball turnovers

(Photo by Chris Coduto/Getty Images)
(Photo by Chris Coduto/Getty Images)

As mentioned in almost every article about Colorado this season, the Buffs struggle to take care of the ball. What hurts them the most, though, isn’t simply the turnovers, but rather the fastbreak opportunities that result, as seen in the Arizona State loss. With Oregon averaging 7.8 steals this year (tied for 85th in the NCAA), the Buffs need to continue taking care of the ball after notching season-lows in turnovers over the past two games.

Die by the 3

Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

With N’Faly Dante and Nathan Bittle recently returning for the Ducks, their interior becomes quite scary as they have four guys who are 6-foot-9 or taller who receive significant time. Eddie Lampkin Jr. is the only true big man getting significant minutes for Colorado, meanwhile. With limited options for a surplus of Oregon big men, the Buffs’ defense must find a way to get the ball out of the paint, even though Oregon is shooting 36.7% from 3 this season. However, the Ducks are only 2-2 in games when they’ve shot 27 or more 3-pointers, so forcing shots from the perimeter may be Colorado’s best option.

Get active on the glass

Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports
Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

Colorado has made a point to outrebound opponents by eight or more all season. When the Buffs have failed to reach that goal, they’re only 4-3. With Oregon’s impressive frontcourt, the Buffs will need to battle on the glass to give themselves a chance as all three of the Ducks’ losses have come in games where they’ve lost the rebound battle by six or more.

Contain Jackson Shelstad

Syndication: The Register Guard
Syndication: The Register Guard

As the leading scorer for Oregon (14.6 points per game), Jackson Shelstad has been key for his squad. If Colorado can pressure the star freshman, that would be major for the Buffs as the Ducks are 2-2 in games where Shelstad has turned the ball over three or more times, with both losses featuring a sub-40% shooting night from the former four-star prospect.

Further reading

READ: Notable players who’ve hooped at the CU Events Center in the Pac-12 era

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Story originally appeared on Buffaloes Wire