Game day notes: Cody Williams back on track heading into visit to USC

Feb. 17—LOS ANGELES — If there was a bright spot amid another miserable defeat at UCLA, it was the return to form by Cody Williams.

After a three-game mini-slump, Williams was huge in the near-comeback against the Bruins. The freshman wing finished 8-for-9, missing a perfect shooting night when he was charged with a miss for his meaningless half-court heave at the final buzzer.

In his previous three games, Williams, a plus-50% shooter for the bulk of the season, shot just .350 (7-for-20) while averaging 8.3 points. The previous two games were Williams' first after a one-game injury absence at Utah on Feb. 3 due to a facial injury that has Williams sporting a protective mask.

Like his seven-game absence earlier this season due to a left wrist injury, Williams said it took a few games to get back in the flow. In the first two games of his return from the wrist injury, Williams shot .391 (9-for-23) but went 23-for-33 (.697) in the next three games.

Williams hopes the performance at UCLA provides a similar springboard.

"It was weird. When I came back from my wrist, it took two games and then the third game I was back in the flow of it," Williams said. "Now, in the third game I was able to kind of just find my bearings and feel easier out there. I think the biggest thing is they were hitting me when I was open. They were making plays for me and I was trying to make plays for them. We just played together and that's what really allowed me to get in my groove."

Williams told BuffZone this week he expects to wear the face mask the remainder of the season.

Record watch

KJ Simpson went just 1-for-2 at the free throw line in the loss at UCLA, but he remains atop the Pac-12 in free throw percentage with an .890 mark (113-for-127). With a minimum of seven games remaining in the season, Simpson is on pace to break Cory Higgins' CU season record of .866 set in 2010-11. Simpson's career free throw mark of .831 currently ranks third all-time.

"I'm just trying to make free throws. Free throws are free points," Simpson said. "My dad has always stressed that to me since I was younger. Free throws, you can get a lot from them. You can increase leads, you can change momentum, you can get in a rhythm. At the end of the day, they are free points and they're very important."

Family reunion

CU head coach Tad Boyle took advantage of the trip to Los Angeles to watch his younger son, Boulder High alum Pete Boyle, play for Division III Pomona Pitzer on Wednesday night. Given the elder Boyle's vocation, getting to see his son play in person is a rare treat, and so the CU coach's other son, Jack, and his daughter Claire also flew in from New York to surprise their brother.

"It was a great night for the Boyle family," Boyle said. "The first time seeing him play in college as a junior, it's tough. It's the sacrifice you make as a coach. But it was a special night for our family."

Pete Boyle and his teammates made it an extra special night, as Pomona went an incredible 22-for-39 on 3-pointers in a 109-74 win against Occidental, with Pete going 4-for-6 overall and 3-for-5 from long range with 11 points, four assists and three rebounds. Heading into Saturday, Pete Boyle had started all 23 games for Pomona (18-5) while averaging 10.6 points and 5.3 rebounds.


On Friday, CU Buffs legend and current Portland Trail Blazers head coach Chauncey Billups was named to the list of finalists for the 2024 induction class for the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. ... CU stood at No. 42 in Saturday's NET rankings and began the day at No. 37 at USC began the day at No. 103 at KenPom and No. 105 in the NET. ... Dave Pasch and Sean Farnham are scheduled to call Saturday's game on ESPN.