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Game day notes: Javon Ruffin making the most of minutes for CU Buffs

Mar. 22—INDIANAPOLIS — During Colorado's open practice session on Thursday at Gainbridge Fieldhouse, Javon Ruffin playfully knocked down three consecutive 3-pointers left-handed.

Chances are Ruffin won't launch any that way when the CU men's basketball team takes on Florida in the first round of the NCAA Tournament on Friday afternoon (2:30 p.m. MT, TBS). Yet on a team whose starters are logging heavy minutes, any contribution from the bench is valuable.

Ruffin played only nine minutes and scored only one point in CU's First Four win against Boise State on Wednesday, but he still managed to make the most of those nine minutes, collecting two rebounds, one assist and a blocked shot.

"Every player that plays, they contribute in some form or fashion. What Javon has brought to this team is an energy. He plays with great energy," CU head coach Tad Boyle said. "He's a great ball-mover, and he's a threat from the 3-point line. He's been playing very, very well in the practices that we do have and he's got a great attitude. He's kind of there when you need him, which is very reassuring as a coach.

"(Against Boise) he gave us some really good minutes. He gave us some good energy off the bench. That's what we need."

Off to the races

During his media session on Thursday, Florida coach Todd Golden said he wants his team to control the pace and "see if they can run with us."

Boyle's response? Bring it on. Particularly after the past three games — Washington State and Oregon in the Pac-12 tournament, plus the Boise win — were physical affairs.

"We're fine playing fast. I love playing fast," Boyle said. "They're a very good transition offense team, so our transition defense will be tested. The best way to have transition defense is take care of the ball on offense, and to be efficient on offense so they're taking the ball out of the net. I'd like them to be running after makes, not after misses. If they're running after misses, we'd better get back and shore things up, because they will pitch ahead and they're very good in transition.

"But I think we are too. Obviously we play in Boulder. We want up-tempo games for sure. So I'd love an up-tempo game. We haven't had one of those in a while."

Milestone watch

CU guard KJ Simpson needs 15 points to become just the third Buffs player to score 700 points in a season, a club that includes Alec Burks (779 in 2010-11) and Cliff Meely (729 in 1970-71). Shaun Vandiver is third on the season scoring list with 699 in 1990-91. Simpson is 10th on the season 3-point list with 74 and will pass Blair Wilson (75 in 2003-04) and Chauncey Billups (75 in 1996-97) with just two more. With 169 assists, Simpson is seventh on CU's season list and is closing on Billy Law (170 in 1990-91), Jay Humphries (173 in 1983-84 and 174 in 1982-83) and McKinley Wright IV (175 in 2017-18).

Against Boise State, Simpson set the program record for minutes played in a season (1,224) and he enters the Florida game at No. 15 on the all-time scoring list (1,381). Next on that list is teammate Tristan da Silva (1,422), who needs seven points to pass Michel Morandais for 13th.

Notable

Florida guard Zyon Pullin, a fifth-year player and a transfer from UC Riverside, faced the Buffs in Boulder with Riverside in the 2022-23 season opener, going 8-for-16 with 17 points and six rebounds. ... Indianapolis has been a favorable location for Florida in the NCAA Tournament. The Gators reached their first title game in Indianapolis in 2000 and won the national championship there in 2006.