GAME NOTES: The fifth-seeded Colorado Buffaloes begin their Pac-12 Tournament Championship defense as the square off with the 12th-seeded Oregon State Beavers in the first round at the MGM Grand Garden Arena.
This will be a rematch of the regular-season finale for both sides, in which the Beavers downed the Buffs, 64-58. The winner of this first-round bout earns a date in the next round with the Arizona Wildcats.
This matchup between Colorado and OSU will be a little different as the Buffs get back their star forward Andre Roberson (10.8 ppg), who missed the past two games with a viral illness. Tad Boyle's squad will be a much tougher team to compete with Roberson in the fold, as he makes a huge impact on the boards with a nation leading average of 11.5 per contest and defensive end with 2.3 steals and 1.4 blocks per tilt.
There is plenty of talent on the roster for Colorado that will only get better with Roberson's return. Spencer Dinwiddie (15.4ppg) is one of the better scorers out of the backcourt while Askia Booker (12.6 ppg) and Josh Scott (10.7 ppg) are also double-figure scoring threats. Xavier Johnson (8.7 ppg, 4.8 rpg) shoots 51.4 percent from the field but he is more of a glue guy than a big-time scoring threat.
Colorado finished just one win shy of the school's regular season record set in 1996-97 when it was led by Chauncey Billups. Spencer Dinwiddie paced the team with 18 points in the regular season finale
Oregon State has never been lower than the 10-seed in the Pac-12 Tournament. It has picked up three tourney wins over the past two seasons and pulled off the biggest upset of 2012 when it knocked off the No. 1-seed Washington. Scoring has not been a weakness for Oregon State this season as the Beavers are putting in the third most points per game (72.4) among Pac-12 teams. In fact the Beavers actually have a positive scoring margin (+1.9) this season.
Roberto Nelson (17.8 ppg) and three other double-figure scorers have made sure the Beavers light up the scoreboard frequently. Nelson became the first Beaver to lead the conference in scoring in league games since Gary Payton. Ahmad Starks (10.5 ppg) needs just 17 points to reach the 1,000-point plateau for his career. Joe Burton (11.2 ppg, 6.6 rpg, 3.4 apg) recently reached that mark for his career and became the first player in school history with at least 1,000 points, 700 rebounds and 300 assists.
The Buffaloes went 4-0 in their first appearance in the Pac-12 Tournament a season ago, but their perfect record in the event will be in serious jeopardy if Roberson cannot return in full form right away. OSU played exceptionally well on Saturday and Moreland will have another field day if Roberson is a step slow.
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