John­son, Bu≠s host­ing Fort Hays State

The Denver Post - - SPORTS - By Pat Rooney

boulder» His re­turn from a sea­son-rob­bing torn Achilles ten­don has been suc­cess­ful for Xavier John­son.

But through his first 10 games back with the Colorado men’s bas­ket­ball team, John­son still is seek­ing to bring a con­sis­tent al­laround game to the court.

Of course, con­sis­tency has been a teamwide is­sue for the Buf­faloes (7-3). Yet, since an off night dur­ing a loss to Colorado State a lit­tle more than two weeks ago, John­son has shown signs of be­ing a more de­pend­able force. It’s a trend he hopes to con­tinue Satur­day as the Buffs host Di­vi­sion II Fort Hays State of Kansas at the Coors Events Center.

John­son said he was both­ered by a nerve is­sues in his shoot­ing arm when he went 1-for-7 with just six points against CSU. In the three games since, he has av­er­aged 18 points and 5.7 re­bounds while shoot­ing 48.6 per­cent (17for-35) from the floor. John­son also has gone 6-for-12 on 3-point­ers dur­ing that span.

“We just want to play our game plan at the end of the day,” John­son said. “We’re just go­ing to make sure we ex­e­cute our X’s and O’s, and if we do that we should win. This is a game where if you mess up, you will get pulled.”

In that spirit, CU coach Tad Boyle promised he is “ready to sub­sti­tute lib­er­ally” if the Buffs fail to re­spond prop­erly against Fort Hays State, which will bring a 7-4 record and a dy­namic scorer — Rob Davis, a 5-foot-11 se­nior guard from Detroit — to the Coors Events Center.

Davis is av­er­ag­ing 24 points per game and shoot­ing 58 per­cent on field-goal at­tempts — in­clud­ing 56 per­cent shoot­ing be­hind the 3point line. Davis has scored 30 or more points four times this sea­son, in­clud­ing each of the Tigers’ past two games.

“We’ve had guys come into this build­ing and drop 40 on us, so we have to be ready for this guy,” Boyle said. “Fort Hays has great bas­ket­ball tra­di­tion. Any­one that knows any­thing about col­lege bas­ket­ball knows Fort Hays State is a good Di­vi­sion II pro­gram. Well coached; they’ve had re­ally good play­ers and teams in the past.

“Is it a game we should win? Ab­so­lutely. But it’s a team that’s go­ing to come in here and fight. It’s their Su­per Bowl, and we have to be ready for that.”

CU needs look no fur­ther than to last sea­son’s home game against Di­vi­sion II Fort Lewis for a re­minder of how such teams al­ways bring their A-game when given an op­por­tu­nity to take on a Di­vi­sion I power. Fort Lewis trailed the Buffs by only two points at half­time of their meet­ing last sea­son be­fore CU pulled away in the sec­ond half.

Buffs guard Der­rick White was on the other end of such matchups sev­eral times dur­ing his three sea­sons in Colorado Springs as a Di­vi­sion II star at UCCS, and he knows Fort Hays State will be ready for its op­por­tu­nity at CU.

“You’re look­ing for­ward to that game and you kind of cir­cle it. It’s your op­por­tu­nity to show you should be a D-I player,” White said, re­fer­ring to how Di­vi­sion II play­ers ap­proach games such as Satur­day’s.

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