Times-Call (Longmont)

Ruffin’s return to form good sign for CU

Buffs looking to back up strong Arizona St. game at No. 8 Arizona

- By Pat Rooney prooney@ prairiemou­ntainmedia.com

TEMPE, ARIZ. >> Javon Ruffin isn’t quite ready to ditch the knee brace. Yet if his performanc­e at Arizona State is any indication, that time may arrive soon.

Ruffin finally regained the form he had been flashing before an injury absence last month, coming alive in dramatic and timely fashion to help the Colorado men’s basketball team end a six-game road losing streak at Arizona State on Thursday night.

The challenge for Ruffin and the Buffs will be much more difficult on Saturday, as CU takes its lone shot of the regular season at No. 8 Arizona, where the Buffs have gone 0-10 since joining the Pac-12 Conference.

“It felt great. It’s good to help the team in any way,” Ruffin said. “I feel like I’m able to do more. We knew what happened last game (against ASU) when we let them back into it and let them win by one, and we knew we weren’t trying to do that again. We came out and we knew that we had to take care of business the whole game. There wasn’t going to be a letdown like last time.

“I’m definitely getting better every day. Each week I feel better. I wish my body was 100% right now, but it’s plenty good enough for me to get out there and make a difference.”

It was a rough January for Ruffin physically, just as he was making a push for a bigger role in CU’S rotation.

Ruffin played the Buffs’ two games in Los Angeles five weeks ago with a face mask after suffering a fractured nose. Following that series Ruffin, who missed all of last season due to a knee injury, tweaked his knee again and missed four games.

Ruffin returned for the Feb. 2 home win against California but had struggled to regain his preinjury form. One of the few Buffs outside of Tristan da Silva who has performed consistent­ly from 3-point range this season, Ruffin went 0-for-4 from long range in three games before coming alive at crunch time in the 67-59 win at Arizona State.

Ruffin missed his first two 3-point attempts on Thursday but connected early in the Buffs’ game-closing 17-3 run at ASU. Ruffin (eight) and da Silva (12) combined to score the Buffs’ final 20 points. Playing in front of a sizeable group of friends and family members in Tempe, Ruffin also finished with a career-high seven rebounds — one more than he grabbed in the previous three


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