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Wright Takes Aim At Assist Record As Buffs Host Cal

Jan 13, 2021
With one more assist, McKinley Wright IV will break the CU assist record he currently shares with Jay Humphries.

CU Game Notes

 BOULDER — Barring an unforeseen catastrophe, sometime early Thursday afternoon Colorado Buffaloes senior point guard McKinley Wright IV will throw a pass to a teammate, who will in turn convert the pass into a basket.

It will be the 563rd time in Wright's spectacular career that such an occurrence has transpired, and it will make him the Buffs' all-time leader in assists, moving him one past former Colorado great Jay Humphries.

Of course, there is no absolute, 100% guarantee that Wright will get an assist when the Buffaloes (9-3 overall, 3-2 Pac-12) face off against Cal (6-7, 1-5) in a noon game at the CU Events Center.

But if history is any guide, the odds are greatly in Wright's favor. In his 111 games in a Colorado uniform, he has had at least one assist 110 times (the only zero came against Wyoming in last season's win over the Cowboys).

Wright came very close to breaking the record in Monday's 65-58 victory at Utah. His fourth assist of the game — to Jeriah Horne, who capped a decisive 15-0 run with a basket inside early in the second half — tied the record. But he did not have another the rest of the game, and he later teased that he wanted to save the record-breaking assist for his home floor.

"I joked with coach (Tad Boyle) and told him that I wanted to break the record at home so I can keep the game ball," Wright said. "My dad really wants it. Hopefully we come out victorious, hopefully I get one assist and break the record so I can keep that game ball and give it to my pops."

The downside, of course, is that Wright will very likely break the record in a nearly empty arena instead of in front of an adoring crowd. 

"I just wish our fans could be in the arena to see him," Boyle said. "We'd stop the dang game and give him the game ball."

Instead, the Buffs will play on, Wright will still get the game ball — and, as Wright said, the Buffs will hopefully pick up their third straight win in the process.

Thursday's game is the first of two at home, to be followed by a 1 p.m. game Saturday against Stanford.

While Mark Fox's Bears have struggled this season — Cal has lost three of its last four, with its only win coming against Pac-12 bottom feeder Washington — many of their recent struggles can be attributed to an injury to All-Pac-12 guard Matt Bradley. The Bears' leading scorer suffered an injury in a Jan. 2 game against Oregon State and hasn't played since.

But, Boyle said the Buffs have prepared as if Bradley will play — and he also warned that the Bears have other talented players. Senior guard Ryan Betley is averaging 10.7 points per game while fellow guard Makale Foreman is averaging 10.3 per game.

"We'd better be ready to play," Boyle said. "This is not a team we can take lightly or take for granted. I've got respect for Mark Fox and I think they've got good players."

THE SERIES: Colorado leads the all-time series with the Bears 18-16, including a 12-2 mark in Boulder. CU has won the last four against the Bears at the Events Center, but the Bears won the last meeting between the two teams, a 76-62 decision in Berkeley last Feb. 27.

DOUBLE DELIGHT: With D'Shawn Schwartz and Jabari Walker both collecting double-doubles in the win over Utah, CU now has five players with double-doubles this season. Schwartz's 15-point, 15-rebound effort was his second double-double of the season (and career) while Walker's 15-point, 10-rebound effort was the freshman's first of his career.

Others with double-doubles this season include Evan Battey, Wright and Jeriah Horne.

NET RANKINGS: Colorado checked in at No. 10 in the latest NCAA NET rankings, the highest-rated Pac-12 team. CU is 2-3 in Quadrant One games (wins at USC and home vs. Oregon).

Other Pac-12 teams in the top 50 are USC (16), Oregon (28), UCLA (33), Arizona (39) and Stanford (47).

HOME, SWEET HOME: The Buffs have played nine of their 12 games away from home, and they are 6-3 in those games and 3-0 at home.

But unless the schedule changes — always a possibility with Covid-19 issues — they will play six of their next eight at home. After this week, they hit the road next week for games at the Washington schools before returning home for four straight at the Events Center.

BROADCAST: Thursday's game will be televised by the Pac-12 Network with Drew Goodman and Robert Ehsan. KOA radio will broadcast the game with Voice of the Buffs Mark Johnson and Scott Wilke.

Contact: Neill.Woelk@Colorado.edu