Rivalry renewed as Colorado men’s basketball looks to extend streak at USC’s Galen Center – The Denver Post

The players who made the Colorado-USC rivalry one of the more entertaining matchups in Pac-12 men’s basketball over the past five years have moved on.

The next generation of Buffaloes is eager to carry on the battle.

The nearly-annual, often entertaining visit to USC is at hand, with the Buffs beginning a two-game trip through Los Angeles on Thursday night at the Galen Center. Yet with last year’s graduation of Evan Battey, the Buffs no longer have any players remaining from when tempers first flared between the programs during the 2017-18 season.

First and foremost, CU is seeking road results that will get them back in the Pac-12 Conference race. Beyond that, several Buffs players expressed a responsibility to carry on an impressive road run at USC.

“Those were our teammates. Whatever we experienced with them, we kind of felt it a little bit last year and it carries over with us for sure,” CU point guard KJ Simpson said. “That rivalry in that sense is still kind of there. It’s going to be a high-energy game. It’s going to be a little personal, but you’ve just got to play. You can’t get caught up in all that.”

The friction between the programs first arose at the Galen Center on Jan. 10, 2018, when USC coach Andy Enfield took a late timeout with a win in hand to celebrate with his team. This was four days after CU head coach Tad Boyle’s infamous “Hell yes!” response after a win against Arizona when asked if he took extra satisfaction in defeating teams embroiled in the then-new FBI recruiting investigation, which included Enfield’s USC program.

The Trojans completed a season sweep of CU in Boulder a month later, but a Buffs win the following winter at the Galen Center spurred a jubilant victory celebration that featured an exchange of words between Boyle and then-USC assistant Jason Hart, followed by an epic bear hug between Boyle and CU athletic director Rick George.

That victory sparked a three-season, seven-game winning streak for the Buffs against the Trojans that culminated with a CU win in the 2021 Pac-12 tournament semifinals and featured three consecutive wins at the Galen Center. That road-winning streak remains intact, as CU didn’t visit USC last season, though the Trojans did start earning a little payback with a win in Boulder a year ago.

“I would say they’re our biggest rivals in the Pac-12,” CU junior wing Nique Clifford said. “There’s kind of some bad blood there. I wasn’t here for it, but it’s carried on. Everyone knows how big this game is.”


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