Boulder, Colo. Eighteen-year-old Trey Eckloff hasn’t played against many centers like Cole Aldrich.
“It’s no excuse to not box off and try your hardest against him,” said Eckloff, Colorado’s reserve forward, “but his level of talent is just yards beyond where everyone else is that we’ve played so far.”
Aldrich contributed 15 points, 10 rebounds and three blocks in KU’s 73-56 victory over CU on Saturday.
He also was perfect from the floor, making all six of his field-goal attempts.
“We could go deep in the season, and I don’t think we’ll find a big man who’s as physical and overall skilled as him,” Eckloff said. “In a way, it was a great learning experience for me just to learn how to play against someone of his caliber.”
Though the Buffaloes couldn’t match up inside with Aldrich, they felt the game was lost in other areas.
CU coach Jeff Bzdelik blamed his team’s turnovers and inability to limit second-chance points.
KU scored 25 points off turnovers and 12 points after grabbing offensive rebounds.
“Bad turnovers and not boxing out — we lost the game instead of them winning it, which is a big disappointment,” said guard Nate Tomlinson, who had seven turnovers.
The Buffaloes committed nine turnovers in each half. While coaching at Air Force, Bzdelik said his team’s goal was 10 turnovers or fewer.
“I use the analogy, the other day, I saw three little boys playing, and they were arguing, ‘It’s my truck. It’s my truck.’ And they’re fighting,” Bzdelik said. “It’s like, ‘It’s our ball. Hold onto it. Let’s be a little selfish and nasty. The opposition … you can’t have it just yet until we get a good shot off.’”
Bzdelik was so frustrated with his team’s defensive rebounding earlier this week that he called up his former boss, NBA Hall of Famer Wes Unseld, to ask for his advice.
Bzdelik was Unseld’s assistant coach with the Washington Bullets in 1993-94.
“If we correct these things, get a little stronger on the boards, hold onto the ball a little better, we’ve got a chance to win a couple games,” Bzdelik said. “I shouldn’t say a couple — we’ve got a chance to win games.”
CU trailed just 34-32 with 16:22 left in the game before KU went on a 9-0 run to take control. The Jayhawks’ biggest lead was 62-41 with just over five minutes remaining.
“If we can stay with these guys, there aren’t too many other teams that we couldn’t stay with,” Eckloff said. “It’s just mistakes that we made that are very correctable. We just have to buckle down and just fix ourselves.
“Give them their dues, but I don’t think they greatly outplayed us. It was mistakes that we made ourselves.”