Not long after Tad Boyle learned Monday that his nationally ranked Colorado men's basketball team will be without its leader, junior point guard Spencer Dinwiddie, for the remainder of the season, the Buffaloes coach told the players that they must collectively step up.

CU's top scorer (averaging 14.7 points) and best player, Dinwiddie suffered an ACL tear in his left knee Sunday in the first half of a 71-54 loss at Washington. Fears that Dinwiddie would require season-ending surgery were confirmed Monday by an MRI.

The Buffaloes, dropping six slots to No. 21 in The Associated Press media poll, host UCLA on Thursday and Southern California on Saturday.

"I told the team that we don't have to beat every team without Spencer, but we have to figure out a way to beat UCLA without Spencer," Boyle said. "Nothing changes with our preparation. Not one man can replace him. Everybody has to step up. If they do that, it will lessen the blow."

Dinwiddie's left leg buckled when he planted his left foot to make a move to the right while dribbling. The Los Angeles native fell to the floor and was in obvious pain. There had been no contact with another player. CU (14-3, 3-1 Pac-12) was leading the Huskies 25-22 at the time of Dinwiddie's injury.

Dinwiddie wasn't available for comment Monday; the team had the day off and didn't practice.

Boyle said Dinwiddie's surgery likely will be next week, after the swelling subsides. As for the recovery timetable, Boyle said that can differ among athletes and won't be known until after the surgery.

"We're not thinking about a timetable right now," Boyle said. "All the advice Spencer got from (me) is, 'Control the things you can control. That's your attitude and your effort.' "

Replacing Dinwiddie will be a challenge. As a 6-foot-6 point guard, Dinwiddie is a unique talent and the team's unquestioned leader on the court. His size and skill set present a difficult matchup for any opponent. In addition to his scoring, he leads the Buffs in assists and steals, while also contributing 3.1 rebounds per game.

Beyond the statistics, Dinwiddie directs the offense and has developed into one of the team's top defensive players.

At least CU has plenty of options to replace Dinwiddie, including two other more conventional point guards. Xavier Talton (6-2), a sophomore from Sterling, has been one of CU's top reserves. He's averaging 3.5 points, 1.6 rebounds and 1.4 assists per game. Eli Stalzer, a 6-3 sophomore from Brea, Calif., figures to get more minutes with Dinwiddie out. Stalzer is averaging less than a point per game but has shown the ability to distribute the ball effectively.

Boyle has always preferred to keep 6-2 junior Askia Booker at shooting guard, but 6-5 freshman Jaron Hopkins has played both at the point and 2-guard spots this season. Hopkins tops CU reserves with 5.4 points per game.

"We have some ball handlers," Boyle said. "They can dribble it and pass it."