Wright Lifts Buffs To Win Over Kansas State
MANHATTAN, Kan. — McKinley Wright IV scored 24 points and the Colorado Buffaloes overcame a slow start Friday night to collect a 76-58 win over host Kansas State in the Little Apple Classic.
Tad Boyle's Buffs improved to 2-0 with the win while the Wildcats dropped to 0-2.
Wright, who had 20 points in CU's season-opening 84-61 win over South Dakota, added five rebounds and five assists against the Wildcats and just two turnovers. Maddox Daniels scored 10 points and Eli Parquet, Jeriah Horne and Jabari Walker each added nine for Colorado.
Nijel Pack led Kansas State with 12 points.
The Buffs played the game without three players — D'Shawn Schwartz, Keeshawn Barthelemy and Tristan da Silva — because of covid-related issues.
After a slow start, Colorado trailed by 13 midway through the first half, 22-9, before a flagrant foul called on KSU's Davion Bradford against Wright ignited the Buffs. CU then put together a 14-0 run to take its first lead of the game, and although the Wildcats did manage to come back to take a 31-30 lead at the half, the Buffs never let momentum completely slip away again.
"What you want early in the year is your team to respond when things happen to them," Boyle said. "This team responded to that adversity. That shows great toughness and character."
HOW IT HAPPENED: The Buffs seemed out of sorts early as Kansas State used a 12-0 run to take its 22-9 lead midway through the first half. Colorado endured a nearly six-minute scoring drought to help the Wildcats, a stretch that included three CU turnovers.
But Bradford's foul on Wright under the KSU basket turned the game around, opening the door for a 14-0 Colorado surge that began with a six-point possession.
Walker and Wright each hit two free throws to start the run, with Wright's awarded because of the flagrant foul. Wright then added a drive to the basket on CU's possession following his free throws, and the KSU lead was down to 22-15.
Following a K-State miss, Walker had a steal and a basket before Wright drained a 3-pointer. In the same stretch, Colorado forced five straight Kansas State turnovers and Dallas Walton finished the run with three free throws to give CU its first lead of the game, 23-22.
"That was big," Wright said of the flagrant foul call. "I kind of got disrespected. Nate (Tomlinson, CU assistant) told me I had to turn it up, so I did."
Kansas State did come back to take a 31-30 halftime lead, but the Buffs quickly seized control after the break with a 7-0 run on the back of a Parquet 3-pointer and baskets from Daniels and Wright. The Wildcats did manage one more rally to tie the game, but Wright then put the Buffs in control for good. The CU senior scored six points and added an assist in a four-minute span and Parquet added another 3-pointer as CU pulled out to a 51-44 lead with 11:50 to play.
The Buffs then slowly built their cushion into double digits, as a Wright 3-pointer gave Colorado a 59-48 lead and Parquet bumped the margin to 14 with a 3-point play with 7:28 to go, 62-48.
CU then kept the Wildcats at bay down the stretch to collect the win.
"We don't know how many games we're going to get," Wright said. "We have to play every game like it's our last one."
The Buffs outrebounded K-State 29-23 and CU also finished with just 11 turnovers — 10 coming in the first half. The Buffs also got 21 points off the bench and a 34-18 edge on fast-break points.
TURNING POINT: The Buffs seemed disjointed early, but the flagrant foul call on KSU's Bradford seemed to light a fire and the Buffs were a different team after that.
WHAT IT MEANS: Colorado now has a 2-0 record and some confidence and momentum heading into next Wednesday's Pac-12 opener at Arizona.
KEY STATISTICS: The Buffs had just one turnover in the second half and shot 49.1 percent from the field … CU forced 17 K-State turnovers and reaped 21 points off those miscues.
QUOTEWORTHY: "Pac-12 play starts next Wednesday and we'd better be ready to strap it on." -- CU head coach Tad Boyle
NEXT UP: The Buffs open Pac-12 play Wednesday in a 6 p.m. game at Arizona, then open their home schedule on Saturday, Dec. 5, against Washington State. Time for the WSU game has not yet been determined.