Buffaloes Roll Past Northern Colorado
BOULDER — Tad Boyle's Colorado Buffaloes dominated in their home opener Monday night with an 81-45 win over the Northern Colorado Bears at the CU Events Center.
Colorado improved to 3-1 and the Bears fell to 2-1.
Colorado's McKinley Wright IV led Colorado in scoring with 19 points. Evan Battey added 14 points and led the team in rebounds with eight. Dallas Walton also scored in double figures, notching 12 points.
The Buffs used a 16-0 first-half run to help push their lead out to 45-21 at intermission. The Bears tried their best to claw back into the game early in the second half, but the Buffs were able to hold them off the rest of the way.
"I thought everybody that played had some really good things that we can build upon," Boyle said. "Overall, I'm pretty pleased."
Bodie Hume led the Bears with 11 points.
HOW IT HAPPENED: The Buffs were able to build some cushion towards the end of the first half, going on a 16-0 run that began with a Wright 3-pointer. Colorado shot 17-for-31 in the first half and had just four turnovers while forcing 12 from the Bears.
Colorado's defense forced 21 total turnovers for the game and forced the Bears to shoot just 28.8% from the field (15-52).
"Our ball screen defense was the key to holding them to 28% and not letting them get going from three," Boyle said. "We got that lead in the second half and we talked about the fact that the only they would get back into this game was with 3-point jump shots, and we took those away for the most part."
The Buffs opened the second half with a Walton 3-pointer, which extended their lead to 27, 48-21. The Bears did not go away, however. UNC outscored the Buffaloes 17-16 in the first 10:26 after the break and Hume began the second half with eight points in the opening six minutes. The Bears also forced 10 second-half CU turnovers.
But Colorado responded and never really allowed the Bears to get back into the game. The Buffs went on another surge late, hitting three 3-pointers in a row, two from Wright and one from D'Shawn Schwartz, to push the lead to 74-40. A layup from Luke O'Brien then gave the Buffs their largest lead of the night at 41, 81-40. The Bears scored the final four points of the contest.
Colorado's big men were a big part of CU's success, with Battey and Walton combining for 26 points on 9-for-13 shooting.
"We knew we had an advantage down low and in order to open up the floor for our shooters, we needed to establish an inside presence," Walton said. "It was nice to get those looks early and to see a collective approach to our game plan to play inside and out."
Monday was also the first time this season that Colorado had all of its players available for a game.
"When we've got all hands on deck and we play unselfishly for each other and sacrifice for each other, this team has a chance to be pretty special," Boyle said.
TURNING POINT: Colorado went on a 16-0 run in the first half to break the game open.
KEY STATISTICS: Colorado outscored the Bears in the paint 44-18. The Buffs also forced 21 UNC turnovers and scored 24 points off those miscues.
NEXT UP: Colorado will return to the CU Events Center on Wednesday, when they will take on Nebraska-Omaha at 3 p.m.