Buffaloes Thump Omaha To Improve To 4-1
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BOULDER — Colorado broke to a big lead early and never let Omaha back in the game Wednesday en route to claiming a 91-49 win at the CU Events Center.
The Buffaloes improved to 4-1 while the Mavericks fell to 2-6.
Tad Boyle's Buffs used balanced scoring, solid shooting and excellent defense to produce the win.
CU finished with four players in double figures, led by McKinley Wright IV, who finished with 17 points, eight assists, five rebounds and no turnovers. Jabari Walker added 15 for CU, Dallas Walton chipped in 14 and D'Shawn Schwartz had 11. The Buffs shot 50% from the floor (31-for-62) while holding Omaha to 31% shooting (19-for-61).
The Buffs led 47-25 at the half, then built their cushion into the 30s early in the second half before pushing the margin to 42 by the final buzzer.
La'Mel Robinson led the Mavericks with 11 points, as CU held Omaha's top three scorers to a combined 15 points on 7-for-18 shooting.
Boyle was obviously pleased with the win, but was also already looking ahead to a schedule that becomes much more difficult. CU will play two games on Sunday and Tuesday in Las Vegas (Washington and Grand Canyon) before beginning Pac-12 play on Dec. 28 at Arizona. The Buffs' next five games are all away from home, as they don't return to the Events Center until a Jan. 7 matchup with Oregon.
"I told the team in the locker room, the rest of the season the price of poker's going up from the standpoint of our opponents being a little more formidable in terms of their size and strength and athleticism," Boyle said. "We have to be ready for that and it starts next Sunday in Vegas."
HOW IT HAPPENED: Colorado put the game away early, using a 10-0 run in the first four minutes of the game to take a 15-4 lead, then using a 14-0 surge midway through the half to build a 32-9 cushion.
The Buffs used the 3-point line throughout the half, getting a pair of treys from Schwartz in the first three minutes, then getting one each from Maddox Daniels, Walker and Dallas Walton in the decisive 14-0 run.
Along with his 15 points, Walker also had a team-high nine rebounds, but he was limited to just 18 minutes on the floor because of four fouls.
"He just has a nose for the ball," Boyle said. "You can't teach that, he's got it. He plays with unbelievable effort, imposes his will on the game and plays with a great motor."
Defensively, CU kept the heat on in the first half, holding the Mavericks to 34.5% shooting (10-for-29) while also forcing eight turnovers.
The Buffs kept up the pressure in the second half, building their lead into the 30s with an 11-0 run that gave Colorado a 61-30 cushion just six minutes into the half. Battey had a nice feed to Walton for a dunk and then had back-to-back buckets in the surge, one coming off a beautiful assist from Wright in the lane.
Colorado then kept its lead at a comfortable margin the rest of the game, pushing the lead into the 40s in the final minutes.
The Buffs had their second-straight 50% shooting night, following a 32-for-60 night in Monday's 81-45 win over Northern Colorado. They also had their second straight solid defensive effort after holding the Bears to 28.8% shooting.
"Defensively a great effort, offensively we shared the ball," Boyle said. "Four guys in double figures. A step in the right direction.
WRIGHT STUFF: CU point guard McKinley Wright IV spent his offseason concentrating on improving his shooting percentage — especially from long range — and reducing his turnovers.
So far, he's produced in both departments. In his last two games, Wright has scored 36 points while shooting 14-for-18, including 4-for-6 from beyond the arc. He has also dished out 15 assists and committed just one turnover.
TURNING POINT: After the Mavs cut Colorado's lead to 18-9 seven minutes into the contest, the Buffs reeled off a 14-0 run for a 23-point lead and Omaha never seriously challenged again.
WHAT IT MEANS: After two solid efforts on both ends of the floor, the Buffs should have some confidence heading into a difficult stretch that will see them play their next five away from home, including three Pac-12 contests.
KEY STATISTICS: The Buffs shot 50% from the floor while holding Omaha to 31% … CU had 18 assists and just nine turnovers … Colorado had a commanding 45-32 edge on the boards.
QUOTEWORTHY: "Our players want to play good quality teams. They want to challenge themselves and we have the opportunity to do that. The next 22 are going to be dogfights." — CU head coach Tad Boyle on CU's remaining schedule that will see them play their next five away from home.
NEXT UP: The Buffs travel to Las Vegas for two games in the Far West Classic at T-Mobile Arena, beginning with Sunday's 8 p.m. (MT) matchup against Washington (Pac-12 Networks). The game will technically be a non-conference contest. CU will then play again Tuesday in Las Vegas in a 9 p.m. game vs. Grand Canyon.