Buffs Hold off Lobos
BOULDER -- Tad Boyle's Colorado Buffaloes battled down the stretch and held on for an 87-76 victory over the New Mexico Lobos in front of an energetic CU Events Center crowd of 7,115 Saturday afternoon.
Sophomore Keeshawn Barthelemy led the Buffs with 20 points on 3-of-4 shooting from behind the arc. Sophomore Jabari Walker finished with a double-double, notching 17 points and leading the team with 10 boards. Senior Evan Battey tacked on 16 points of his own and was a perfect 2-2 from 3-point range.
Jaelen House led the Lobos in scoring with 22.
Colorado led by as many as nine in the first half and Barthelemy's 14 first half points aided the Buffs as they held a 42-36 lead at intermission.
The Buffs struggled early in the second half and the Lobos were able to keep themselves in the game. New Mexico was within one, 60-59 with just under 10 minutes left, but the margin never got closer than that the rest of the way.
Later in the period, New Mexico was hit with a major blow when House was called for his fifth foul and he was done for the afternoon. Shortly after the call, Colorado's lead was at just three points, 77-74. The Buffs dominated from there, and took advantage of the Lobos being without their leading scorer as Battey hit a driving layup to spark a 10-2 CU run. With just under a minute left, Walker met New Mexico's Jay Allen-Tovar at the rim and came up with a huge block to seal the victory for the Buffs. .
"Good win for the Buffs tonight," said Boyle. "It wasn't pretty at times. We still have a lot of work to in a lot of different areas but our guys showed grit and toughness when they needed to. For us to extend leads and put games away, we've got to become better defensively, and we've got to become better at taking care of the basketball."
HOW IT HAPPENED: The Buffs started off slow and struggled to make shots as the Lobos held a slight 15-14 edge nine minutes in.
From there, Colorado began to build some momentum and schemed together an 11-2 run to take a 28-21 lead late in the first half. The Lobos responded with a 10-3 run of their own capped off by a three on the right wing by House to level things at 31 a piece.
Following a Colorado timeout, Barthelemy and Battey nailed back-to-back 3-pointers to help the Buffs take a 42-36 lead at halftime.
The Buffs got off to a sluggish start in the second period, turning the ball over on their first three possessions and allowing the Lobos to shrink the CU lead to just one, 42-41.
"We had 16 turnovers against Montana State and 18 tonight against New Mexico," explained Boyle. "That is an area of concern for us in practice the last three weeks. At some point, if we don't get that under control, it's going to cost us a game in the future."
Colorado settled down, and after a pull-up jumper from Nique Clifford, the Buffs were the first to hit the 50-point mark and took a 50-45 lead into the first media timeout.
Out of the break, House hit a three and then stripped Barthelemy on the following position en route to a 9-2 run by the Lobos.
Lawson Lovering halted the Lobo run with a two underneath. Following a pull-up jumper from Elijah Parquet, Lovering slammed home a dunk off a feed from Barthelemy to give CU a 60-56 advantage with just under 11 minutes to go.
Back-to-back turnovers from the Buffs out of the second media timeout helped the Lobos cut the Buffalo lead to 60-59. Then a bucket from K.J. Simpson and a driving dunk from Tristan da Silva gave CU a 65-59 advantage with just under eight minutes left.
The Buffs stretched their lead to eight after a step-back two by Battey just inside the 3-point line. Just when it seemed the Buffs were going to pull away, the Lobos' Javonte Johnson drilled a left corner three to make it a five point, 70-65 game.
Barthelemy took over from there, hitting a floater on the right baseline, sinking two free throws and then coming up with a huge steal at the four-minute mark with the score at 74-69.
"We've always known Keeshawn could fill it up," said Battey. "That was never a question. Keeshawn is one of the top scorers on this team. You've seen it, he can shoot it, drive it, pass it. He knows how special a player he is. He knows how special we think he is. So we're going to have him play with that confidence and play free."
New Mexico's Johnson hit a pair of threes and Battey hit a hook shot to make the CU lead 76-71. Following a New Mexico three, the Lobos leading scorer, House, fouled Parquet for his fifth foul and was out for the rest of the game with 2:25 left to play.
Parquet hit one-of-two from the line and then Mashburn hit a layup and a free throw for the Lobos to make it a three point, 77-74 CU lead.
Battey then came up with a huge play, splitting two Lobo defenders and finishing at the hole. This gave the Buffs the momentum they needed down the stretch, and after a block from Walker with under a minute left, Colorado held the Lobos at bay the rest of the way.
"I saw the play breaking down a little bit and I knew their big was going to be late," said Walker. "I just timed it. I didn't know if I was going to take the charge or block it, so I waited a little bit. I knew he was going up so I just decided to meet him at the rim and the results were in my favor."
KEY STATS: Colorado starts its season 2-0 for the sixth-straight season ... Colorado outrebounded UNM 47-27 and held the Lobos without a rebound for the first 10:26 of the second half ... Barthelemy recorded his first-career 20-point game ... Battey has made 13 of 16 field goals to start the year ... Saturday was just his second game of his career with multiple 3-point makes, his first coming in his freshman year at San Diego (Nov. 20, 2018) ... Walker finished with his third career double-double and his first this season.
NEXT UP: The Buffs have a quick turnaround and will return to the CU Events Center Monday for a 6:00 p.m matchup with Maine (Pac-12 Mountain).