What went right: The Buffs held New Mexico to a .296 field goal percentage, the lowest by a CU opponent this season, and outrebounded the Lobos 58-30.
What went wrong: CU committed a season-high 23 turnovers, which led to 28 points for New Mexico.
Star of the game: Dom Collier. Even with two players posting double-doubles, the senior guard was huge in the second half, scoring 14 of his team-leading 16 points after the break. Collier went 2-for-3 on 3-pointers with two assists and no turnovers in 18 minutes.
What's next: The Buffs face their biggest challenge of the season so far Saturday at No. 13 Xavier (3 p.m. MST, FOX Sports 1).
Even Tad Boyle admitted it was an ugly win.
Yet on the heels of their first loss of the season, and with their first ranked opponent looming, it was a victory the Colorado Buffaloes gladly will take.
Using solid second-half defense and a dominant rebounding advantage, the CU men's basketball team was able to overcome an almost disastrous glut of turnovers to pull away from New Mexico for a 75-57 victory Wednesday night at the Coors Events Center.
The Buffs turned in their best effort of the season from 3-point range (9-for-15) and on the glass, outrebounding New Mexico 58-30. CU needed every edge it could get, as a season-most 23 turnovers turned into 28 points for the Lobos.
"It certainly was not a thing of beauty," Boyle said. "We did what we had to do to get a win. I was really pleased with the second half. Obviously we rebounded the ball well. If we had rebounded like that last Saturday (at Colorado State) we'd be 8-0 right now instead of 7-1. Good bounce-back win.
"The turnovers were something we knew coming into this game was going to be an issue. We talked about it, we practiced, we prepared for it, but we didn't handle it real well."
The Buffs led by as many as 11 points during the first half but New Mexico trailed by just two points at halftime and drew even in the opening moments of the second half. CU led by just one point with about 11 minutes remaining when the Buffs took control with a 12-3 run, getting all 12 points from a talented freshman class doing its best to grow up in a hurry.
Lazar Nikolic, who made the first start of his career, began the run with a 3-pointer followed by an alley-oop dunk from Deleon Brown, who also made his first start of the season. Two baskets by McKinley Wright on either side of a 3-pointer from D'Shawn Schwartz gave CU a 10-point lead with 7 minutes, 25 seconds remaining. Shortly thereafter CU added seven consecutive points and never looked back.
CU held New Mexico 29 points under its season scoring average, an effort Boyle credited to a second-half defensive performance that saw his Buffs limit the Lobos to a 3-for-15 mark on 3-pointers. New Mexico's overall field goal percentage of .296 was the lowest by a CU opponent this season.
"We talked about the key to this game defensively was transition defense and guarding the 3-point line," Boyle said. "The transition defense was bad in the first half because we kept turning the dang thing over. Our transition was predicated on our bad offense. They average 12 threes a game and they had six at halftime. They had three in the second half, which is a much better number for us."
Wright helped spark a resurgent effort by the Buffs on the boards by posting the first double-double of his career, finishing with 12 points and 10 rebounds. Senior George King also posted a double-double, his second of the season and ninth of his career, with 10 points and a team-leading 11 rebounds.
Senior guard Dom Collier scored 14 of his team-leading 16 points after halftime, while freshman Dallas Walton contributed eight rebounds in just 15 minutes.
The turnovers aside, overall it was a solid final tune-up before the Buffs visit 13th-ranked Xavier on Saturday.
"It started with me. I had five (turnovers). I got sped up and made some dumb decisions instead of just slowing down," Wright said. "It wasn't a really great press — they run and jump in full-court man-to-man, and we got sped up maybe a little more than we should have. We've just got to be patient with teams like that and just hit the open man. That's what we struggled at tonight."
COLORADO 75, NEW MEXICO 57
NEW MEXICO (3-6)
Furstinger 2-7 2-5 6, A.Jackson 2-8 0-0 6, McNeal 1-6 2-3 4, Simons 1-14 0-2 3, Logwood 1-7 0-2 2, Pinchuk 1-2 0-0 2, Mathis 5-9 2-3 15, Kuiper 2-3 0-0 6, Maluach 3-8 0-1 6, Simmons 3-7 0-0 7, Mondragon 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 21-71 6-16 57.
Walton 1-3 0-0 2, Nikolic 3-5 0-2 7, M.Wright 5-10 2-3 12, King 3-6 3-3 10, Brown 3-4 1-2 9, Siewert 1-2 0-0 3, Collier 4-8 6-8 16, N.Wright 4-7 0-1 9, Schwartz 2-5 1-2 6, Bey 0-2 1-2 1. Totals 26-52 14-23 75.
Halftime — Colorado 35-33. 3-point goals — New Mexico 9-31 (Mathis 3-6, Kuiper 2-2, A.Jackson 2-7, Simmons 1-3, Simons 1-9, Furstinger 0-1, McNeal 0-3), Colorado 9-15 (Brown 2-2, Collier 2-3, N.Wright 1-1, Nikolic 1-2, Schwartz 1-2, King 1-2, Siewert 1-2, M.Wright 0-1). Fouled out — Walton, King, Kuiper. Rebounds — New Mexico 28 (Furstinger 7), Colorado 55 (King 11). Assists — New Mexico 10 (McNeal 3), Colorado 14 (M.Wright 4). Total fouls — New Mexico 21, Colorado 21.