Christmas came early for the Buffs.

Tad Boyle's wildly inconsistent team started celebrating the holidays at halftime of Thursday's game.

Colorado, which led by as many as 23 points in the first half, had to hold on for a 56-51 victory over Texas Southern at the Coors Events Center.

Boyle was so frustrated with some of his players that he wanted to play four against five down the stretch.

But this isn't Hoosiers. And Andre Roberson (11 points, career-high 16 rebounds), Spencer Dinwiddie (career-high 18 points), Carlon Brown (11 points) and Austin Dufault (eight points) probably wouldn't have pulled this one out short-handed.

"Right now it's hard to know who to play from night to night, from half to half. It's hard," Boyle said. "People ask me about the rotation. We don't have a rotation until we have consistency."

Two key freshmen, Askia Booker (illness) and Damiene Cain (concussion), were not available off the bench.

That's no excuse for the Buffs getting outscored 35-24 after the intermission by a SWAC team that was already 0-8 on the road and coming off an 85-61 drubbing at Colorado State on Monday.

"We took our opponent for granted," a frustrated Brown said. "Obviously, we didn't respect or fear them. And they came back into the game and made it close."A 3-pointer by Lawrence Johnson-Danner and a goal-tending call against Roberson in the final minute allowed the well-traveled Tigers to claw back to within one possession (51-48) with 27.2 seconds left.

CU went 4-for-5 at the line to avoid another embarrassing non-conference defeat for the Pac-12.

"I don't care how bad people say the Pac-12 is," Brown said. "If we play like that in the conference we'll lose by 20."

After a put back by Roberson gave CU a 21-point lead early in the second half, Omar Strong made back-to-back 3-pointers during an 8-0 run by the visitors to cut their deficit to 38-25 with 14:09 remaining.

Strong hit another deep ball and Fred Sturdivant closed the gap to 41-36 on a hoop with 9:52 remaining.

Brown scored the next four points to stop the bleeding and Dinwiddie's fifth 3-pointer gave CU a 48-36 lead.

The Tigers (1-9) refused to go quietly into the snowy night and were within five points after Strong's final circus shot of the evening with 6.7 seconds left.

Nate Tomlinson, who had a season-high seven assists and five turnovers, went 1-for-2 at the line moments later to cap the scoring. It was the senior point guard's only point in the last three games.

"I've been coaching now for 23 years, 17 years in Division I, and I'm not sure I've coached a team like this in terms of inconsistency," Boyle said. "It just boggles my mind how we can let a team shoot 22 percent in the first half and 50 percent in the second half."

Dinwiddie made 3-pointers on three consecutive possessions to stake the home team to an early 18-6 lead and made the score 26-6 with 7:20 remaining in the first half after splashing his fourth offering from behind the arc.

The hot shooting opened up the paint where Shane Harris-Tunks made two field goals and a Dufault basket extended CU's cushion to 32-9.

The Tigers closed the half on a 7-0 run and trailed 32-16 at the intermission after shooting 22.7 percent (5-for-22) from the field.

Strong scored 17 of his 23 points in the second half and finished 7-for-9 from 3-point distance. Texas Southern was 13-for-26 from the field in the second half.

Conversely, CU was 12-for-24 shooting in the first half and just 6-for-21 (28.6 percent) following the break.

"The first thing we talked about at halftime was don't play the scoreboard, play the possession," Boyle said. "Maybe they just like not listening to their coach."

It appears so.

CU clearly did not learn any lessons after nearly squandering double-digit leads late in wins over Fresno State (71-64) and Cal State Bakersfield (70-64).

The Buffs (7-4) led Texas Southern 7-0 and appeared to be off to the races. Of course, they also jumped out to a 7-0 lead against Wyoming only to have a 27-game home winning streak against non-conference opponents come to an end with a 65-54 loss on Dec. 9.

"Once again a tale of two halves," Dinwiddie said. "At this point, we're just very inconsistent. And until we stop that, we won't be a good team."

Notable

CU improved to 3-0 against Texas Southern, including an 88-74 win in the opening round of the NIT on March 16 of this year, and 10-0 all-time against SWAC teams. ... The Buffs committed a season-high 20 turnovers that led to 16 points for Texas Southern. ... CU players will get the next three days off before returning to practice on Monday. The Buffs will return to action on Wednesday against New Orleans at the Coors Events Center.

Colorado 56, Texas Southern 51

TEXAS SOUTHERN

FG FT Reb

Min M-A M-A O-T A PF PTS

Scott 13 0-1 1-2 2-3 0 0 1

Price 15 0-2 1-2 1-2 0 1 1

Clayborn 10 1-4 0-0 0-1 0 0 2

Ellington 8 0-3 0-0 0-0 0 1 0

Strong 32 8-12 0-0 0-2 1 0 23

Onwenu 7 0-2 0-0 0-1 1 2 0

King 23 1-1 0-0 0-4 0 4 2

Strdvnt 25 3-4 5-7 1-2 1 3 11

Jhnsn-Dnr 19 1-7 0-0 1-4 1 2 3

Peters 18 0-4 0-0 0-3 1 0 0

Gibbs 30 4-8 0-0 0-1 4 3 8

Totals 200 18-48 7-11 7-25 9 16 51

Percentages: FG .375, FT .636.

3-Point Goals: 8-20, .400 (Strong 7-9, Johnson-Danner 1-7, Gibbs 0-1, Scott 0-1, Peters 0-2).

Team Rebounds: 2.

Blocked Shots: 2 (Sturdivant, King).

Turnovers: 16 (Ellington 2, Scott 2, Sturdivant 2, Gibbs 2, Onwenu, Strong, Peters, King, Clayborn, Johnson-Danner, Price).

Steals: 12 (Johnson-Danner 2, King 2, Ellington 2, Gibbs 2, Strong 2, Peters, Sturdivant).

Technical Fouls: Bench.

COLORADO

FG FT Reb

Min M-A M-A O-T A PF PTS

Rbrsn 35 4-11 3-4 7-16 2 1 11

Dufault 28 3-8 2-4 1-4 2 2 8

Tmlnsn 29 0-3 1-2 1-3 7 1 1

Dnwdd 32 5-7 3-4 1-3 1 2 18

Brown 29 3-7 3-4 0-3 1 2 11

Sharpe 9 0-1 0-2 0-0 2 1 0

Hrrs-Tnks 11 2-2 0-0 0-1 0 2 4

Chen 18 0-4 0-0 0-0 1 1 0

Adams 9 1-2 0-0 1-2 0 2 3

Totals 200 18-45 12-20 12-36 16 14 56

Percentages: FG .400, FT .600.

3-Point Goals: 8-21, .381 (Dinwiddie 5-6, Brown 2-5, Adams 1-2, Roberson 0-1, Dufault 0-2, Chen 0-2, Tomlinson 0-3).

Team Rebounds: 4.

Blocked Shots: 2 (Roberson 2).

Turnovers: 20 (Tomlinson 5, Adams 4, Chen 3, Dinwiddie 3, Dufault 2, Brown, Harris-Tunks).

Steals: 3 (Dufault, Adams, Chen).

Technical Fouls: None.

Texas Southern 16 35 -- 51

Colorado 32 24 -- 56

A -- 4,621.

Officials -- Gregory Nixon, Quinton Reece, Deldre Carr.