What went right: The Buffs made improved 3-point defense a priority in the offseason, and they responded by holding a strong-shooting Iowa State team to a 2-for-10 effort from long range.
What went wrong: Another area of offseason emphasis was reducing turnovers, but CU failed on that front Friday, finishing with 18 turnovers that led to 16 points for the Cyclones.
Star of the game: George King. After taking a redshirt season last year, the sophomore hit four 3-pointers and led CU with 14 points in his return.
What's next? CU visits Auburn on Tuesday at 1 p.m. MST (ESPN).
SIOUX FALLS, S.D. — The history book will indicate the Colorado Buffaloes men's basketball team began its 2015-16 season on a neutral floor.
Yet make no mistake — there was little that was neutral about the crowd of 3,200 decked out in Iowa State red and gold Friday afternoon at the Sanford Pentagon. And the Buffs very nearly handed them a major disappointment for their drive back to Iowa.
However, too many turnovers and a pair of dominant runs by the No. 7-ranked Cyclones on either side of halftime proved too much to overcome, as a valiant effort by CU ended with a 68-62 defeat.
"We knew coming into this game we were going to be tested a lot of different ways," CU coach Tad Boyle said. "We know what we have to get better at. That's why you play these games. Forget a neutral court. This was a big-time road environment with 3,200 people in the building, and 3,150 were cheering for Iowa State and not the Buffs.
"We knew turnovers were an issue with this team, and it ended up being a big part of the game."
To CU's credit, each time Iowa State established a seemingly comfortable lead the Buffs were able to respond, beginning with a George King 3-pointer with 3 minutes, 15 seconds left in the first half that gave CU a 25-22 lead.
But Iowa State proceeded to dominate the next seven minutes, completing the first half with an 8-0 run that gave the Cyclones a 30-25 advantage at the break. CU senior forward Josh Scott recorded the first basket of the second half, but Iowa State answered with a 10-0 run that put the Buffs in a 13-point hole.
It was a frustrating shooting effort for frontcourt stalwarts Scott and Wesley Gordon, who combined to go 7-for 23 from the floor. Scott did finish with a game-high 11 rebounds.
"Honestly, I'm very disappointed. We thought we could win that game," Scott said. "We have some stuff to work on, myself especially. I just wasn't hitting. I was getting a lot of shots I generally make. I'm really disappointed for my teammates. They put their trust in me to make those shots and I feel like I let them down a lot."
Iowa State, playing its first game under new head coach Steve Prohm, extended its lead to 14 points before the Buffs once again stormed back, getting consecutive 3-pointers from King and another from Dom Collier in an 11-0 run that brought CU within three points with about 10 minutes to play.
The Buffs couldn't get any closer the rest of the way though, as a number of turnovers led to easy Iowa State baskets at the other end. Turnovers were one of CU's biggest issues a year ago and the Buffs finished with 18 on Friday, giving Boyle a huge talking point ahead of Tuesday's date at Auburn.
"We're going to take this anger and showcase it on Tuesday night," King said. "We watched lots of film and we knew (Iowa State) was a transition team. They turn defense into offense. We turned the ball over some, and they made points out of it. That's one thing we have to work on and get better at."
No. 7 IOWA ST. 68, COLORADO 62
Gordon 2-7 0-0 4, Fletcher 1-4 2-2 5, Collier 5-9 0-0 13, Scott 5-16 1-3 11, Fortune 3-8 0-0 7, Akyazili 1-3 0-0 2, Talton 1-5 2-2 4, Guzonjic 0-0 0-0 0, Miller 1-2 0-0 2, King 4-9 2-4 14. Totals 23-63 7-11 62.
IOWA ST. (1-0)
McKay 4-9 0-3 8, Nader 6-13 2-2 14, Morris 5-12 2-4 12, Mitrou-Long 5-9 1-2 13, Niang 7-14 3-4 17, Cooke 0-1 0-0 0, Thomas 2-7 0-0 4. Totals 29-65 8-15 68.
Halftime -- Iowa St. 30-25. 3-point goals -- Colorado 9-23 (King 4-8, Collier 3-5, Fletcher 1-2, Fortune 1-3, Scott 0-1, Akyazili 0-2, Talton 0-2), Iowa St. 2-10 (Mitrou-Long 2-5, Morris 0-1, Thomas 0-2, Nader 0-2). F ouled out -- Gordon. Rebounds -- Colorado 38 (Scott 11), Iowa St. 43 (McKay 10). Assists -- Colorado 14 (Talton 4), Iowa St. 12 (Morris 4). Total fouls -- Colorado 21, Iowa St. 18. A -- 3,200.