An early start and an inspired opponent nearly spelled disaster for the Colorado men's basketball team on Sunday.
The Buffaloes' big men made sure the day didn't end badly against the University of Nebraska-Omaha.
Josh Scott had 14 points, 12 rebounds and three blocks and spurred a second-half comeback and Wesley Gordon had 12 points and three blocks as CU survived a scare but beat the Mavericks 87-82 at the Coors Events Center.
It was a tougher-than-expected challenge from UNO, and one that had coach Tad Boyle simmering after the game.
"Without Josh Scott and Wesley Gordon we lose by 20, 25 points," he said. "We weren't very good but we did what we had to do to win the game. I'm not sure we deserved it but we'll take it."
George King had 14 of his 16 points in the second half and Tre'Shaun Fletcher scored nine of his 15 points during CU's decisive second-half run that put down the feisty Mavericks.
It was Scott's second double-double of the season and the 25th of his career. He is tied with David Harrison for 10th all-time in school history.
CU (3-1) outrebounded the Mavericks 52-35 and were 34-for-46 from the line to overcome 38.7 percent shooting.
Boyle was upset with his team's defensive effort, pointing out the Mavericks had "17 layups" in the game and absolving Scott and Gordon of blame.
"I'm not calling those guys out," Boyle said. "They were terrific defensively and rebounded their tails off. The rest of us have some soul searching to do."
The subpar effort allowed the Mavericks to hang around early and take a big lead at the start of the second half.
UNO led 38-32 at halftime and quickly pushed the advantage to 13 on Jake White's jumper and three-point play. Scott hit two quick buckets to spark a 15-4 run that got the Buffs within 49-47.
Devin Patterson and Tim Smallwood hit jumpers to keep the Mavericks in the lead but Scott's two free throws pulled the Buffs even for the first time since midway through the first half.
That's when Fletcher stepped up. His jumper with 9:48 left gave CU its first lead since early in the first half, and his 3-pointer to beat the shot clock made it 60-55.
"My teammates found me and I started knocking down shots," Fletcher said.
He had two free throws and another jumper made it 67-57. The Mavericks got within six with 3:37 left but Dom Collier's 3-pointer made it 73-64.
The Mavericks, who had five players in double figures, clawed back when Patterson hit two 3-pointers in a span of five seconds to make it 83-80 with 29 seconds left.
Collier and Gordon hit four free throws down the stretch to seal the win.
Fletcher said it was tough to adjust to the noon start, adding "I knew we were going to adjust to it, it was a matter of when."
That didn't sit well with Boyle.
"Shame on Tre'Shaun," he said. "That's garbage. Give me a break, Tre'Shaun. It's noon for everybody."
The Buffs led 17-15 with 11:42 left in the first half but the Mavericks were in control until intermission. CU was 2-for-13 from the field down the stretch and just 9-for-27 in the first half.
Patterson 8-18 1-4 19, Thurman 5-11 3-3 13, Jackson 3-4 0-1 6, Hollins 6-11 2-2 14, White 7-14 1-1 16, Gibson 1-4 0-0 2, Reed 0-0 0-0 0, Erickson 0-1 0-0 0, Smallwood 3-6 2-2 10, Meyer 1-2 0-0 2, Pirog 0-1 0-2 0. Totals 34-72 9-15 82.
Gordon 4-9 4-4 12, Fletcher 3-8 7-8 15, Collier 3-8 6-6 13, Scott 5-8 4-4 14, Fortune 1-5 0-2 2, Akyazili 1-5 0-0 3, Talton 1-3 6-6 9, Guzonjic 0-1 0-0 0, Miller 0-3 3-8 3, King 6-12 4-8 16, Brady 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 24-62 34-46 87.
Halftime — Nebraska-Omaha 38-32. 3-point goals — Nebraska-Omaha 5-14 (Smallwood 2-5, Patterson 2-5, White 1-1, Gibson 0-1, Hollins 0-2), Colorado 5-18 (Fletcher 2-6, Talton 1-1, Akyazili 1-3, Collier 1-3, Scott 0-1, Miller 0-1, King 0-3). Fouled out — Fortune, Jackson. Rebounds — Nebraska-Omaha 35 (Hollins 8), Colorado 52 (Scott 12). Assists — Nebraska-Omaha 12 (Hollins 8), Colorado 9 (Gordon, Scott 2). Total fouls_Nebraska-Omaha 30, Colorado 18. A_NA.