What went right: The Buffs took advantage of Air Force's early zone look defensively to light it up from 3-point range, making eight in the first half and 13 overall.
What went wrong: There's clamping down defensively, and then there is the bite Tory Miller delivered to Air Force's Hayden Graham while battling for a loose ball. After a review the officials ruled it a Flagrant 2 foul and an automatic ejection for Miller.
Star of the game: Josh Scott. It was no coincidence the Buffs started to put AFA away when the senior forward began to assert himself offensively. Scott finished 6-for-7 from the floor with 21 points and seven rebounds.
What's next?: CU hosts Northern Colorado on Sunday at 1 p.m.
By utilizing a zone defense early and collapsing fervently every time Colorado's Josh Scott got his hands on the ball in the paint, the Air Force Academy made it clear they weren't going to let the Buffaloes' big man beat them.
It was a sound strategy for the undersized Falcons, yet one that failed miserably. And it still didn't keep Scott from getting his fill by the time the Buffs put the finishing touches on an 81-70 non-conference victory Wednesday night at the Coors Events Center.
It was the Buffs' fourth straight win after opening the season with a loss against No. 4 Iowa State. CU continues its homestand Sunday against Northern Colorado, the former home of Buffs head coach Tad Boyle.
Air Force opted to give the Buffaloes room to roam along the 3-point arc, and CU gladly took advantage. The Buffs knocked down 13 3-pointers, with six different players getting in on the long-range frenzy.
The Falcons (3-2) were able to hand around early and CU held a one-point lead at 25-24 when the Buffs took command. After managing to hold Scott scoreless through the first 12 minutes, the senior forward scored 10 points during a 21-6 run to close the first half that gave the hosts a 46-30 advantage at the break.
"It is really easy when you have guys that can shoot. In years past, I won't say we didn't have shooters, this year we do have shooters," Scott said. "Josh Fortune obviously being one of them. That really just helps me out. You don't have to worry when you garner so much attention. It is nice for those guys because they get wide open shots."
Scott also added six quick points early in the second half as CU extended its lead to 26 points.
Defensively, CU put together a terrific effort against Air Force leading scorer Trevor Lyons. The sophomore guard entered the game averaging 17.3 points a game, but the Buffs held Lyons without a field goal until over nine minutes had passed in the second half, and he finished with just four points.
Once again the Buffs enjoyed balanced scoring, with Scott leading the way with 21 points on a 6-for-7 performance from the floor. Scott also grabbed seven rebounds. Josh Fortune led CU's 3-point salvo by going 5-for-8 from 3-point range, finishing with 18 points and six rebounds.
George King turned in another solid all-around game for CU, recording 16 points while going 3-for-4 from 3-point range. Freshman guard Thomas Akyazili had a nice game off the bench for the Buffs, making all three of his shots before finishing with a line of eight points, four assists, and no turnovers in 18 minutes.
COLORADO 81, AIR FORCE 70
AIR FORCE (3-2)
Tuss 1-5 2-2 5, Graham 4-11 1-2 11, Moer 6-7 1-2 13, Kocur 5-10 1-4 12, Lyons 1-6 1-4 4, Norman 0-1 0-0 0, Siples 3-8 0-0 7, Van 1-1 0-0 2, Louder 0-2 0-0 0, James 2-5 0-2 5, Broekhuis 2-2 0-0 6, Manning 0-2 2-2 2, Toohey 1-2 0-0 3, Leonard 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 26-62 8-18 70.
Miller 1-2 0-0 2, Scott 6-7 9-11 21, Fletcher 1-7 0-0 3, Collier 2-4 2-2 7, King 5-11 3-3 16, Akyazili 3-3 0-1 8, Gordon 0-1 1-2 1, Talton 0-1 2-2 2, Guzonjic 0-1 0-0 0, Brady 1-2 0-0 3, Fortune 6-9 1-2 18. Totals 25-48 18-23 81.
Halftime — Colorado 46-30. 3-point goals — Air Force 10-22 (Broekhuis 2-2, Graham 2-3, Lyons 1-1, Siples 1-1, James 1-2, Toohey 1-2, Kocur 1-3, Tuss 1-4, Norman 0-1, Manning 0-1, Louder 0-2), Colorado 13-25 (Fortune 5-8, King 3-4, Akyazili 2-2, Brady 1-2, Collier 1-2, Fletcher 1-5, Guzonjic 0-1, Talton 0-1). Fouled out — None. Rebounds — Air Force 31 (Graham 8), Colorado 38 (Gordon 8). Assists — Air Force 15 (Kocur 6), Colorado 15 (Akyazili 4). Total fouls_Air Force 21, Colorado 17. Technical_Miller. A_7,698.