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.
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.
“It's really easy when you have guys that can shoot,” said Scott, the son of two AFA graduates who now owns a 4-0 career mark against the Falcons. “In years past, I'm not going to say we didn't have shooters, but this year we do have shooters. Josh Fortune obviously being one of them. That really just helps me out a lot. You don't have to worry when you garner so much attention. It's nice for those guys because they get wide-open shots.”
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.
Scott also added six quick points early in the second half as CU extended its lead to 26 points. Scott finished with 21 points and seven rebounds while going 6-for-7 from the floor. After a rough opening game, Scott has put together a scintillating .774 shooting percentage (24-for-31) over the past four contests.
CU finished 13-for-25 from 3-point range.
“I thought we did a great job of playing inside-out, which is something we always talk about doing,” Boyle said. “We want to get our post guys involved…and they didn't get shots early because they were doubling the post. But we got it kicked back out, penetrated the second time, we got some wide-open threes and knocked them down.
“That's a strength we knew we knew with this team — we're going have some guys perimeter guys that can knock down shots around those post guys, and they did a good job of that tonight.”
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.
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.
“We took some strides forward offensively tonight,” Boyle said.
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, Boyle's former home before moving to Boulder in 2010.