It was an interesting night, to say the least, for Colorado Buffaloes sophomore Tory Miller.
Miller went from enjoying an unexpected first start of the season to being shown the exit early after getting tangled up with Air Force's Hayden Graham in the second half. Miller was ejected after it was determined he had bitten Graham on the shoulder while the duo battled for a loose ball. The replay already was making the rounds on national highlight shows within an hour after CU completed an 81-70 win Wednesday night against Air Force.
Officials reviewed the play after Graham showed them the mark Miller apparently left on his shoulder. He was assessed a flagrant 2 foul, which results in an automatic ejection.
"Tory is an emotional player and there was something in the scrum there," CU coach Tad Boyle said. "We'll deal with it. Tory is a great kid. He's an emotional player. He's a competitive player. And he needs to keep his emotions and those competitive juices in check. Tonight they maybe got the best of him, but he'll be fine."
In what had to be a disconcerting decision for CU head coach Tad Boyle, Miller was given his first start of the year and just the second of his career when junior forward Wesley Gordon was late to the team's pre-game meal.
Gordon continued his early struggles on offense, missing his lone field goal attempt and managing just one point, though he did grab a team-leading eight rebounds. The team's leader in field goal percentage a year ago, Gordon is now shooting just .346 (9-for-26) through the first five games.
Miller finished with two points and three rebounds in 13 minutes before his early exit.
Brady breaking out
For the second time in three games, Boyle gave meaningful playing time to senior walk-on guard Brett Brady. He responded by knocking down a 3-pointer during the Buffs' game-breaking 21-6 run that closed the first half.
"Brett's a really good shooter, one of our best shooters quite frankly, and while they're in zone we said, 'Hey, let's steal a few minutes,'" Boyle said. "Our guys know how good a shooter Brett is. He got that first open look and knocked it down. Really proud of him for being ready. He wasn't expecting to go in, but you never know what the game is going to dictate. I've got a lot of faith in him."
Brady's three points matched a career-high set twice during a pair of November non-conference games two years ago.
Billed as the sort of player that could give the Buffs a legitimate threat from 3-point range, Providence transfer Josh Fortune recorded the best shooting performance of his five-game CU career. After failing to connect from long-range the previous two games, Fortune made 5-of-8 3-point shots and finished with 18 points.
Fortune also grabbed six rebounds and turned in an electrifying put-back dunk in the first half.
"I've been to the gym almost every night trying to get my rhythm back," Fortune said. "With that being said, it's just playing with an pen mind and playing free and as team, and good things will happen."
Pristine point play
None of them lit up the scoresheet, but CU's three-headed point guard rotation of Dom Collier, Xavier Talton, and freshman Thomas Akyazili did a commendable job of running the Buffs' offense.
Akyazili turned in the best game of his young career, making all three shots and finishing with eight points and four rebounds. Collier chipped in with seven points, and combined the three guards committed just two turnovers in a total of 49 minutes.
The Buffs will be off on Thanksgiving before reconvening for practice Friday to being preparations for Sunday's battle against Northern Colorado ... CU outrebounded AFA 38-31 ... The Buffs have won six consecutive games against Air Force.