What went right: CU dominated down the stretch, outscoring No. 22 Texas 14-3 over the final 5 minutes, 8 seconds. The Buffs' defense held Texas to a 3-for-17 mark on 3-pointers.
CWhat went wrong: CU recorded just seven assists against 13 turnovers, with the Longhorns turning the giveaways into 16 points.
Star of the game: Derrick White. The senior guard was a calming influence down the stretch, finishing with a 7-for-10 mark from the field and a team-best 16 points.
What's next: The Buffs return home to face Wofford Sunday at noon at the Coors Events Center.
BROOKLYN, N.Y. — It was a turn of events that far too often led to disaster last year for the Colorado men's basketball team.
With a little more than five minutes remaining in Tuesday's battle against No. 22 Texas, the Longhorns trimmed what had been a 12-point CU lead earlier in the second half down to three points.
That sort of late unraveling thwarted the Buffs frequently during the 2015-16 season, most notably in losses against SMU, Utah, USC and, in a first-round NCAA Tournament loss, UConn.
In an encouraging sign for the 2016-17 Buffs, CU was able to flip the script at the Barclays Center, outscoring the Longhorns 14-3 down the stretch to post a 68-54 win in the team's final game of the Legends Classic.
"They sped us up with their press. We knew their press was going to come at some point," CU head coach Tad Boyle said. "Guard play, I think Derrick (White) was terrific. We made some good decisions in terms of attacking and getting to the free throw line, but then also when we didn't have anything pulling it out.
"It was nice to see us kind of bow our back a little bit when they cut it to three. We kept our poise. We kept our composure. Again guard play — being able to pass, being able to catch, being able to take care of the ball late in the game — is what allows you to hold on to leads. Last year we struggled with that. This year, having a guy like Derrick out there is a real calming influence for his teammates and certainly for his coach."
CU (4-1) built a 33-24 halftime lead behind a 26-15 first half rebounding advantage that included a 14-0 edge for the Buffs in second-chance points.
The Buffs extended the lead to 12 after a George King 3-pointer with 7 minutes, 56 seconds remaining, but Texas promptly reeled off an 11-2 run to pull within three with 5:12 to go.
Unlike last year, however, the Buffs didn't buckle. Consecutive baskets by Josh Fortune and Wesley Gordon started CU on its game-clinching 14-3 run, with all four of the team's fifth-year seniors — Fortune, Gordon, White, and Xavier Johnson — combining to score all 14 of those points down the stretch.
"We're a real experienced team, so we just kind of settled down when they made the run," White said. "We didn't freak out like maybe a younger team would. That experience kind of helped today."
King, who owned one double-double in his career prior to CU's trip to Brooklyn, turned in his second in a row with 12 points and 13 rebounds, matching his career-best rebounding performance in Monday's loss against Notre Dame. White went 7-for-10 from the floor and paced CU with 16 points to go with five rebounds, two assists, two blocks, and two steals.
Fortune added 11 points in another balanced scoring effort from the Buffs, who had nine different players contribute at least three points.
Defensively the Buffs were much improved from the previous day's effort against Notre Dame, harassing Texas into a 3-for-17 mark from 3-point range and finishing with a 41-32 rebounding edge.
"We needed that one," Boyle said. "It's crazy to think in November it's a must-win, but that's how I felt approaching this game today for our team in terms of what it meant down the road. When you come to a place like this, you don't want to go home 0-2. The guys really responded."
COLORADO 68, No. 22 TEXAS 54
Allen 6-9 3-4 15, Cleare 3-8 2-2 8, Yancy 0-3 1-2 1, Roach 6-16 3-4 16, Davis 3-11 0-0 7, Jones 2-4 0-0 4, Young 0-0 0-0 0, Mack 1-6 0-0 3. Totals 21-57 9-12 54.
Gordon 3-11 0-0 6, King 5-9 1-1 12, White 7-10 1-1 16, Fortune 4-10 2-2 11, Johnson 3-8 0-0 7, Siewert 1-4 0-0 3, Miller 2-4 0-0 4, Brown 1-1 0-1 3, Peters 0-4 0-0 0, Akyazili 3-4 0-0 6. Totals 29-65 4-5 68.
Halftime — Colorado 33-24. 3-Point Goals — Texas 3-17 (Roach 1-4, Mack 1-6, Davis 1-6, Yancy 0-1), Colorado 6-14 (Brown 1-1, White 1-1, Johnson 1-1, King 1-2, Siewert 1-3, Fortune 1-5, Peters 0-1). Fouled Out — None. Rebounds — Texas 28 (Cleare 7), Colorado 37 (King 13). Assists — Texas 4 (Jones, Roach, Mack, Davis 1), Colorado 7 (White, Gordon 2). Total Fouls — Texas 11, Colorado 15.