What went right: Very little for the Buffs, though a 13-3 run to close the first half and an 11-2 run in the second half briefly kept CU within striking distance.
What went wrong: Turnovers and 3-point defense. The Buffs committed eight turnovers within the first 7:08 of the game, and Xavier finished with a 9-for-14 mark from long range.
Star of the game: Namon Wright. The junior guard came off the bench to go 7-for-13 from the field and 4-for-4 at the free throw line, finishing with a team-leading 20 points along with a career-best six steals.
What's next: The Buffs return home to play the University of San Diego for the first time since 1992 on Tuesday (6 p.m., Pac-12 Network).
CINCINNATI — If the 2017-18 college basketball season is treated as one long educational crash course of the youthful Colorado Buffaloes, then count Saturday's thrashing at the hands of Xavier as a painful learning lesson.
At least the Buffs got a front-row view of how the game is played at the highest level.
A monstrous hole CU dug for itself in the opening stages of the first half proved far too much for the Buffs to overcome on Saturday, as No. 13-ranked Xavier rolled to a 96-69 victory at the Cintas Center.
An early glut of turnovers, combined from another red-hot effort from one of the top shooting teams in the nation, erased a commendable effort by the Buffs at rallying in the second half.
"We have to learn from this. We have a lot of young guys out there that this is an opportunity for them to say, 'OK, this is how college basketball is played at the highest level,'" CU head coach Tad Boyle said. "We've got a lot of guys who don't quite understand that right now. But they will.
"We learned a valuable lesson today and Xavier taught it to us. We'll take our whipping and go home."
Starting two true freshmen (McKinley Wright, Lazar Nikolic), a redshirt freshman (Dallas Walton), and sophomore Deleon Brown in a sold-out, hostile arena, CU committed eight turnovers in the first 7 minutes, 13 seconds of the game. Though the Buffs committed just eight more the rest of the way, a Xavier team that entered the contest ranked second in the nation in field goal percentage was all too happy to take advantage of CU's giveaways.
Xavier shot 18-for-32 in the first half and knocked down six of its first seven 3-point attempts, building a lead that reached 26 points with five minutes remaining in the opening period. CU was outrebounded by a modest 36-32 mark and shot .385 from the floor, but the opening sequence ruined what already was an immensely thin margin for error in any CU upset bid.
Xavier finished 9-for-14 on 3-pointers.
"Nine for 14 is not very good, but a lot of that was our breakdowns defensively," Boyle said. "Coming into this game we knew we were going to have to have a high level of concentration and a high level of toughness. We had neither."
The Buffs managed to close the first half with a 13-3 run, cutting Xavier's lead to 49-33 at the break, and CU eventually whittled the deficit to 13 with an 11-2 run sparked by a pair of long 3-pointers by senior Dom Collier. Xavier, though, took a timeout with 11:02 remaining and immediately regrouped, scoring the next eight points in a 20-4 run that put the Buffs away.
Xavier All-American candidate Trevon Bluiett went 8-for-14 before finishing with 25 points and seven rebounds. Namon Wright paced the Buffs with 20 points off the bench and McKinley Wright added 16 points and five assists. Senior George King struggled from the field, going 5-for-15 overall and 1-for-5 on 3-pointers, but he finished with 15 points and became the 34th CU player to reach the 1,000-point mark in his career.
"We just had a slow start, and they started fast. They got the momentum and it the snowball effect after that," King said. "I thought we did a good job of actually cutting into the lead in the first half, and then in the second half we cut into it some more. We've just got to string stops and play our game."
No. 13 XAVIER 96, COLORADO 69
Walton 1-4 2-2 4, Nikolic 1-4 0-0 2, King 5-15 4-4 15, Brown 2-6 0-0 6, M.Wright 7-15 1-2 16, Siewert 0-2 0-0 0, N.Wright 7-13 4-4 20, Collier 2-5 0-0 6, Schwartz 0-1 0-0 0, Bey 0-0 0-2 0. Totals 25-65 11-14 69.
Jones 4-7 3-4 11, Gates 2-3 0-0 6, Goodin 5-8 0-0 10, Macura 6-8 2-2 17, Bluiett 8-14 6-7 25, O'Mara 4-6 2-4 10, Marshall 3-4 3-4 9, Kanter 1-5 0-1 3, Scruggs 2-3 1-2 5, Harden 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 35-58 17-24 96.
Halftime — Xavier 49-33. 3-Point Goals — Colorado 8-28 (Brown 2-4, Collier 2-4, N.Wright 2-5, King 1-5, M.Wright 1-5, Schwartz 0-1, Nikolic 0-1, Walton 0-1, Siewert 0-2), Xavier 9-14 (Macura 3-3, Bluiett 3-6, Gates 2-3, Kanter 1-2). Fouled Out — None. Rebounds — Colorado 28 (King 8), Xavier 33 (Jones, Bluiett 7). Assists — Colorado 8 (M.Wright 5), Xavier 16 (Goodin 8). Total Fouls — Colorado 19, Xavier 18.