At various times this season, Namon Wright has been both a significant difference-maker and an almost invisible presence for the Colorado men's basketball team.
On Thursday night Wright came to play.
The junior transfer from Missouri was a central figure in a monumental win for the Buffaloes, who knocked off fourth-ranked Arizona State with a 90-81 overtime victory at the Coors Events Center. It was the second big game in a row from Wright, who hopes he has turned a corner after an up-and-down start to his CU career.
"I think I had such a rough stretch the first five or six games of the season," Wright said. "I left Virginia (in the Paradise Jam) 0-for-10 from the 3-point line. I was driving a lot and I wasn't hitting threes. I'm a good shooter and my teammates encourage me. With me, it's just staying locked in and confident. You've just got to stay to it and stay confident."
Wright actually went 1-for-8 on 3-pointers during CU's three wins at the Paradise Jam, but his assessment nonetheless was on target. Until the past two games Wright has balanced some game-turning performances (19 points in a win against Drake, 20 points on the road against nationally-ranked Xavier) with duds like his four-point, two-turnover showing in last week's loss at Oregon State.
Wright came off the bench to spark the Buffs Thursday night, sharing the team lead with 19 points while going 7-for-12 overall with a 2-for-3 mark on 3-pointers. After scoring in single-digits five times in an eight-game stretch, Wright has now scored 39 points over the past two games while going 15-for-25 from the field with a 5-for-8 effort on 3-pointers.
Wright also didn't commit a turnover against ASU in 31 minutes after entering the game with a turnover total (28) that was more than double his assist total (13). He also grabbed seven rebounds, his best total as a Buffalo.
"We've been on a losing streak, but I think we were pretty focused and we knew what we had to do," Wright said. "We just had to bring energy and not be afraid to challenge guys. We have to challenge each other to be better, and I think we did that this past week."
CU head coach Tad Boyle had high praise for the raucous environment Thursday night at the Coors Events Center, even with the students still on winter break.
"Crowd was awesome," Boyle said. "The fans were terrific and I'm very appreciative of everybody that came out. The people that didn't missed a heck of a game."
The announced attendance of 7,740 matched the highest of the season at the Coors Events Center. CU also drew 7,740 for the season opener against Northern Colorado.
Thursday's win was the 16th time CU has defeated a ranked foe in Boyle's eight seasons as head coach...Former Utah Jazz guard and former CU star Alec Burks, in Colorado to face the Nuggets Friday night, was in attendance...Dallas Walton recorded a season-best three blocked shots. The Buffs' six blocked shots as a team matched a season-high previously set at Xavier...After an 0-for-6 start on 3-pointers, CU went 10-for-20 the rest of the way...The Buffs finished with more assists (16) than turnovers (14) for just the fifth time this season.