What went right: Very little, though CU held Texas to a .308 mark from the field in the second half.
What went wrong: The Buffs were off from the opening tip, finishing with a .327 shooting percentage with a 4-for-17 mark on 3-pointers. It was the second-lowest shooting percentage of the season for CU.
Star of the game: Tyler Bey. The sophomore forward shook off an 0-for-6 start to post the 17th double-double of his breakout season, finishing with 18 points and 13 rebounds.
What's next: The offseason begins for the Buffs, who finished the season with a 23-13 record.
AUSTIN, Texas — — Endings never are joyous affairs. Yet after putting together a stirring late-season run that turned what looked like a lost season in late January to one that has heightened expectations, this was particularly jarring.
On Wednesday, the dud of a finale was a harsh one for the Colorado men's basketball team, as Texas used an inspired first-half defensive effort to jump on the Buffaloes early in what turned into a 68-55 CU loss in the quarterfinals of the NIT.
After sitting at 11-9 with a 2-6 mark in Pac-12 Conference play following a Jan. 31 home loss against Oregon State, the Buffs finished 23-13, winning two games apiece at the Pac-12 tournament and in the NIT before the run came to a sudden halt against a former Big 12 Conference rival.
Texas will face in-state rival TCU in the NIT semifinals next week in New York.
"Texas was really good tonight. My hat goes off to them," CU head coach Tad Boyle said. "I thought they took the fight to us right out of the gate. Their length and their speed and their athleticism gave us problems that we didn't handle very well. We had opportunities, in the first half especially, at the rim that we couldn't finish. We didn't handle it well offensively all night."
Despite a slow start the Buffs trailed just 14-13 with 10 minutes, 31 seconds remaining in the first half after a Shane Gatling free throw. From there, though, the rest of the first half was all Texas. The Longhorns scored the next 15 consecutive points while outscoring CU 30-6 until halftime, taking a 44-19 lead into the break.
Texas left the door open, however slightly, for a potential CU comeback with a five-minute scoring drought to open the second half. However, the Buffs missed too many open looks to take advantage, getting no closer than 15 points before a late flurry that simply added decoration to the final score.
CU matched a season-low point total, and the final shooting percentage of .327 was the second-lowest of the season, trailing only the .321 mark the Buffs posted against Washington two weeks ago at the Pac-12 tourney.
"We weren't getting shots up at the rim. That caused us to have some bad turnovers," CU point guard McKinley Wright said. "On the defensive end, I thought we were playing good defense and they made a lot of tough shots. They were getting tough shots over (Tyler) Bey, who has a 7-2 wingspan. When they're making shots like that, it's tough."
It was a frustrating and forgettable night for a number of the Buffs' regulars. Bey missed his first six shots, though he did recover enough to post his 17th double-double of the season with 18 points and 13 rebounds. Evan Battey committed two fouls in the first 1:53 and never got into the flow of the game, finishing 0-for-5 with only two points and three rebounds. Gatling, playing on a sore ankle, went 0-for-4 and recorded just one point, completing a season-ending slump that saw the junior guard shoot 3-for-23 over the last four games.
Afterward Boyle said there were no tears in the CU locker room — not because the loss didn't sting, but because that disappointment is balanced by the excitement of a team set to return everyone while regaining the services of injured 7-footer Dallas Walton and adding player to be named later in the spring with the open scholarship still in Boyle's back pocket.
"I think the last couple games of the season is just kind of a preview of this team at a high level next year," said sophomore D'Shawn Schwartz, who recorded 11 points. "Being that we have all the same guys next year, we're just going to build on that and keep this chemistry rolling."
Battey 0-5 2-2 2, M.Wright 4-9 1-2 11, Gatling 0-4 1-2 1, Bey 7-15 4-4 18, Schwartz 5-11 0-0 11, Siewert 0-2 2-2 2, Strating 0-1 1-2 1, Kountz 2-6 4-4 9, Parquet 0-2 0-0 0. Totals 18-55 15-18 55.TEXAS (19-16)
Osetkowski 7-11 0-0 15, Sims 1-4 1-2 3, Febres 1-6 0-0 3, Ramey 3-9 3-6 11, Coleman 4-7 0-0 11, Hepa 1-3 0-0 2, Liddell 1-3 0-0 3, Hamm 1-3 0-0 2, Mitrou-Long 2-4 0-0 4, Roach 5-12 3-4 14, Whiteside 0-0 0-0 0, Nevins 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 26-62 7-12 68.Colorado 19 36 — 55
Texas 44 24 — 68
3-Point Goals — Colorado 4-17 (M.Wright 2-4, Kountz 1-3, Schwartz 1-6, Siewert 0-1, Gatling 0-1, Parquet 0-2), Texas 9-22 (Coleman 3-5, Ramey 2-2, Osetkowski 1-2, Liddell 1-2, Roach 1-3, Febres 1-5, Mitrou-Long 0-1, Hepa 0-2). Fouled Out — None. Rebounds — Colorado 36 (Bey 13), Texas 37 (Sims 10). Assists — Colorado 6 (M.Wright 3), Texas 11 (Osetkowski, Roach 3). Total Fouls — Colorado 18, Texas 20. A — 3,982 (16,540).