FORT COLLINS -- The first half of Tuesday's game at Moby Arena wasn't a pretty one for any of the Colorado Buffaloes.
It certainly wasn't a good one for freshman Jaron Hopkins, who had two fouls and two points in five minutes of play.
"My confidence was a little shook at the beginning," Hopkins said, "but good thing I stepped it up at the end, because now I think coach will have more confidence in me later in games."
Hopkins' performance late in the second half was a big reason the Buffs came away with a 67-62 victory against rival Colorado State. He finished with 10 points, four rebounds and two steals.
With 7:18 to go and the Buffs trailing 53-50, Hopkins had a steal near mid-court and took it down court for a dunk. CU head coach Tad Boyle said that was the play of the game for CU.
"It was pretty big," Hopkins said. "I read the play. I'm pretty good at reading the plays, so I read it and it worked out for me."
Nearly three minutes later, the Buffs trailed 55-52 when Hopkins buried a 3-pointer. Less than a minute later, he hit another one to give CU a 58-57 lead.
"He's been working on it," Boyle said of Hopkins' 3-point shooting. "Shooting is all about confidence. You've got to feel like you're going to make it when you shoot it and he's feeling it right now."
Through the first seven games, Hopkins was 2-for-9 from beyond the arc. He's now 5-for-7 in the last two games.
CU's Wesley Gordon had just one point on Tuesday night, but Boyle was impressed with how the 6-foot-9 redshirt freshman played. Gordon had eight rebounds, two steals and spent the night guarding CSU's 6-foot-7 J.J. Avila.
"I thought Wesley Gordon's defensive performance on Avila was terrific," Boyle said.
Avila had 16 points, but made just 4 of 19 shots from the floor.
There were 8,268 fans in attendance, many of them Rams faithful who spent the night giving the Buffs an earful. It was the type of environment Boyle wanted to take his team into during non-conference play.
"This was a big-time atmosphere," he said. "Quite frankly, for college basketball to be as good as it needs to be in this state, they should have this kind of atmosphere every time this team plays, because this team deserves it. I think we've built that in Boulder, because our fans have really turned out, even for the non-big games.
"Non-conference games are supposed to help you prepare for conference play and this game tonight helped us get better."
CU leads the all-time series with the Rams, 88-36. ... CSU made just 33.3 percent (19-for-57) of its shots, the worst percentage for a CU opponent this season. CU has held four opponents below 39 percent. ... CU was out-rebounded 40-38, just the second time this season they've been out-boarded (also vs. Baylor). ... After going 7-for-13 at the free throw line in the first half, the Buffs were 11-for-11 in the second half. ... Aside from Hopkins, the rest of the Buffs were 1-for-17 from 3-point range. ... This is the first time in CU history that the Buffs have defeated Front Range foes Air Force, CSU and Wyoming in the same season.