The glut of turnovers throughout the first half was both familiar and alarming for the Colorado men's basketball team. But the turnaround after the break certainly was encouraging.
Following a mistake-filled first half during an exhibition match against Colorado Mines, the Buffaloes finally put it together after halftime, completing the competitive portion of the preseason with a 66-57 victory Saturday afternoon at the CU Events Center.
When the Buffs resume practice on Tuesday, they will have a week to review and correct the mistakes on display Saturday before hosting Drake in the season opener on Nov. 13.
The Buffs, who finished in a three-way tie for ninth in the Pac-12 Conference last year in assist-to-turnover ratio, committed eight turnovers in the first half that led to an additional 10 points for Mines and a 33-27 lead at the break for the Orediggers. CU committed just three after halftime, none of which led to further points for Mines.
"We had eight at halftime and 11 for the game. Eleven is our number. We want 11 or less, so we hit that," CU head coach Tad Boyle said. "If we can play with three turnovers in the first half like we had in the second half, now we've got six for the game and now we can really crank it up a little bit. We can live with that number for sure. The first half was too many. We had five assists and eight turnovers in the first half. We've got to flip that around.
"But 11 for the game we can live with. Our players can learn from second half versus first half. Why we had success in the second half and why we didn't have success in the first half. Taking care of the ball was part of that. Guarding the ball was another part of that."
The Buffs' rally in the second provided an example of team getting the job done via defense and rebounding when shots aren't falling — a frequent tenet of Boyle's. CU outrebounded the Orediggers 48-36 overall and 25-17 after halftime. The Buffs also turned up the intensity defensively after Mines shot .406 in the first half with a 6-for-12 mark on 3-pointers.
Mines' second-half shooting percentage dropped to .286 (8-for-28), though the Orediggers still went a respectable 5-for-13 on 3-pointers after halftime.
"You always have got to learn from our mistakes, and work on it and come to practice every day and work hard," sophomore forward Tyler Bey said. "Everybody's got to crash. Everybody has got to do their job. Even when we're not making shots, you've got to do something besides scoring to help the team."
CU used a 10-0 run early in the second half to take the lead for good, getting six of those points at the free throw line and the rest on a pair of baskets from junior Lucas Siewert. Mines remained within three points minutes later, but the Buffs reeled off another 10-0 run capped by six straight points from McKinley Wright to stay in control.
Bey posted a double-double with 16 points and 11 rebounds, while Wright finished with 14 points, eight assists, and no turnovers in 29 minutes. Siewert went 2-for-3 on 3-pointers and finished with 12 points and six rebounds.
"It doesn't matter who you're playing, there's a lot of good basketball players in this world. Some of them are playing at the Division II level, and we saw a couple of them tonight," Boyle said. "Mines is going to win a lot of games this year. We're going to play against teams that are bigger, taller, more athletic, and when we do we'd better figure some things out. But we may not play against a team that really executes, especially this time of year, the way those guys were out there tonight."
Colorado 66, Colorado Mines 57
At CU Events Center
Sullivan 3-6 0-0 8, Glen 1-9 0-2 2, Clare 2-4 2-4 6, Baker 4-12 1-2 11, Sonnefeld 7-16 1-3 18, Miks 2-6 0-0 6, Boone 2-6 0-0 6, Means 0-0 0-0 0, Golter 0-0 0-0 0, Dykema 0-1 0-0 0, Walker 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 21-6 4-11 57.
Bey 6-9 3-4 16, Battey 2-10 3-4 7, Gatling 1-6 2-2 4, Schwartz 2-3 0-0 5, M. Wright 7-13 0-0 14, Kountz 0-4 2-2 2, Strating 1-1 0-0 2, N. Wright 0-5 3-4 3, Dombek 0-0 0-0 0, Siewert 5-9 0-1 12, Parquet 0-1 1-4 1. Totals 24-61 14-22 66.
Halftime — Colorado Mines 33, Colorado 27. 3-point field goals — Mines 11-25 (Sonnefeld 3-7, Miks 2-5, Baker 2-5, Boone 2-4, Sullivan 2-2, Glen 0-2); Colorado 4-16 (Siewert 2-3, Bey 1-1, Schwartz 1-2, Gatling 0-4, N. Wright 0-3, Battey 0-2, M. Wright 0-1). Rebounds — Mines 36 (Clare 9); Colorado 48 (Bey 11). Assists — Mines 11 (Sonnefeld 5); Colorado 12 (M. Wright 8). Total fouls — Mines 14; Colorado 17.