Tyler Bey still is a young player coming into his own. Yet Saturday's performance showed just how far the Colorado sophomore forward has matured in just one year.
The miserable first half Bey endured during Saturday's rivalry battle against Colorado State might have sent the player that arrived at CU last year into a shell. Instead, Bey erupted in the second half, scoring 21 of his career-high 23 points after halftime to help spark the Buffs' 86-80 victory.
"I didn't have a great first half, and my coach told me to just do the little things and let the game come to me," Bey said. "That's exactly what happened. I started playing defense. Started rebounding more. Just having great energy. And it helped my team out a lot."
At halftime, Bey was 1-for-4 with two points, three rebounds, and two turnovers. In the second half he went 6-for-7 from the floor and 9-for-9 at the free throw line without committing another turnover. Bey also finished with 10 rebounds for his first double-double of the season and the third of his still-young career.
Bey made the final six of those free throws in the final 24 seconds to help keep the Rams at bay.
"I've got to say this about Tyler Bey — he didn't have a great start to this game. But what shows me such progress about that kid is in maybe games past and maybe last year, his head would go down and it would just be a bad game for Tyler," CU head coach Tad Boyle said. "But he found a way mid-stream throughout the game to get himself going and brought himself out of that funk that he was in. That shows great progress by a sophomore who is growing up before our eyes.
"Going 9-for-9 at the free throw, making six of them down the stretch, and the block against JD Paige was as big-time a play as you're going to see in college basketball."
For the first time in four home games, there was a genuine buzz in the CU Events Center Saturday.
Certainly the lack of attention so far hasn't been the fault of a young and exciting club that, so far, is averaging an entertaining 89.5 points at home. But the reality is the Buffs' attendance high in the first three games of the season was only 5,720, with all of the first three attendance figures counting as the lowest at the arena since 1,280 extremely faithful fans showed up for the 2015 game against Gardner-Webb in the CBI tournament.
Saturday's attendance of 7,887 still fell short of the record-setting figures established early in Boyle's tenure at CU, and it also was the lowest home attendance for a CSU rivalry game since 2010 (7,219). Still, for an athletics department growing desperate to reverse the downward attendance trend at the Events Center, it was a step in the right direction.
"This is a fun team to watch. This is a fun team to coach. This is going to be a fun team to watch grow throughout the season," said Boyle, who took the PA microphone after the game to thank a much-improved student section. "When you see our student section today, relative to the other three home games, anybody that was here knows the difference.
"I want our students to understand they make a big difference. They make a huge difference."
CU snapped a nine-game losing streak when its opponents shoot at least 50 percent. The Rams finished with a .517 mark...With a career-best-matching 11 assists, CU point guard McKinley Wright passed Jacques Tuz and James Wright for 25th on the Buffs' career list with 211...Wright went just 9-for-24 from the floor in the season's first three games but is 15-for-23 since.