What went right: Defense and rebounding. CU held UNC to a .323 shooting percentage and outrebounded the Bears 48-29.
What went wrong: A big lead led to some complacency, as the Buffs committed 12 turnovers during the second half. CU finished with 18 overall.
Star of the game: Senior forward Josh Scott made 5-of-7 field goals and 8-of-9 free throws, finishing with 18 points and eight rebounds.
What’s next?: The Buffs host Division II Fort Lewis College on Wednesday night at 6 p.m.
It wasn’t the most picturesque win the University of Colorado basketball team expects to pick up this season.
Still, with an overmatched and undermanned Northern Colorado club visiting the Coors Events Center on Sunday afternoon, the Buffaloes made certain to take the fight out of the Bears as quickly as possible.
CU stormed out of the gate and never looked back, building a lead that even a few second-half bloopers could not come close to erasing as the Buffs cruised to an 82-52 non-conference victory.
“It’s critical that you come out and you don’t give them any hope, you’ve got to punch them in the mouth, so to speak, and I thought we did that,” CU head coach Tad Boyle said. “The only way you can extend leads is you’ve got to score, but you’ve also got to get stops. Obviously in this building when we get stops we can hopefully get out in transition.”
CU never trailed, using an opening 11-3 run that featured 3-pointers from George King, Josh Fortune, and Dom Collier to set the visiting Bears on their collective heels.
The Buffs knocked down six 3-pointers in the first half while building a more than comfortable 46-19 lead at halftime.
“It’s pivotal, because you don’t want to give them any thought process of ‘Oh, we can play with these guys,'” said CU sophomore George King, who finished with 13 points. “You don’t want to give them that at all. We’ve got to come out on all cylinders and play Buffs basketball. The first half, we shared the ball a lot.”
Although CU’s lead was never seriously threatened by a Northern Colorado team that was playing without second-leading scorer Cameron Michael (concussion), a sloppy second half gave Boyle plenty of fodder to address before the Buffs host Division II Fort Lewis College on Wednesday.
After committing just six turnovers in the first half, CU committed 12 in the second half. It was the fifth time in six games the Buffaloes have committed at least 17 turnovers, and only once has CU reached its per-game goal of keeping the giveaways at 12 or under.
“We had six turnovers in the first half, which is a good number, and 12 in the second half. Terrible number,” Boyle said. “We’ve got to get better in that area.”
CU’s late generosity wasn’t reflected on the scoreboard, as the Buffs finished with a solid .481 shooting percentage, which included a 10-for-23 mark from 3-point range. The Buffs have gone 23-for-48 from beyond the 3-point arc over the past two games.
Once again senior forward Josh Scott led the way offensively, going 5-for-7 from the field and 8-for-9 from the free throw line before finishing with 18 points and eight rebounds. Junior Wesley Gordon displayed a scoring touch during the second half that has been largely absent through the first few weeks of the season, scoring all nine of his points after the break while grabbing a game-high 15 rebounds.
Gordon also recorded a pair of blocked shots to give him 100 in his career. He is the ninth CU player to reach that total.
“I can affect a game in more ways than just scoring,” Gordon said. “I just focus on different aspects of the game. We don’t have trouble scoring too much.”