Matthew Jonas / Staff Photographer
Matthew Jonas / Staff Photographer
What went right: The Buffs dominated the glass, posting a 42-21 rebounding advantage, and also recorded 13 assists against six turnovers in the second half.
What went wrong: CU has been suspect defensively from 3-point range since the season-opener, and Air Force went 8-for-15 from beyond the arc in the first half.
Star of the game: George King. The senior guard posted his eighth career double-double with 25 points and a carer-best 15 rebounds while also going 5-for-6 on 3-pointers.
What’s next: The Buffs will have another slow week before visiting rival Colorado State on Saturday at 11 a.m.
Despite the eye-popping final numbers that netted a few career milestones along the way, George King wasn’t exactly in a bragging mood.
Asked if his monster performance during Colorado’s 81-69 victory Sunday against Air Force counted as the best of his CU Buffaloes career, King offered nothing more than a succinct and understated, “Probably so.”
Head coach Tad Boyle was a little more forthcoming after King’s 25-point, 15-rebound effort at the Coors Events Center helped his club overcome a sluggish first half while improving to 6-0 on the young season.
“He was a beast tonight,” Boyle said. “He was an absolute beast on the boards. He let the game come to him. The best thing about his 25 points was that it came on 13 shots. Great efficiency.
“(Rebounding) is something we’ve talked about. We saw it in flashes last year and we’ve seen it in flashes this year. Not that he’s going to have (15) every night out, but he should be a double-double guy. No question in my mind. George King should have 10-plus rebounds every single night we play as long as he stays out of foul trouble and gets the minutes, which he is.”
King’s double-double was his first of the season and the eighth of his career, and he posted 25 points for the second consecutive game — a total eclipsed only by a career-best 27 points he scored at Auburn early in the 2015-16 season.
King established a new career-high in rebounds while going 9-for-13 from the floor with a 5-for-6 mark on 3-pointers, which also matched a career-high for made 3-pointers in a single game. King moved into the top 10 of CU’s career-list for made 3-pointers and finished the day with 129, pulling into a tie with Donnie Boyce and Levi Knutson for eighth-place. Next up is former teammate Xavier Johnson at 130.
“Just being Colorado basketball, our emphasis is to rebound at a high level,” King said. “Coach put that emphasis on us even more to really rebound because we hadn’t been doing that the last couple games at our capabilities. I’m just happy we were able to come out and do something.”
King’s stellar performance helped the Buffs overcome some first-half sluggishness following a week-long layoff. Air Force led 34-33 at halftime thanks to an 8-for-15 mark on 3-pointers and nine turnovers by CU, which the Falcons turned into nine points.
In the second half the Buffs did a better job of protecting the 3-point arc, forcing the Falcons into a 3-for-11 mark after the break. And after recording just four assists against those nine turnovers in the first half, the Buffs reversed that mark with 13 assists and six turnovers after halftime. The Buffs also went 7-for-15 on 3-pointers during the second half while finishing with a 42-21 rebounding advantage.
“Did we have a great week of practice? The answer is probably no. That’s probably on me,” Boyle said. “I need to do a better job with these guys. A young team, staying on them, not letting them get fat and happy. Thanksgiving week, you want to give them some time. It is two games in two weeks. It’s a long season. But just mentally we have to keep sharper.”
COLORADO 81, AIR FORCE 69
AIR FORCE (3-2)
Manning 6-14 0-0 17, Scottie 1-3 0-0 2, Toohey 6-8 0-0 15, Louder 2-5 2-3 7, Lyons 4-9 0-0 9, Swan 2-5 2-2 6, Norman 2-3 0-0 5, Tomes 1-6 0-0 2, Van 1-4 2-2 4, Van Soelen 0-0 2-2 2, Siples 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 25-58 8-9 69.
Miller-Stewart 1-1 0-1 2, M.Wright 5-9 8-8 19, Collier 3-6 1-1 8, King 9-13 2-2 25, N.Wright 2-8 2-2 7, Walton 0-0 0-0 0, Nikolic 1-3 2-2 4, D.Brown 1-8 2-2 5, Bey 1-2 2-2 4, Schwartz 3-4 0-0 7. Totals 26-54 19-20 81.
Halftime — Air Force 34-33. 3-point goals — Air Force 11-26 (Manning 5-11, Toohey 3-3, Louder 1-1, Lyons 1-1, Norman 1-2, Van 0-1, Siples 0-1, Swan 0-2, Tomes 0-4), Colorado 10-26 (King 5-6, M.Wright 1-1, Schwartz 1-2, Collier 1-4, N.Wright 1-5, D.Brown 1-6, Nikolic 0-2). Fouled out — Louder. Rebounds — Air Force 21 (Manning 5), Colorado 40 (King 15). Assists — Air Force 16 (Tomes 5), Colorado 17 (D.Brown, N.Wright 4). Total fouls — Air Force 20, Colorado 16. A — 7,427 (11,064).