What went right: The Buffs forced 19 turnovers and committed only 11 of their own.
What went wrong: CU was outrebounded 43-31, leading to a 15-7 disadvantage in second-chance points. The Buffs also went just 9-for-17 on free throws.
Star of the game: McKinley Wright. The freshman point guard went 6-for-11 with 21 points, six assist, three steals, and no turnovers in 35 minutes.
What’s next: The Buffs will get a few days to go home before reconvening to begin preparations for Pac-12 Conference play, which begins Dec. 29 at Oregon State.
SIOUX FALLS, S.D. — The youthful exuberance has made CU a grittier bunch unafraid of rallying from behind, a trait that once again was on display Friday night, but any shortcoming within any given game usually is enough to derail the Buffs.
Against Iowa on Friday night, the Buffs couldn’t buy a rebound in the opening 10 minutes of the game. And the Hawkeyes made them pay.
Despite rallying from a 10-point first half deficit, the Buffs fell in their nonconference finale, dropping an 80-73 decision at the Sanford Pentagon. It was the fourth loss in six games for the Buffs, who will be off for a few days over the holiday before regrouping ahead of next week’s Pac-12 Conference opener at Oregon State.
“We had opportunities to get it done and we didn’t get it done,” CU coach Tad Boyle said. “We showed flashes of brilliance tonight. We did. The only thing I’m disappointed in is our lack of consistency. That’s what we have to get better at. We don’t have to be perfect. There’s going to be ebbs and flows to every game. We’ve got to weather the storms better. We didn’t weather the storm in the second half.”
The Buffs struggled through the sort of start that typically ends with a blowout loss, especially on the road. CU managed to hit just two of its first nine shots and was hammered on the glass early. Iowa built a 28-18 lead before CU came alive, with McKinley Wright providing a momentum-turning shot with a 3-pointer that just beat the shot clock buzzer.
It was the first field goal of what became a 13-1 run by the Buffs, who took their first lead of the game at 30-29 on a drive by Namon Wright with 1 minute, 29 seconds left in the first half.
Iowa led by a point at halftime despite the Buffs rebounding woes. Boyle was quick to point out that one-point deficit at the break included 11 second-chance points for the Hawkeyes.
“Toughness and rebounding. Those are the two areas where we have to be top-notch if we want to go to the tournament,” McKinley Wright said. “If that’s something we want to do, we have to be a lot more tough. And rebounding. We lost the rebounding battle by 12, and we worked on that all week in practice. That’s something we’ve been stressing all season long, but it’s something we’ve been struggling at.”
A 3-pointer by Lucas Siewert gave the Buffs their biggest lead at five points at the 15 minute, 36 second mark on the second half, but it was a short-lived advantage. CU still led by three when Iowa reeled off a 13-2 run to take control with under eight minutes remaining. The Buffs again battled to within four, but a 7-2 run by the Hawkeyes iced the game.
McKinley Wright turned in another impressive all-around game, finishing with 21 points, six assists, three steals, and no turnovers in 35 minutes. Though the matchup officially will be logged as a neutral floor result, the heavily partisan crowd for Iowa made it more like a true road game for CU, which fell to 0-3 in such contests. It perhaps is not a promising sign for a club that plays four of its first six league games away from home.
“We’re a good rebounding team against bad teams, but against good teams we don’t answer the bell,” Boyle said. “That’s disappointing. Iowa is athletic and they’re big and they’re strong, but that’s not an excuse.”
IOWA 80, COLORADO 73
Baer 1-5 0-0 2, Nunge 1-2 1-1 3, Cook 4-7 4-8 12, Moss 5-12 6-8 16, Bohannon 4-7 5-7 14, Garza 1-4 0-0 2, Kriener 1-1 0-0 2, Pemsl 3-7 4-5 10, McCaffery 1-1 1-1 3, Dailey 5-7 4-6 16, Ellingson 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 26-53 25-36 80.
Brown 2-5 0-0 5, King 5-11 0-0 10, M.Wright 6-11 6-8 21, Schwartz 1-4 0-0 2, Bey 2-7 1-4 5, Siewert 1-1 0-0 3, Walton 6-10 1-2 13, Nikolic 0-0 0-0 0, Collier 1-4 0-0 2, N.Wright 5-15 1-3 12. Totals 29-68 9-17 73.
Halftime — Iowa 32-31. 3-point goals — Iowa 3-16 (Dailey 2-3, Bohannon 1-4, Garza 0-1, Nunge 0-1, Baer 0-2, Moss 0-5), Colorado 6-23 (M.Wright 3-5, Siewert 1-1, Brown 1-3, N.Wright 1-5, Schwartz 0-2, Collier 0-3, King 0-4). Fouled out — Siewert. Rebounds — Iowa 39 (Pemsl 8), Colorado 28 (Bey 7). Assists — Iowa 12 (Garza, Moss, Bohannon 2), Colorado 10 (M.Wright 6). Total fouls — Iowa 16, Colorado 25.