SAN DIEGO — If the Colorado men’s basketball team expects to make a run at the NCAA Tournament, at some point the Buffaloes will have to cure their road woes.
After going 1-10 in true road games a year ago, the Buffs set a team goal for the 2018-19 season of producing at least seven road wins. An opportunity to get the first one evaporated down the stretch Tuesday, as the University of San Diego held off CU for a 70-64 victory.
“We play well on the road. We just have to figure out a way to close these games,” Wright said. “We were up eight in the second half and turned the ball over, gave them a second-chance on an offensive rebound and they got an and-one. That hurt us. They had home court advantage and the fans on their side, but they really got a sixth man with us not rebounding the ball down the stretch.”
The Buffs lost their final five true road games a year ago but will have a chance to end that slide Saturday afternoon at Air Force. CU only has one other road game currently on the docket before playing five of its first seven Pac-12 games on the road — a Dec. 11 date at New Mexico — but could have another with a potential matchup against host Hawaii at the Diamond Head Classic.
McKinley Wright gave Buffs fans a late scare, remaining prone on the side of the court after crashing hard while chasing a loose ball into the first row of seats. Afterward Wright said he wasn’t injured and would be ready for Air Force.
Free throw turnaround
CU Head coach Tad Boyle practically predicted it.
After his team shot 60 free throws against 33 for the opposition while opening the season with two wins at home, Boyle warned his club that ratio was bound to reverse itself on the road. That’s what happened Tuesday, as San Diego went 18-for-21 at the free throw line while the Buffs went 9-for-15.
Tyler Bey and D’Shawn Schwartz both struggled with early foul trouble and eventually fouled out. Schwartz went scoreless after posting a career-best 15 points last weekend against Omaha, though he did record a career-high three assists.
“You know that’s coming,” Boyle said. “That’s not a surprise. But when you get to the line, you’ve got to knock them down because you don’t have as many opportunities on the road as you do at home.”
Boyle said he reached out to fired football coach Mike MacIntyre after he was dismissed on Sunday in order to offer some sympathy. Boyle said he left a message, but had not yet spoken with MacIntyre prior to the Buffs’ trip to San Diego
“I’ve tried to reach out to coach after tough losses,” Boyle said. “I’ve got a lot of respect for him, not only as a coach but as a father and a husband. We’re not in the same building so we don’t spend a lot of time together, but I consider him a friend and a guy that I’ve got great respect for.”
This is the third regime change with the football program to occur during Boyle’s tenure as the men’s basketball. Dan Hawkins still was the football coach at the beginning of Boyle’s first season in 2010-11.
“These situations are never easy for coaches,” Boyle said. “They’re not easy for administrators. They’re not easy for fans. They’re not easy for players. I feel for him and his family. I really feel for the assistant coaches and their families. That sometimes gets lost in these kinds of changes. I also know as college coaches — and this is where I make a distinction between college coaches and high school coaches — we know what we signed up for. That doesn’t make it any easier or rationalize decisions that are made. We just understand it’s part of the business. I feel bad for (MacIntyre) because I know hard he worked, how much time and effort he put into building this program.
“I know he has taken some heat for some of the comments he’s made, but the fact is the program is in good shape.”
The San Diego football team was honored during a first-half timeout for its third consecutive conference championship. The Toreros boast Fairview alum Connor Spencer as one of their starting defensive linemen…Wright moved past Xavier Talton and Emmett Lewis on CU’s career assists list, increasing his career total to 192 for 28th-place. Next on that list is Antoine McGee with 200…Bey recorded a career-high five blocked shots.