ALBUQUERQUE — It was a team win, in every sense of the phrase.
Since the outset of preseason practices, Colorado men’s basketball coach Tad Boyle has offered the idea that his team’s depth would be one of its greatest strengths.
So far, that belief is proving accurate. And that depth was what made the difference Tuesday night, as the Buffaloes rallied in the second half to post a 78-75 against New Mexico at The Pit.
For the sixth consecutive game, four players scored in double figures for the Buffs, with Tyler Bey’s second consecutive double-double (16 points, 12 rebounds) leading the way. CU received meaningful contributions from across its rotation, with Namon Wright and Deleon Brown coming off the bench to score eight points apiece. Brown also hit a buzzer-beating 3-pointer from about 35 feet at the end of the first half to keep CU’s deficit in single digits at the break.
“We got contributions from across the board,” Boyle said. “Different guys played well in different areas. I thought Deleon Brown’s defense in the second half was terrific.”
Point guard McKinley Wright turned in another solid all-around game, finishing with 12 points, eight rebounds, and three assists. But the man who plays the most minutes for the Buffs admitted he needed to catch his breath before the stretch run hit and the Buffs attempted to complete their comeback from a 17-point first-half deficit.
While McKinley Wright got a quick breather on the bench, freshman Daylen Kountz entered the fray and connected on his only field goal of the game.
“We’re so deep on this team. I remember at seven minutes (left) I was gassed,” McKinley Wright said. “I couldn’t breathe. And the freshman, Daylen, came in and made a couple big plays. Namon made big plays. Alex (Starting) was huge for us. Del was tremendous off the bench. We’re super deep and we showed tonight we can play a lot of guys who can play at this level.”
CU’s bench outscored the Lobos’ reserves 30-25.
After abruptly leaving his postgame press conference after watching his team squander a 17-point lead, New Mexico head coach Paul Weir vented some frustrations by hitting a wall in the bowels of The Pit.
Strating chips in
With forward Evan Battey slowed slightly by a cold — Battey still finished with 10 points and a season-best nine rebounds — Boyle turned to Alex Starting earlier, and more frequently, than normal. Strating still only played nine minutes, but they arguably were the most meaningful minutes of his career.
Strating made his only field goal attempt and also recorded one assist.
“Evan wasn’t feeling well and was a little under the weather,” Boyle said. “Alex, I’ve got a lot of confidence in that kid. We thought we were going to need our four bigs tonight.”
The Buffs went just 5-for-19 on 3-pointers and are 21-for-75 (.280) over the past four games…New Mexico’s Corey Manigault returned to the rotation after serving what Weir described as an indefinite suspension for all of one game following his role in a pre-game brawl with New Mexico State last week. Manigault finished with eight points and five rebounds.