Team Colorado is moving on.
The roster shakeup that saw the squad of Colorado basketball alums welcome a number of younger players to the mix proved worthwhile on Friday night, as Team Colorado’s veterans set a strong early tone before their younger teammates hit the floor to push the pace. That combination allowed Team Colorado to run away from Purple and Black for a 96-93 victory in the first round of The Basketball Tournament in Wichita, Kan.
Fourth-seeded Team Colorado will seek its third Sweet 16 berth in four years Saturday in a second-round showdown against Golden Eagles, a group of Marquette basketball alums. The game tips off at noon MT and airs live on ESPN. Golden Eagles is one of the eight No. 1 seeds in the $2 million, winner-take-all TBT.
Team Colorado lost in the second round last year, but reached the Sweet 16 in 2017 and played in the title game in 2016.
Head coach Nate Tomlinson, CU’s new director of player development, opted to go with a starting lineup of veterans, sending Richard Roby, Chris Copeland, Marcus Hall, Marcus Relphorde and Shannon Sharpe out for the opening tip. The familiar Team Colorado crew helped stake the former Buffs to a good start, with Copeland going 3-for-3 on 3-pointers in the first half, while Hall, Sharpe and Roby scored five points apiece in the opening quarter.
Some of the newcomers got into the action later in the first half and made key contributions, particularly during an 18-6 run that closed the second quarter and gave Team Colorado a 51-35 halftime lead. 2018 CU graduate Dom Collier scored four points during that run, while former teammate and 2017 graduate Xavier Johnson knocked down a 3-pointer and assisted on another 3-pointer by Roby.
Another newcomer, forward Tory Miller-Stewart, went just 1-for-7 on 3-pointers during the 101 games of his CU career, but he knocked down his first field goal attempt for Team Colorado from long range. Miller-Stewart’s 3-pointer was part of a 9-0 run by Team Colorado late in the first quarter that gave the former Buffs the lead for good and started to quiet a crowd that leaned heavily toward Purple and Black, a team of Kansas State alums.
A 3-pointer by Roby immediately after halftime pushed Team Colorado’s lead to 18 points, but Purple and Black eventually battled back to within 11 points with 6 minutes, 15 seconds remaining in the third quarter. However, Johnson and Sharpe scored four points apiece in an 8-0 Team Colorado run late in the third, and a Roby dunk at the outset of the fourth quarter pushed the former Buffs’ lead back to 20 points.
Team Colorado nearly fumbled away the win during the Elam Ending, a TBT format that sets the winning point total at eight points ahead of the point tally of the winning team with four minutes remaining. At that point, Team Colorado led 87-73, setting the winning mark at 95 points. Yet a furious comeback by Purple and Black, aided by empty possessions and missed free throws by Team Colorado, set up a next-basket-wins finish with Team Colorado winning 94-93, but a driving bucket by Sharpe saved the former Buffs from a crushing defeat.