LAWRENCE, Kan. — Head coach Tad Boyle wasn’t completely displeased with a defensive effort that allowed Kansas to shot better than 52 percent. And he wasn’t even overly frustrated with an offensive showing that once again featured far too many turnovers for the Buffaloes think about an upset.
In the end, basketball is about making shots. And CU couldn’t buy one in the program’s biggest game in years.
The 20th-ranked Buffs went frigid early at KU’s historic Allen Fieldhouse and never truly warmed up, as the second-ranked Jayhawks handed CU its first loss of the season in a 72-58 decision on Saturday that wasn’t nearly as close as the final score indicated.
Throughout the week, Boyle preached taking care of the ball and taking good shots as the keys to any CU upset bid. Turnovers remained an issue, with CU committing four in the first three and a half minutes before finishing with 17. Yet Boyle had few complaints about the shot selection in a performance that ended with a .300 mark from the field with a 7-for-34 showing on 3-pointers.
It was the lowest overall shooting percentage recorded by the Buffs since they posted a .259 mark at home against San Diego two years ago.
“We couldn’t make shots tonight,” Boyle said. “I thought we had some really, really good looks. It’s not like our team to take 34 of 60 shots from three, but sometimes KU makes you do things you don’t want to do. They have such good rim protection and they’re very sound defensively, and we all know that. I thought we had a lot of good looks that didn’t go in tonight. You’ve got to make those shots. We knew that coming in, but we really had trouble scoring over their length inside.”
KU made a concerted effort to keep the ball out of the paint, routinely double-teaming Tyler Bey and the rest of CU’s post players on the few occasions the Buffs managed to get the ball down low.
That left open space outside, but CU couldn’t take advantage of it. D’Shawn Schwartz entered the game with a 14-for-27 mark on 3-pointers but went 0-for-7. Lucas Siewert knocked down his first two 3-point attempts to give the Buffs a brief early spark, but he missed his next six. Bench shooters Maddox Daniels and Shane Gatling combined to go 2-for-8 on 3-pointers.
CU posted a .269 shooting percentage in the first half and needed a late flurry with the game well out of reach just to finish at 30 percent. The Buffs didn’t record a two-point field goal until 6 minutes, 25 seconds remained in the first half.
“We got a lot of open looks that just didn’t fall for us tonight,” said CU point guard McKinley Wright, who at least enjoyed a personal highlight by becoming the 35th CU player to score 1,000 points in his career. “I wouldn’t take back our game plan or what we did. I don’t think we did nothing necessarily wrong. We got the looks we wanted. We just couldn’t get them to fall tonight.”
Kansas led 34-22 at halftime and opened up an 18-point lead early in the second half. CU kept battling and eventually cut the deficit to 12 on a pair of Wright free throws with 7:33 remaining, but the Jayhawks answered with a 12-1 run that sealed CU’s fate.
Evan Battey led the Buffs with 14 points, but KU’s defensive approach essentially took Bey, CU’s leading scorer, out of the attack. The junior forward took only three shot attempts, and his lone attempt in the first half was on a 3-pointer. He finished with a season-low five points before exiting the game late with an apparent right knee injury, but Boyle said afterward early indications are that it’s not believed to be serious.
“Credit to our guys for not giving up and fighting,” Boyle said. “I think that’s what we can take away from tonight.”
No. 2 KANSAS 72, No. 20 COLORADO 58
Battey 5-8 4-7 14, Parquet 2-4 2-2 7, Wright 2-7 2-3 8, Schwartz 2-12 0-0 4, Bey 1-3 3-5 5, Siewert 2-9 0-0 6, Walton 1-3 0-0 2, Kountz 1-5 0-0 2, Gatling 1-5 4-4 7, Daniels 1-4 0-0 3. Totals 18-60 15-21 58.
McCormack 3-7 0-0 6, Azubuike 6-7 0-4 12, Dotson 4-7 10-11 18, Agbaji 8-14 0-0 20, Garrett 2-7 0-0 4, De Sousa 0-1 2-4 2, Braun 0-0 0-0 0, Teahan 0-0 0-0 0, Moss 3-5 0-0 8, Enaruna 1-3 0-0 2. Totals 27-51 12-19 72.
Halftime — Kansas 34-22. 3-point goals — Colorado 7-34 (Wright 2-4, Siewert 2-8, Parquet 1-3, Daniels 1-4, Gatling 1-4, Battey 0-1, Bey 0-1, Walton 0-2, Schwartz 0-7), Kansas 6-13 (Agbaji 4-6, Moss 2-4, Enaruna 0-1, Dotson 0-2). Fouled out — None. Rebounds — Colorado 36 (Bey 9), Kansas 39 (Agbaji 12). Assists — Colorado 7 (Wright 2), Kansas 14 (Dotson, Garrett 6). Total fouls — Colorado 16, Kansas 19. Technicals — Schwartz. A —16,300 (16,300).