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CU Buffs men’s basketball routs Northern Colorado in home opener

Buffs rebound from poor showing at Tennessee with superb all-around performance

  • University of Colorado Boulder's McKinley Wright IV passes around University of Northern Colorado's Roy Grigsby at the CU Events Center in Boulder on Dec. 14, 2020. (Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)

  • University of Colorado Boulder's Dallas Walton, left, and Eli Parquet, play tough defense on University of Northern Colorado's Daylen Kountz at the CU Events Center in Boulder on Dec. 14, 2020.(Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)

  • University of Colorado Boulder's Jabari Walker knocks the ball from University of Northern Colorado's Bryce Kennedy at the CU Events Center in Boulder on December 14, 2020. (Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)

  • University of Colorado Boulder's Evan Battey is doubled by University of Northern Colorado's Bodie Hume, left, and Greg Bowie II at the CU Events Center in Boulder on Dec. 14, 2020. (Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)

  • University of Colorado Boulder's Maddox Daniels shoots over University of Northern Colorado's Daylen Kountz at the CU Events Center in Boulder on Dec. 14, 2020. (Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)

  • University of Colorado Boulder's McKinley Wright IV shoots over University of Northern Colorado's Kur Jockuch at the CU Events Center in Boulder on Dec. 14, 2020. (Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)

  • University of Colorado Boulder's D'Shawn Schwartz shoots over University of Northern Colorado's Marque English II at the CU Events Center in Boulder on Dec. 14, 2020. (Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)

  • University of Colorado Boulder's Dallas Walton reaches for a rebound in front of University of Northern Colorado's Kur Jockuch at the CU Events Center in Boulder on Dec. 14, 2020. (Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)

  • University of Colorado Boulder's Nique Clifford shoots in the University of Northern Colorado game at the CU Events Center in Boulder on Dec. 14, 2020. (Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)

  • University of Northern Colorado's Kur Jockuch, left, battles Colorado's Dallas Walton and McKinley Wright IV, for a loose ballat the CU Events Center in Boulder on Dec. 14, 2020. (Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)

  • University of Colorado Boulder's head coach Tad Boyle in the University of Northern Colorado game at the CU Events Center in Boulder on Dec. 14, 2020. (Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)

  • University of Colorado Boulder's Maddox Daniels shoots on University of Northern Colorado's Kur Jockuchat the CU Events Center in Boulder on Dec. 14, 2020. (Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)

  • University of Colorado Boulder's Evan Battey moves on University of Northern Colorado's Rodrick McCobbat the CU Events Center in Boulder on Dec. 14, 2020. (Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)

  • University of Colorado Boulder's Evan Battey shoots over University of Northern Colorado's Bodie Hume at the CU Events Center in Boulder on Dec. 14, 2020. (Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)

  • University of Colorado Boulder's Maddox Daniels shoots over University of Northern Colorado's Marque English II at the CU Events Center in Boulder on Dec. 14, 2020. (Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)

  • University of Colorado Boulder's new assistant, Rick Ray at the CU Events Center in Boulder on Dec. 14, 2020. (Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)

  • After posting just five blocked shots last season, CU Buffs 7-footer Dallas Walton recorded three during a win against Northern Colorado. (Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)

  • University of Colorado Boulder's McKinley Wright IV shoots over University of Northern Colorado's Marque English IIat the CU Events Center in Boulder on Dec. 14, 2020. (Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)

  • University of Colorado Boulder's head coach, Tad Boyle, and new assistant, Rick Rayat the CU Events Center in Boulder on Dec. 14, 2020. (Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)

  • University of Colorado Boulder's Keeshawn Barthelemy drives on University of Northern Colorado's Marque English II at the CU Events Center in Boulder on Dec. 14, 2020. (Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)

  • Head coach Tad Boyle wants redshirt freshman guard Keeshawn Barthelemy to push the pace when he is on the floor. (Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)

  • University of Colorado Boulder's head coach, Tad Boyle, and new assistant, Rick Ray at the CU Events Center in Boulder on Dec. 14, 2020. (Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)

  • University of Colorado Boulder's Evan Battey moves on University of Northern Colorado's Rodrick McCobb at the CU Events Center in Boulder on Dec. 14, 2020. (Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)

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It took until the season’s fourth game, but the Colorado Buffaloes finally were at full strength Monday night.

And, coming off an underwhelming performance against a nationally-ranked foe, the full-strength Buffs may have provided a glimpse of their intriguing potential. CU took advantage of its size advantage for easy looks on offense while turning in a harassing effort on defense, leading the way to a lopsided 81-45 victory against Northern Colorado in the Buffs’ delayed home opener at the CU Events Center.

CU scored nearly as many points in the first half against the overmatched Bears (45) as it did the entire game last week during a 56-47 loss at Tennessee.

“I thought we were really efficient tonight,” CU head coach Tad Boyle said. “We shot over 50 percent. I don’t think we’ve done that all year. And defensively, I thought we did a good job with our ball-screen coverages. Because Northern Colorado is a good ball-screen team, a good driving team. They’re a good 3-point shooting team. I thought we did a really good job defensively against them.”

From the opening tip, the Buffs made a concerted effort to get starting forwards Dallas Walton and Evan Battey involved against the smaller Bears. Walton, who was held to one shot attempt and two points at Tennessee, went 4-for-6 from the field and 3-for-3 on free throws while recording 12 points and four rebounds. Battey, who struggled to a 6-for-19 mark through the season’s first three games, finished 5-for-7 with 14 points and eight rebounds.

Northern Colorado, whose season was delayed due to preseason coronavirus issues, held a brief 3-2 lead early, but CU scored the next seven points and never trailed again. A 16-0 run by CU in the latter stages of the first half led to a 45-21 Buffs lead at halftime.

CU point guard McKinley Wright IV turned in another standout all-around performance, going 8-for-10 while posting 19 points, seven assists, and five rebounds. Overall, the Buffs shot .533 while holding UNC to a .288 mark.

“One thing coach Boyle has been telling our team is we’ve got weapons at all five positions, and we knew we had an advantage down low,” said Walton, who posted the fifth double-figure scoring game of his career and his first since Feb. 15, 2018. “In order to open up the floor for our shooters, we need to establish ourselves down low and establish an inside presence. It was nice getting those looks early and see a collective approach to our game plan of playing inside-out.”

After having their first two home games postponed, the Buffs will now have to brace for a quick turnaround as they host Omaha on Wednesday afternoon. For the first time this season, the Buffs will attack that turnaround with a full complement of players after coronavirus issues kept D’Shawn Schwartz, Eli Parquet, Keeshawn Barthelemy, Luke O’Brien, and Tristan da Silva out of at least one of the first three games.

“It’s the first time we’ve had all hands on deck, and you saw the result,” Boyle said. “It was great to have Eli and Luke back. It’s great to have D’Shawn back. When we’ve got all hands on deck, and we play unselfishly and play for each other and sacrifice for each other, this team has a chance to be pretty special.”

Fast break

What went right: The Buffs shot the ball well (.533 overall, 6-for-13 on 3-pointers) and held UNC to a .288 mark from the field.

What went wrong: Very little. CU outrebounded the Bears 40-28 and forced 21 turnovers out of UNC.

Star of the game: CU enjoyed several strong performances, but point guard McKinley Wright IV finished 8-for-10 with 19 points, seven assists, and five rebounds.

What’s next: The Buffs will have a quick turnaround with a Wednesday afternoon home date against Omaha (3 p.m., Pac-12 Networks).

Colorado 81, N. Colorado 45

N. COLORADO (2-0)

Jockuch 2-5 2-4 6, Hume 4-12 0-0 11, Johnson 2-5 2-2 7, Kountz 2-9 1-2 5, Masten 2-8 2-2 6, McCobb 1-2 0-0 2, Bowie 0-5 0-0 0, English 1-2 0-0 3, Smoots 1-2 0-0 3, Grigsby 0-1 0-0 0, Kennedy 0-0 0-0 0, Little 0-0 0-0 0, Melvin 0-0 2-2 2, Hughes 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 15-52 9-12 45.

COLORADO (3-1)

Battey 5-7 4-6 14, Walton 4-6 3-3 12, Parquet 3-5 1-1 7, Wright 8-10 0-0 19, Schwartz 1-4 0-0 3, Horne 3-5 2-2 9, Daniels 3-6 0-0 6, Barthelemy 3-7 0-0 6, Walker 1-5 1-2 3, Clifford 0-3 0-1 0, da Silva 0-0 0-0 0, O’Brien 1-2 0-0 2, Strating 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 32-60 11-15 81.

Halftime — Colorado 45-21. 3-point goals — N. Colorado 6-18 (Hume 3-7, Johnson 1-1, Smoots 1-1, English 1-2, Grigsby 0-1, Masten 0-1, Bowie 0-2, Kountz 0-3), Colorado 6-13 (Wright 3-4, Horne 1-1, Schwartz 1-1, Walton 1-2, Clifford 0-1, O’Brien 0-1, Walker 0-1, Barthelemy 0-2). Rebounds — N. Colorado 28 (Jockuch 8), Colorado 40 (Battey 8). Assists — N. Colorado 6 (Hume, Kountz, Masten, McCobb, Bowie, Kennedy 1), Colorado 16 (Wright 7). Total fouls — N. Colorado 18, Colorado 13.