LAS VEGAS — It was less than two years ago when Colorado and Washington met at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas with a berth in the Pac-12 Conference championship game on the line.
Only one team looked as if it might be ready for another run at a conference title when they collided again Sunday night. And it certainly wasn’t the Huskies.
The Buffaloes added to the misery that has been Washington’s season so far, dominating the Huskies from the opening tip to post a 92-69 win in a contest that was played as a nonconference game. CU shot well from the floor and was able to consistently dissect the Huskies’ zone defense for easy looks, while the Buffs’ defense never allowed Washington’s struggling offense to get on track.
“I thought we played really, really well in that first half,” CU head coach Tad Boyle said. “We made great decisions against the zone. Quick, decisive decisions, which is what you have to do. The second half, I thought we struggled. Especially down the stretch there. I don’t like the way we finished the game. But overall, I thought we rebounded the ball better in the second half. The first half, we gave up seven layups and eight offensive rebounds. I thought we should have held them to 20 points in the first half. They had 30.
“But to win a game going away against a conference opponent that’s given you problems in the past, it’s a good sign. I thought we executed the game plan on offense really, really well tonight.”
CU opened the game with an 11-2 run and never trailed, building a 21-5 lead less than 8 minutes into the game. The Buffs routinely got the ball to either Dallas Walton or Jeriah Horne in the open spot of the zone around the free throw line, allowing those two forward to shoot a combined 12-for-19.
Walton was particularly dominant, going 6-for-7 from the field and a perfect 10-for-10 from the free throw line before finishing with a career-high 22 points. D’Shawn Schwartz went 3-for-5 on 3-pointers and scored 13 points, while Horne finished with 16 points.
Walton’s 6-for-7 night from the floor increased his season shooting percentage to .750 (21-for-28).
“I can’t put into words how good it feels,” Walton said. “A lot of credit goes to my teammates and coaches for putting me in positions to produce. I think it was a good game for us. We’ve just got to keep this thing going.”
With five players scoring in double figures, CU was so dominant that despite star point guard McKinley Wright finishing just 2-for-6 with five points, the Buffs were able to cruise to a 23-point win. Wright still contributed five assists and four rebounds with only one turnover in 28 minutes.
The Buffs shot .483 from the field while holding Washington to a 4-for-18 mark from 3-point range.
“I think it was after the Tennessee game, (Walton) was 1-for-1 and I remember coming into the next staff meeting in the morning saying we’ve got to get this guy more shots,” Boyle said. “He’s got to be more a focal part of the offense. And we told the team that as well. They really responded because he’s very efficient with his shots. He doesn’t take a lot of bad ones. Every time he touches it down there you feel something good is going to happen.”
What went right: Pretty much everything. The Buffs shot .483 from the field, went 26-for-28 at the free throw line, outrebounded Washington 43-28, and committed a season-low seven turnovers.
What went wrong: Very little, though a late 15-0 run by the Huskies made the final margin slightly more palatable for UW.
Star of the game: Dallas Walton. The 7-footer from Arvada West went 6-for-7 from the field and 10-for-10 at the free throw line while scoring a career-high 22 points.
What’s next: The Buffs will have an off day in Las Vegas before taking on Grand Canyon at T-Mobile Arena on Tuesday (9 p.m. MT, Pac-12 Networks).
COLORADO 92, WASHINGTON 69
Battey 0-1 6-6 6, Walton 6-7 10-10 22, Parquet 2-4 0-0 4, M.Wright 2-6 1-2 5, Schwartz 4-9 2-2 13, Horne 6-12 4-4 16, Barthelemy 3-7 2-2 10, Daniels 3-7 1-2 10, Walker 3-5 0-0 6, Clifford 0-1 0-0 0, O’Brien 0-1 0-0 0, Strating 0-0 0-0 0, Jessup 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 29-60 26-28 92.
Roberts 1-2 0-1 2, H.Wright 0-2 0-0 0, Battle 0-4 0-0 0, Green 4-14 4-4 12, Pryor 7-17 1-2 15, Bey 3-7 0-0 8, Sorn 7-8 2-3 16, Bajema 0-1 0-0 0, Tsohonis 4-4 4-6 14, Brooks 1-2 0-0 2, Stevenson 0-2 0-0 0. Totals 27-63 11-16 69.
Halftime — Colorado 52-30. 3-Point Goals — Colorado 8-20 (Daniels 3-4, Schwartz 3-5, Barthelemy 2-6, Horne 0-1, O’Brien 0-1, Parquet 0-1, M.Wright 0-2), Washington 4-18 (Tsohonis 2-2, Bey 2-3, H.Wright 0-1, Pryor 0-2, Stevenson 0-2, Battle 0-3, Green 0-5). Rebounds — Colorado 43 (Daniels 7), Washington 28 (Sorn 8). Assists — Colorado 21 (M.Wright 5), Washington 10 (Pryor 5). Total Fouls — Colorado 19, Washington 20. Technical foul — Walker.