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CU Buffs men’s basketball notes: Even as No. 5 seed, Buffs embrace underdog role

Buffs rewrite team NCAA Tournament record book

INDIANAPOLIS, INDIANA - MARCH 20: Eli Parquet #24 of the Colorado Buffaloes dunks the ball against the Georgetown Hoyas in the first round game of the 2021 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Hinkle Fieldhouse on March 20, 2021 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
INDIANAPOLIS, INDIANA – MARCH 20: Eli Parquet #24 of the Colorado Buffaloes dunks the ball against the Georgetown Hoyas in the first round game of the 2021 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament at Hinkle Fieldhouse on March 20, 2021 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
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INDIANAPOLIS — The Colorado Buffaloes got a crash course in college basketball history this week. Whether they wanted it or not.

All week, the Buffs had heard about the legendary playing career of Hall of Famer Patrick Ewing, now the coach at Georgetown. They heard how the Hoyas had reclaimed their blueblood status by storming through the Big East Conference tournament, and kept hearing the experts pick Georgetown as the requisite 12th-seed-beats-five-seed upset common at the NCAA Tournament.

Annoying as all that chatter was, these Buffs typically thrive in the underdog role. With that mindset they hit the floor Saturday at Hinkle Fieldhouse as a team on a mission, running the upstart Hoyas out of the gym while handing Ewing a humbling 96-73 defeat in his NCAA Tournament coaching debut.

For a No. 5 seed that was one missed 3-pointer, or a few uncharacteristic missed free throws, away from winning the Pac-12 Conference tournament, the Buffs felt snubbed and overlooked. They quickly, and thoroughly, took out those frustrations on Georgetown.

“It was crazy. Coming into this game, we were like the underdog. Even being a five-seed,” said freshman Jabari Walker, who paced the Buffs with 24 points off the bench. “Everybody had us losing this game. We met yesterday as a team and there’s really no pressure. Just come into the game, we’re the underdog, nobody has us winning. Anything we do from now on, nobody expected it. Just going in with that underdog mindset trying to prove everybody wrong.”

Rewrite

The NCAA Tournament records section of the CU men’s basketball media guide will require a thorough edit during the offseason.

The Buffs set program tournament records for made 3-pointers (16), 3-point percentage (16-for-25, .640), free throw percentage (12-for-14, .857), and assists (27). CU fell one point shy of matching the team tournament record of 97, set against Texas A&M in 1969.

Walker’s 24 points matched Chauncey Billups (vs. Indiana in 1997) and Cliff Meely (vs. Texas A&M in 1969) for the fifth-best tournament scoring effort in team history. Walker’s .900 shooting percentage (9-for-10) established a new standard while Walker and D’Shawn Schwartz, who drained five 3-pointers apiece, both topped Askia Booker’s now-former record of four set against Illinois in 2013.

The 13 assists posted by McKinley Wright IV obliterated CU’s previous NCAA Tournament standard of five set by Howard Frier against North Carolina in 1997.

1,000 points

Besides their status as Colorado natives, what do D’Shawn Schwartz and Chauncey Billups have in common? They both recorded their 1,000th career point in the NCAA Tournament.

Schwartz reached that milestone on Saturday, becoming the 37th CU player to reach 1,000 points and the third from the recruiting class of 2017, following Wright and former Buffs star Tyler Bey. It is the first time three players from the same recruiting class have reached 1,000 points for the Buffs and forward Evan Battey, who redshirted as a true freshman, is on pace to make it four next season.

Schwartz missed his first two 3-pointers but made his next five in a row, matching a career-high he reached two times previously. Schwartz also matched a career-high with four assists and passed Marcus Hall for seventh-place all-time at CU in made 3-pointers (153).

Notable

On Friday, CU head coach Tad Boyle was awarded the Guardians of the Game Award for Advocacy by the National Association of Basketball Coaches…Eli Parquet matched a career-high with 10 points, a mark he has now reached five times this season…CU’s 23 wins equals the 2013-14 and 2018-19 teams for the second-most in team history. The record is 24 in the 2010-11 and 2011-12 seasons…Wright became the first player since Davidson’s Jason Richards in 2008 to record at least 13 assists in an NCAA Tournament game without a turnover…Monday’s second-round matchup against Florida State will be the first game between the programs.

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