LINCOLN, Neb. — A visit to an old conference rival revealed a harsh truth about the Colorado men’s basketball team.
The Buffaloes still have a long way to go.
Visiting Nebraska for the first time in more than 10 years for a charity exhibition contest, the Buffs suffered through a frigid shooting performance while applying porous, often nonexistent defense at the other end of the floor. That untenable combination led to a thorough 82-67 Nebraska victory Sunday at Pinnacle Bank Arena.
The Buffs complete their two-game exhibition slate looking to regain their outside shooting touch and defensive intensity ahead of the Nov. 9 regular season opener at home against Montana State. Rather than lament the lopsided result, CU head coach Tad Boyle afterward expressed a silver lining outlook for a club with a revamped rotation still attempting to discover its identity.
“This is exactly what our team needed right now — to get smacked in the face like we did and hopefully learn from it and do something about it moving forward,” Boyle said. “That’s why we played this exhibition, to learn about ourselves. It was a good test for us. It was a good test for them just to see where we’re at. We learned that we’ve got a long ways to go, both defensively and offensively, in order to play big boy basketball.
“I was looking forward to this opportunity and we’re not going to hit a panic button by any means. We’ve just got to figure out how we have to get better as we move forward.”
The outcome was never in doubt.
Boyle sent out the same starting five — Keeshawn Barthelemy, Elijah Parquet, Jabari Walker, Tristan da Silva, and Evan Battey — that was utilized during last week’s exhibition win against Colorado Mines. The quintet struggled from the outset, as CU started 1-for-11 overall and missed its first nine 3-point attempts.
Defensively, the Buffs weren’t any better, with wide-open Nebraska shooters taking advantage of the free space to make five of their first seven 3-point attempts. Four consecutive 3-pointers from the Cornhuskers midway through the first half gave Nebraska a 30-9 lead, and the hosts pushed the advantage to 27 points about eight minutes in to the second half.
After limiting a good-shooting Mines team to a 6-for-29 mark on 3-pointers last week, Nebraska finished 12-for-27. CU continued to struggle from long range, going 3-for-19 from the arc after going 2-for-17 against Mines.
There were a few bright spots, such as CU’s 23 offensive rebounds and the play of sophomores Nique Clifford (5-for-10, 12 points, eight rebounds) and Luke O’Brien (3-for-4, 11 points, four rebounds). Overall, though, Boyle and his staff will have plenty of teaching points to drive home in the nine days remaining before the 2021-22 season officially tips off.
“I think shot selection has to be a part of that, because we have good shooters and we’ve been working all summer on threes,” CU point guard Keeshawn Barthelemy said. “When the threes don’t go down, we’ve got to get stops. And we didn’t do that.”
Nebraska 82, Colorado 67
Barthelemy 3-12 6-7 12, Parquet 0-3 0-0 0, J. Walker 3-8 2-2 8, da Silva 4-7 2-2 10, Battey 0-10 2-2 2, Clifford 5-10 1-1 12, O’Brien 3-4 4-5 11, Simpson 4-13 0-1 9, Lovering 1-1 1-2 3, Hammond 0-3 0-0 0. Totals 23-71 18-22 67.
Verge 5-11 0-0 10, T. McGowens 2-5 3-3 7, B. McGowens 5-13 3-5 15, D. Walker 4-6 4-6 12, Mayen 3-7 0-0 8, Tominaga 3-5 0-0 8, Wilcher 4-6 0-0 11, McPherson 1-1 0-0 2, Edwards 1-4 0-0 3, Breidenbach 2-3 0-0 6, Kojenets 0-0 0-0 0, Andre 0-0 0-0 0, Hoiberg 0-0 0-0 0.
Halftime — Nebraska 44, Colorado 28. 3-point field goals — Colorado 3-19 (Simpson 1-6, Clifford 1-3, O’Brien 1-1, Barthelemy 0-3, Walker 0-3, Battey 0-1, Parquet 0-1, Hammond 0-1). Nebraska 12-27 (Verge 0-1, B. McGowens 2-5, Mayen 2-4, Walker 0-1, Wilcher 3-5, Edwards 1-4, Tominaga 2-4, Breidenbach 2-3). Rebounds — Colorado 47 (Clifford 8, Battey 8); Nebraska 37 (D. Walker 6). Assists — Colorado 10 (Simpson 3); Nebraska 17 (Verge 6).