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Giant killers: Colorado men’s basketball routs No. 24 Texas A&M

Colorado's KJ Simpson, left, plays defense in the backcourt against Texas A&M on Friday, Nov. 18, 2022 in Myrtle Beach, S.C. (Myrtle Beach Invitational/courtesy photo)
Colorado’s KJ Simpson, left, plays defense in the backcourt against Texas A&M on Friday, Nov. 18, 2022 in Myrtle Beach, S.C. (Myrtle Beach Invitational/courtesy photo)
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CONWAY, S.C. — The Colorado men’s basketball team had not faced a pair of ranked opponents within the first five games of a season in 49 years.

The Buffaloes might want to consider doing it a little more frequently.

The Buffs continued their rollercoaster ride through the season’s first two weeks with another impressive high on Friday, absolutely crushing No. 24 Texas A&M 103-75 in the second game of the Myrtle Beach Invitational at Coastal Carolina’s HTC Center.

It was CU’s second win against a ranked foe in five days, following a victory against then-No. 11 Tennessee on Sunday. And, like the win against the Volunteers, the Buffs’ thorough all-around performance against A&M came after a short turnaround off a disappointing loss, as CU dropped its tournament opener on Thursday against UMass.

It was the first 100-point game by the Buffs since a 100-71 home win against Drake in the 2018-19 season opener. CU’s 103 points set a Myrtle Beach Invitational record.

“I feel like one thing we’re good at is we never want to lose two in a row,” CU guard KJ Simpson said. “I think that’s a big key. If we lose one game, we never want to lose two in a row. That means we’re learning from what we did wrong in the previous game and going out there and taking care of it, whoever we play against the next game.”

It was as complete a victory as CU has posted against a quality opponent in some time, and it was done shorthanded as starting forward J’Vonne Hadley did not play after sustaining a right shoulder injury against UMass. The Buffs more than made up for Hadley’s absence, with Simpson leading the way.

The sophomore guard decimated the Aggies on all fronts, going 11-for-17 with four 3-pointers while finishing with a Myrtle Beach Invitational record 30 points. It was CU’s first 30-point game since McKinley Wright IV scored 30 early in his freshman season in a double overtime win against South Dakota State on Dec. 15, 2017. It was the first 30-point game by a Buffs player in a regulation game since Derrick White scored 30 on March 19, 2017 at Central Florida in an NIT first-round loss.

Simpson also went 4-for-4 on free throws with seven rebounds, three assists and a career-high six steals.

Simpson hardly was alone, though. Javon Ruffin came off the bench to go 4-for-6 from the field and 4-for-4 at the free throw line, finishing with 14 points, five rebounds and three assists. Ethan Wright hit five 3-pointers off the bench, and starting wing Nique Clifford shook off his slow start to the season with 11 points, four rebounds and four assists.

“After the buzzer sounded (against UMass) we were all disappointed,” Ruffin said. “Not necessarily in the fact that we lost, but how we did it. We know that we didn’t put our best foot forward. Not just in shooting, but our effort wasn’t there, our defense wasn’t there. That’s how we felt leaving the game, so we knew that we had one goal today to make sure we don’t lose the same way.”

Colorado's Tristan da Silva encourages teammates out on the floor from the bench against Texas A&M on Friday, Nov. 18, 2022 in Myrtle Beach, S.C. (Myrtle Beach Invitational/courtesy photo)
Colorado’s Tristan da Silva encourages teammates out on the floor from the bench against Texas A&M on Friday. (Myrtle Beach Invitational/courtesy photo)

Texas A&M held a 14-12 lead early in the first half when the Buffs unleashed a 15-2 run and never looked back, pushing the advantage to 54-33 at halftime.

CU held the Aggies to 40% shooting and outrebounded A&M 35-28. The Buffs shook off their .294 start from long range through four games to go 16-for-32 on 3-pointers.

“I’m proud of this team,” CU head coach Tad Boyle said. “I felt at breakfast, and on the bus coming over here, these guys, they care about this team. They care about this season. They care about winning. As long as you feel that your players feel that way, it really helps as a coach even though it’s no fun to lose. To know that these guys are with you, win or lose, is a good feeling.”

Snapshot: CU Buffs vs. No. 24 Texas A&M

Turning point: Texas A&M led 14-12 early, but the Buffs reeled off a 15-2 run and were in control the rest of the way.

Buff of the game: KJ Simpson. The sophomore guard set a Myrtle Beach Invitational record with a career-high 30 points. He went 11-for-17 from the field, 4-for-4 on free throws, and also finished with seven rebounds, three assists and a career-high six steals.

What’s next: The Buffs will play Boise State in the tournament finale on Sunday (5 p.m. MT, ESPNEWS).

Colorado 103, No. 24 Texas A&M 75
COLORADO (3-2)

da Silva 2-5 4-4 9, Lovering 1-1 2-4 4, Clifford 4-8 1-3 11, Gabbidon 3-7 1-2 9, Simpson 11-17 4-4 30, Ruffin 4-6 4-4 14, O’Brien 3-5 1-1 7, Hammond 1-4 2-2 4, Wright 5-6 0-0 15. Totals 34-59 19-24 103.

TEXAS A&M (2-2)

Coleman 1-2 0-0 2, Washington 2-7 7-8 12, Dennis 4-6 0-0 9, Radford 0-5 4-4 4, Taylor 1-8 3-4 6, Gordon 2-3 0-0 6, Marble 6-9 0-3 12, Hefner 4-8 4-4 13, Robinson 2-3 0-0 4, Garcia 1-1 0-0 2, Obaseki 0-5 2-2 2, Pratt 1-3 0-0 3, Brown 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 24-60 20-25 75.

Halftime — Colorado 54-33. 3-point field goals — Colorado 16-32 (Wright 5-6, Simpson 4-8, Clifford 2-3, Ruffin 2-3, Gabbidon 2-5, da Silva 1-2, O’Brien 0-2, Hammond 0-3), Texas A&M 7-20 (Gordon 2-2, Pratt 1-2, Washington 1-2, Dennis 1-3, Hefner 1-3, Taylor 1-4, Marble 0-1, Robinson 0-1, Radford 0-2). Fouled out — Garcia. Rebounds — Colorado 35 (Simpson 7), Texas A&M 28 (Washington, Marble 5). Assists — Colorado 22 (Lovering, Clifford 4), Texas A&M 13 (Dennis, Taylor 3). Total fouls — Colorado 22, Texas A&M 24. A — 1,332 (3,600).

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