It was fitting this historic win occurred against Northern Colorado.
The Colorado men’s basketball team kept its momentum intact by pulling away from the Bears for an 88-77 victory on Sunday afternoon at the CU Events Center.
It was the third win in a row for the Buffs and their 11th in a row in the intrastate rivalry against UNC. More significantly, it was win No. 261 at CU for head coach Tad Boyle, moving him into a tie with Sox Walseth for the program’s all-time record. Boyle is a Greeley native who spent four seasons as UNC’s head coach before moving to CU.
“It’s special to be part of,” CU point guard KJ Simpson said. “He’s a great coach. He’s always hard on us, but he just wants the best for us. He really cares about us and we care about him the same way. It’s real special to be underneath a coach like that and have him guide us and teach us how to play the right way.”
CU led 46-39 at halftime and held a five-point lead midway through the second half before scoring eight consecutive points in what turned into an 11-1 run. UNC shot 50% during the first half but the Buffs held the Bears to a .433 mark (13-for-30) after halftime.
A trio of native Colorado players for UNC — Dalton Knecht, Matt Johnson II and former Buff Daylen Kountz — helped keep the Bears in it, combining to score 56 of UNC’s 77 points. Knecht hit four 3-pointers and posted 24 points, but Kountz was held to a 6-for-16 mark.
The Buffs’ 38-28 rebounding advantage helped produce a 14-5 edge in second-chance points.
“It was a good win for us,” Boyle said. “I knew coming in UNC had some really dynamic offensive players. I think anybody that was at the game or listened to it or watched it knows why I was a little nervous coming into (Sunday’s) game. Obviously Daylen is a special kid who started his career here. Three Colorado kids came in here and really tried to give it to us. I knew they’d be tough to guard, and they were.
“It was a good win against a team that’s going to win a lot of games in the Big Sky this year.”
Three days after posting career-highs with 25 points and nine rebounds against North Alabama, junior forward Tristan da Silva enjoyed another big game, finishing with 26 points and eight rebounds. Four players scored in double figures for the Buffs, with Simpson going 7-for-10 with 18 points and four assists.
CU topped the 50% mark from the field for the third consecutive game, finishing with a .565 mark. The Buffs also continued to make strides in the turnover department, which was a huge shortcoming for the club through the first week of December. CU finished with just 11 turnovers, its fourth-lowest mark of the season. CU’s 88 points was its third-highest scoring total of the season.
“You have to keep scoring against UNC because it’s hard to stop those guys. It really is,” Boyle said. “They’re a talented offensive team. As talented an offensive team as we’ve played all year long.”
Snapshot: UNC Bears at CU Buffs
Turning point: CU scored eight straight points to begin an 11-1 run midway through the second half that blew the game open.
Buff of the game: Tristan da Silva. The junior forward recorded a career-high for the second consecutive game, going 10-for-15 before finishing with 26 points and eight rebounds.
What’s next?: Tad Boyle will try to take sole possession of the program’s all-time wins record when the Buffs complete a four-game homestand against Southern Utah on Wednesday (5 p.m., Pac-12 Mountain).
Colorado 88, Northern Colorado 77
Abercrombie 2-6 0-0 6, Hughes 2-4 0-0 4, Kountz 6-16 4-7 17, Johnson II 6-13 2-2 15, Knecht 9-18 2-3 24, Wisne 4-4 0-0 8, Shaw 1-3 0-0 3, Creech 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 30-64 8-12 77.
da Silva 10-15 4-5 26, Lovering 0-2 0-2 0, Simpson 7-10 2-2 18, Hadley 4-11 1-2 9, Clifford 4-8 0-0 8, Gabbidon 2-4 0-0 4, Wright 0-0 0-0 0, Hammond III 4-7 1-2 11, Ruffin 4-5 2-2 12. Totals 35-62 10-15 88.
Halftime — Colorado 46-39. 3-point field goals — UNC 9-19 (Abercrombie 2-5, Kountz 1-2, Johnson II 1-4, Knecht 4-7, Shaw 1-1); Colorado 8-15 (da Silva 2-5, Simpson 2-2, Clifford 0-2, Gabbidon 0-1, Hammond III 2-2, Ruffin 2-3). Rebounds — UNC 28 (Johnson II 5); Colorado 38 (Hadley 9). Assists — UNC 10 (Kountz 4); Colorado 16 (Simpson 4). Total fouls — UNC 15, Colorado 15. A — 6,015.