The Colorado Buffaloes traveled to Fort Collins to take on in-state rival Colorado State Rams on Saturday. The Buffs suffered their first loss of the season, falling to the Rams 72-63.
Coming into the game, Colorado encountered a major bump in the road. Senior forward Tory Miller-Stewart was ruled out indefinitely after an undisclosed injury during practice.
This meant that freshman forward Dallas Walton took the reins at the center position in what would be his first career start.
The first portion to the first half was tight knit between the Buffs and the Rams, until Colorado State went on an 8-0 run around the eight-minute mark. The Buffaloes were only down 38-35 at halftime, but were simply manhandled on the glass.
“They came out with way more energy than us,” said freshman guard McKinley Wright IV. “We didn’t match their energy until the seven-minute mark in the second half … When the ball was tipped in the air, they wanted it more than us.”
The start to the second half for Colorado wasn’t encouraging.
The Rams continued to impose their will on the Buffs and Colorado was physically outmatched.
Colorado State forwards Deion James and Nico Carvacho were the primary x-factors for beating the Buffs on the glass. They combined for 19 rebounds throughout the game.
“[CSU] manhandled us from start to finish,” said head coach Tad Boyle. “They beat us at our own game. The two keys to this game today were getting outrebounded on the backboard and CSU, who’s not a shot-blocking team, [having] nine blocked shots. That tells me we weren’t making very good decisions when we got the ball in the lane.”
With roughly seven minutes left in the game, the Rams would stretch their lead to 17, their largest of the game. CSU’s scoring came in large part thanks to junior guards Prentiss Nixon and J.D. Paige, who both notched 16 points.
But straight after the Rams attained their large cushion, Wright IV was determined to take over the game. He went on an 11-0 run to get the Buffaloes back within striking distance with about five minutes to play.
“Once I get energy, and once I get going, I know that my teammates will as well,” Wright IV said.
Wright IV led the team with 19 points while senior guard Dom Collier was next with 10.
Colorado was then only down by five after senior guard George King hit a three-pointer with 2:45 left to go. The Buffs couldn’t quite complete the comeback as the Rams were able to hit enough shots from the charity stripe to hand Colorado their first loss of the season.
King went just 3-of-13 from the floor in the game and contributed nine points in Saturday’s loss.
The way Colorado fought back against their in-state rivals is an encouraging sign for things to come for this young squad.
“This team is resilient,” Walton said. “We’ve got a bunch of young guys who are hungry and I think that helps us no matter how far down we go during the game.”
Boyle mentioned at that Miller-Stewart’s absence wouldn’t have mattered whether they had won or lost, but still felt that this game could’ve been theirs.
“The next step is toughness and execution,” Coach Boyle mentioned. “We had neither one of those things today relative to CSU. You can’t beat teams on the road unless you have toughness, and that shows up in the rebounding category, and you have execution which shows up in the shot selection and turnovers.”
The Buffaloes will take on the New Mexico Lobos at the Coors Events Center next Wednesday, Dec. 6. Tipoff is at 7 p.m. and will be aired on Pac-12 Network.
Contact CU Independent sports staff writer Drew Sharek at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @drew_sharek.