The Colorado Buffaloes men’s basketball team defeated the South Dakota State Jackrabbits Friday night in what could be the most entertaining game this season. The Buffaloes came out victorious after double-overtime by the score of 112-103.
Before the ball had tipped off at Coors Event Center, there were some major changes to the Colorado lineup. After strong practices, freshmen forwards D’Shawn Schwartz and Alexander Strating made their first starts as well as senior guard Josh Repine.
“It’s black versus gold in practice, and the gold team’s been killing us lately, so he made the right decision,” said freshman guard McKinley Wright IV after the game. “They deserved to start tonight.”
The starting lineup only played for three and a half minutes into the game, however. At that point, Colorado’s impact players, Wright IV and senior guard George King, checked into the game.
South Dakota State forward Mike Daum took the spotlight by scoring 21 points and five rebounds in the first half. Daum surpassed his season average of 20 points per game within the first half of play, tacking on another 17 by the end of the night.
While the Buffs had troubles containing Daum, they were still able to out-rebound and out-shoot the Jackrabbits from the field. Colorado led 43-36 at the half while winning the rebounding margin by three and shooting 47 percent from the field compared to South Dakota State’s 37 percent.
The start to the second half put the Buffaloes in a bit of a predicament though, as both King and freshman Lazar Nikolic guard got into foul trouble.
Colorado continued to shoot well from the field but still wasn’t able to contain Daum and freshman guard David Jenkins Jr. Both got hot from three-point range and helped get the Jackrabbits back in it.
“They shoot 41 percent from three as a team,” said head coach Tad Boyle. “So you gotta guard the three-point line. They had 13 threes tonight, we didn’t do a very good job of that.”
Both teams then started to pour it on in terms of scoring as they headed to the two-minute mark in the second half. Jenkins and Wright IV scored back and forth down the stretch until Daum made two crucial free throws to send the game into overtime.
In the first overtime period, the Jackrabbits got off to a great start thanks to both Jenkins and Daum’s production. South Dakota State had a six point lead with two minutes to go, only for Colorado to answer with Wright IV and his cohorts answering the bell on both sides of the floor.
“We just never gave up,” Wright IV said. “We bought into our defense the entire game, I think we played pretty good defense…we had to get stops down the stretch. It was definitely character building.”
Sophomore guard Deleon Brown helped complete the late surge by putting in a layup with 26 seconds left to force double-overtime.
The limelight of the second overtime period belonged to freshman forward Tyler Bey. Bey was assigned the task of guarding the then-dominant Daum for the majority of the period, and he didn’t disappoint.
“Coach told me to stay down on his pump fakes and stay on the ground,” Bey said. “I just wanted to step up and it was a good opportunity to step up for my team and play defense.”
Bey was also able to knock down some crucial shots in the period, both on the floor and from the free throw line, to help give the Buffaloes the win in what was an incredibly entertaining game.
Wright IV ended up with a career high 30 points on 10-of-19 shooting with nine rebounds and 11 assists. He becomes the third different freshman to score 30 points in a game, joining the likes of former Colorado-greats Chauncey Billups and Emmett Lewis. Bey equaled Wright IV’s rebounding tally with nine rebounds as well.
“That’s what great point guards do,” Boyle said.” They figure out when they’re open and they shoot it, and when they’re not open and make a play for somebody else…McKinley is pretty special.”
Next up, the Buffaloes will take on the Iowa Hawkeyes in Sioux Falls, South Dakota on Friday. Game time will be at 7 p.m. and will be aired on the Big Ten Network.
Contact CU Independent sports staff writer Drew Sharek at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @drew_sharek.