The No. 20 University of Colorado men’s basketball team collected a gritty win against the Loyola Marymount Lions, 76-64, at the CU Events Center Wednesday night. The Buffs struggled in the first half but continued to prove that they are a second-half team, outscoring the Lions by 16 points.
CU battled for this win and from the beginning of the game turnovers were the headline for both teams. Colorado had 19 turnovers on the night while the Lions had 24.
Despite the rough start, head coach Tad Boyle noted that his team continues to grind out wins.
“This team figures out a way to win,” Boyle said. “It starts with McKinley (Wright IV) but doesn’t end with him. We need everyone. I thought Evan (Battey) was really good. We have to keep him out of foul trouble. Part of that is on him not making silly fouls. I love this team … In terms of Loyola Marymount, we took a good shot from them tonight and we handled it.”
The Buffaloes, now 7-0 on the season, remain one of the 16 undefeated teams so far in the NCAA. Junior guard McKinley Wright and junior forward D’Shawn Schwartz carried the Buffs, scoring 16 apiece. Coming off the bench, sophomore guard Daylen Kountz provided a much-needed spark, scoring 11 points.
The starting five for CU consisted of sophomore guard Eli Parquet, junior forward Tyler Bey, sophomore forward Evan Battey, Schwartz and Wright. Bey, Colorado’s leading scorer, added 13 points but turned the ball over five times in his 29 minutes of play.
“They didn’t force us into turnovers, we did it (to) ourselves,” Wright said. “Brought it upon ourselves on the one-hand catches, the one-hand passes, not coming to a two-foot jump stops. Just making the wrong reads and we know that we’ve got to cut those down for Saturday, and I think we’re capable of doing. We’ve done it before. We’ve shown it before. We’re excited though.”
Going into halftime down 34-30 against the Lions, the Buffs had to turn it around. CU shot 38.5% from the field in the first half and only converted on two of the ten three-point shots they attempted.
Schwartz was able to rally his team with both his scoring and leadership.
“(Coach Boyle) told us the things that we had to fix, the little things, and it was really D’Shawn,” Wright said. “In one of those huddles to start the second half, he kind of looked at me and said ‘we aren’t losing this game.’ When you get something like that, we bought into getting stops down the stretch and we get stops and get on transition, you know we’re hard to stop. It was really on us the players. We just had to buckle down and get stops.”
The Lions were led by junior forward Eli Scott, who set a new career-high, scoring 31 points against the Buffaloes. CU had no answer for Scott, who did everything for the Lions adding 10 rebounds, one assist and one block.
However, when it came down the stretch, Bey blocked Scott’s layup attempt and sealed CU’s win against a solid LMU team. The Buffs rank 11 in points allowed and shut down Scott and the entire LMU team when it mattered most.
Looking ahead, the Buffs have their hands full on Saturday on the road against No. 2 Kansas.
“Kansas puts five players on the floor, we put five players on the floor. It’s time to go to war,” Wright said. “It’s going to be a battle, man. We’re not just going to go in there and roll over because it’s at Allen Fieldhouse. They’re number two in the country … So we’re going to go in there with all the confidence and act like our offense isn’t a problem at all. We’re going to go in there and just play ball.”
The game tips off at 5 p.m MST at Allen Fieldhouse in Lawrence, Kansas and can be watched on ESPN 2.
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