The University of Colorado men’s basketball team handed Prairie View AMU their eighth loss of the season Thursday evening, winning by a score of 83-64. It’s worth noting that these teams have only met once before, exactly 11 years ago at the CU Events Center in a game the Buffs won handily, 72-47.
Both teams came out of the gate looking sluggish, each sporting a pair of turnovers just four minutes into the game. The scoring didn’t look much better as CU hit just 1-of-8 of their field goals compared to Prairie View’s 2-of-10 only seven minutes in.
“Turnovers and (allowing) second opportunities against good teams will come back to haunt you, we have to understand that,” said CU head coach Tad Boyle.
Colorado’s turnover struggles continued with no end in sight. Just 10 minutes in and the Buffs had five turnovers, making fans worrisome, especially with CU coming off a 21-turnover game against Colorado State University last week. The Buffs hung on to a meager 12-10 lead with twelve minutes left to play in the half.
“We have got to be better (at) taking care of the ball,” said Colorado guard McKinley Wright. “I think we still had 16 turnovers which we (have) got to limit.”
With ten minutes remaining in the first half, guard/forward Tyler Bey decided to turn on the afterburners. Bey faked a shot in the corner to lose his defender, drove to the basket and delivered a huge two-handed dunk. On the next play, Bey took a charge and forced a turnover, working the crowd into a frenzy.
Prairie View managed to keep the score close at the end of the half mainly due to their defensive play, earning six steals by halftime.
Wright and Bey carried the Buffs in the first half. Wright shot 3-of-4 from the field, battling for four rebounds and scoring nine points while Bey scored seven points as well as two rebounds and a block. The Buffs would finish the first half leading 35-28.
“I thought McKinley the whole night was looking to get guys involved,” Boyle said. “If you look at his line, he scores 11 points on five shots. He was very efficient, six assists, seven rebounds and two blocked shots.”
Coming out of the locker room, forward Evan Battey continued to return morale to the Buffs, scoring nine points on 3-of-3 shooting to start the second half. Battey worked himself into the paint and forced AMU to either foul him or let him have the bucket. With twelve minutes remaining in the game, Colorado had a 48-39 lead.
“I always drive to the basket when one of my teammates is posting up,” Battey said. “It’s just what I do, always.”
Both teams struggled from deep throughout the game. Colorado shot 5-of-19 from downtown while Prairie View shot 1-of-9. Driving for layups in the paint characterized most of the game’s scoring. Colorado held on to a 52-45 lead with nine minutes left.
Guard/forward D’Shawn Schwartz pumped some energy back into the Colorado crowd after he hit back to back three-pointers to stretch CU’s lead to 15 points, making the game 64-49 with just over six minutes remaining. After Colorado had only hit two shots from downtown all game, Schwartz hit three in a row.
“I just needed to see something go in, once I make one it feels like the basket gets huge,” Schwartz said. “McKinley told me to keep shooting it, Evan told me to keep shooting it, and if your two guys really believe in you that’s going to help you play really well.”
A pair of Battey free throws put the Buffs up by 20 points. with five minutes remaining. Colorado never looked back and finished the game with a final score of 83-64.
“I thought we did a good job tonight, for the most part,” Boyle said. “Shooting 55% in the second half shows great efficiency and we’ll take the win and move on, now it’s on to Chicago and the Dayton Flyers.”
Colorado will travel to Chicago to take on Dayton this Saturday, Dec. 21 at 5:30 p.m. CST.
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