The Colorado Buffaloes hosted Northern Colorado in their home opener Monday night at the CU Events Center. After falling in Knoxville to No. 12 Tennessee last Tuesday, Colorado looked to get back on track against the Bears. Head coach Tad Boyle and the Buffs defeated Northern Colorado, 81-45.
“I thought we were really efficient tonight,” Boyle said following the win. “Offensively, we shot over 50 percent, we haven’t done that I don’t think all year. Defensively, I thought we did a good job with our ball screen coverages because Northern Colorado is a good ball screen team, they’re a good driving team, they’re a good three-point shooting team. I thought we did a really good job defensively against them.”
Northern Colorado entered the contest 2-0, posting blowout victories over Colorado Christian and Regis. Monday’s trip to Boulder appeared to be the Bears first legitimate test away from home. A familiar face for CU fans resided among the opposition; Northern Colorado junior guard Daylen Kountz made his return to the CU Events Center for the first time in a Bears uniform. The junior guard spent his first two seasons with Colorado.
Limiting turnovers was a focal point for Colorado following its performance against the Volunteers. CU turned the ball over a season-high 23 times and shot just 33% from the field last Tuesday, a recipe, according to their head coach, to get blown out. The Buffaloes will more than likely go as far as senior guard McKinley Wright IV can take them. In Colorado’s first two matchups, the senior led the way with back-to-back 20-point performances. Against Tennessee, he struggled posting just eight points with five giveaways.
A hook shot from junior forward Evan Battey opened the scoring. Wright IV and senior center Dallas Walton accounted for nine of Colorado’s 11 points at the under-16 timeout.
Both Battey and Walton spoke postgame about the game plan to establish a presence on the interior, reiterating the idea of playing inside out.
“We knew that we had advantage down low,” Walton said. “We needed to establish ourselves down low and establish an inside presence.”
Battey echoed similar sentiments regarding the Buffs’ style of play on the offensive end. The junior forward said making shots becomes contagious when the ball is moving well.
“I feel like we played really unselfish tonight,” Battey said. “When the ball has that kinetic energy, it’s hard to miss shots.”
A follow-up dunk from freshman forward Jabari Walker and a layup from senior forward Jeriah Horne gave the Buffs a 16-8 lead. Redshirt freshman guard Keeshawn Barthelemy finished at the rim to extend the Colorado lead to double digits. Once again, the answer for Northern Colorado came from Kountz. The junior from Denver had five of the Bears’ 11 points with eight minutes left in the half.
Sophomore guard Eli Parquet finished on a lob from Wright IV and CU led 23-11 at the under-eight timeout. Battey scored five straight for the Buffaloes after converting an and-one at the charity stripe. The junior from Villa Park, California found Barthelemy cutting back-door to give Colorado a 21 point advantage. A layup from senior guard Maddox Daniels forced a Northern Colorado timeout.
Battey led the way for the Buffaloes at the break with 12 points and five rebounds. Colorado held a 45-21 advantage.
Walton opened the second half scoring for CU, hitting from downtown. Colorado then maintained a sizeable advantage for the final 20 minutes. Walker picked up his fourth personal foul with less than eight minutes gone in the half, forcing extended minutes for Walton. The senior from Arvada turned in a solid performance for the Buffs, scoring 12 points on 4-of-6 shooting in 19 minutes.
The Buffaloes led 65-38 at the under-eight timeout after a layup from junior guard Eli Parquet. Back-to-back threes from Wright IV extended the margin to 31. Senior forward D’Shawn Schwartz scored his first points of the season to cap a 9-0 Colorado run.
CU improved to 3-1 on the season with an 81-45 victory over Northern Colorado. Battey and Wright IV led the Buffs in scoring, combining for 33 points, 13 rebounds and eight assists.
CU will have a quick turnaround, hosting Nebraska-Omaha Wednesday afternoon at the CU Events Center. The game will tip at 3 p.m. MST on the Pac-12 Network.
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