After two games that came down to the final few minutes, the Colorado Buffaloes (3-0) asserted their dominance over the Maine Black Bears (1-2), blowing them out 90-46 at the CU Events Center.
The biggest highlight of the first two-game has been sophomore guard Keeshawn Barthelemy’s emergence as the Buffs’ leading scorer. Monday was no different as he scored in double figures again with 22 points on 9-12 shooting. Each game this season, Barthelemy has topped his career-high in points. He said his strong start to the season was due to his team finding him for open shots.
“My teammates, honestly,” said Barthelemy. “It’s not about me, it’s about my teammates looking for me and being unselfish. Kudos to them for finding me.”
Barthelemy’s team-first attitude plays directly into the type of basketball head coach Tad Boyle wants to play. A team with no individual goals should be the team that shows up every night.
“If our team does not play with individual agendas offensively, we have a chance to be pretty good,” said Boyle. “We have a lot of weapons, a lot of guys that can score on different nights. “We have to continue to make plays for each other, and if we do that, we’ll be pretty good.”
Boyle’s mantra was envisioned Monday night as three players, Barthelemy, along with sophomores Jabari Walker and Nique Clifford, scored in double figures. Through the first three non-conference games, the Buffs have done well in making sure multiple players are scoring the ball.
The Buffs’ offense was not the only aspect of their team on display Monday, as defensively, Colorado was stout throughout most of the game. Over the final five minutes of the first half, the Buffaloes outscored Maine 21-7 to take a 46-29 lead into the locker room.
One major problem for the Buffaloes during the first two games was their turnovers. Against Maine, the Buffs ball security was much improved, only turning it over ten times, an individual game goal for Colorado. The Buffs also continued to get the FT line at a high rate, shooting 30 charity shots against Maine and 100 total attempts on the season, which is the most in a three-game stretch since 2014.
“We always want to play inside out,” said Boyle. “We want to be in attack mode. We cannot rely on the free-throw line all the time, but we still want to put foul pressure on a team and get to the line.”
Coming out of the break, the Buffs were in attack mode and had all the momentum. Within the first four minutes of the second half, the Buffs went on a 10-0 run, extending their lead to 56-32.
From there, Colorado would only allow 14 more points as they shut the door on the Black Bears defensively. Maine would only make 10 of its final 35 shots.
“Our intensity picked up, and we started pressing a little bit,” said Boyle. “I thought in the second half we really started sharing the ball well. We wanted to wear them (Maine) down.”
The large lead provided significant game action for the young Colorado team, including freshman guard Julian Hammond III. He received his first official college playing time, scoring 8 points and grabbing four rebounds. Walker was pleased with the amount of time the young players received.
“It is an amazing feeling because they work so hard, and they deserve it,” said Walker. “They deserve more minutes they played tonight. Anything they get is amazing. They practice every day with us; they work just as hard as all of us.”
The 3-0 Buffs have a three-game road trip in the US Virgin Islands ahead of them to continue to improve before the start of conference play. Colorado will face Southern Illinois in their opening game of the Paradise Jam on Friday, Nov. 19, at 6 p.m. MT.