So far, the CU men’s basketball team is living up to all the hype.
In the Charleston Classic Tournament, the Buffs took down Dayton University on Thursday, got their revenge against a ranked Baylor University on Friday, and then they pulled out a championship win against Murray State University on Sunday to bring home the trophy.
The final was a back-and-forth game, but in the end Colorado pulled away and beat Murray State, a team that went 31-2 last season, 81-74. The victory was a testament to the Buffs’ depth early in the season, even as a young team. With the win, the Buffs’ record improves to 4-0 overall, while the Racers’ drops to 3-1.
The Buffs’ biggest lead was eight and the Racers’ was six in the game, but both teams were in contention until the final minutes. While the two teams traded buckets throughout, it was a tough defense that won the game and the tournament for the Buffs.
After holding No. 16 Baylor stars Pierre Jackson and Isaiah Austin to 20 combined points in the previous game, CU held Isaiah Canann and Stacy Wilson to 29 combined points. Canann and Wilson average 37 points per game, and Wilson was held to just eight. Much of the credit is due to lone CU senior Sabatino Chen, who guarded Wilson for most of the game.
The Buffs gained a lot of confidence during the weekend as a whole, bringing home CU’s first in-season tournament title since 2002-03. The tournament’s Most Valuable Player was sophomore guard Askia Booker, who scored a career-high 23 points against the Racers. Booker totaled 58 points over the three tournament games.
Junior forward Andre Roberson put up 16 against Murray State to go along with his nine rebounds, and sophomore guard Spencer Dinwiddie added 13.
At halftime of the final the Buffs were up 33-31, though they were hindered by a season-worst 11 first-half turnovers. They led because they held the Racers to 35.7 percent from the field in the first half.
CU raced out to a lead in the second half, but Murray State answered back. The Racers had regained the lead 43-42 until the Buffs scored six in a row to give them a five-point lead. With eight minutes left in the game, the score was tied at 52 when the Buffs went on an 11-1 run and never looked back.
The Racers tried to come back, but the Buffs shot 27-of-36 from the free throw line overall, including big ones down the stretch from Booker, Chen and Dinwiddie. The Buffs’ free throws were much improved from the previous game, when the team made only from of 18 from the line against Baylor.
This is the first in-season tournament the Buffs have won since the Pepsi Classic in 2002, and the first time the team has started the season 4-0 since the 1998-99 season.
The Buffs’ next game is not until after Thanksgiving break, set for Nov. 25 against the Air Force Academy in Boulder.
Contact CU Independent Staff Writer Scott Annis at Robert.firstname.lastname@example.org.