Buffaloes defeat Mercer 79-70, win Paradise Jam

Senior guard George King drives the ball toward the basket during the second half of play at the Coors Events Center. Nov. 10, 2017 (Nigel Amstock/CU Independent)

After defeating the Drake Bulldogs 86-81 in the second round of the Paradise Jam tournament in Lynchburg, Virginia, on Friday, the Colorado Buffaloes men’s basketball team downed Mercer 79-70 Saturday night to win the tourney.

The Buffs were boosted by a monster game from senior guard George King, who led the team with 25 points on 9-of-13 shooting. He also snagged eight rebounds.

Colorado was more effective from long range on Sunday, as the team converted 8-of-21 tries from downtown.

The Buffs found themselves down for much of the first half — Mercer jumped to a 7-2 lead within two minutes. After trailing by as much as seven in the first 10 minutes of play, sophomore guard Deleon Brown’s steal off of Mercer’s Jaylen Stowe set up a three-pointer from King. The Buffaloes tied the game at 13 at the 13:21 mark.

Mercer followed up by going on a 5-0 run in the ensuing minute, but back-to-back jumpers by freshman center Dallas Walton brought the Buffs back to the surface. They still trailed 18-17.

With 9:42 remaining before halftime, senior forward Tory Miller-Stewart made a layup, putting Colorado up 21-20. This was the Buffs’ first lead of the game.

The Bears failed to score a basket for nearly two minutes, and the Buffaloes went up 31-26 with just over six minutes before the half.

Colorado and Mercer were tied at 37 with less than a minute remaining before halftime. Two free throws by junior guard Namon Wright put the Buffaloes up 39-37 as both teams headed to their locker rooms.

On the day, CU made 76.7 percent of its free throws.

Colorado took a 46-39 lead shortly into the second half thanks to a pair of free throws from Miller-Stewart, who finished with five points in the win. A three-pointer from King put CU up 49-41 about a minute later. He scored 16 of his 25 points in the final half,

The Buffaloes outscored Mercer 40-33 in the second half. They also won the battle for the boards, snagging 32 rebounds in the game to the Bears’ 29.

The closest Mercer would come would be within five points of the Buffs. Colorado maintained a good pace and comfortable cushion over the Bears in the final 15 minutes of play.

Freshman guard McKinley Wright IV was named the tourney MVP, largely thanks to his back-to-back 21-point performances that propelled Colorado over Quinnipiac and Drake. He scored 11 in Saturday’s win and again led the team in assists, this time with seven.

Brown and Wright both contributed 13 in the victory.

Next up for the Buffaloes is a home game against in-state opponent Air Force on Sunday, Nov. 26, at the Coors Events Center. Tipoff is at 2 p.m.

Contact CU Independent Head Sports Editor Justin Guerriero at justin.guerriero@colorado.edu and follow him on Twitter @TheHungry_Hippo.

Justin Guerriero

Head Sports Editor Justin Guerriero is a city boy from Pittsburgh, PA, who fell in love with the mountains upon touring CU Boulder for the first time prior to his freshman year. He is a diehard Pittsburgh sports fan and covers whatever needs to be covered at the CUI. Justin is a junior majoring in broadcast production with minors in history and communication. Follow him on Twitter @TheHungry_Hippo

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