The Colorado Buffaloes bounced back from their crushing defeat in Fort Collins last Saturday afternoon, as they defeated the New Mexico Lobos by the score of 75-57 on Wednesday.
The win brings the Buffs to 7-1 on the season. But Colorado head coach Tad Boyle accurately described the game as having won fifth place in a beauty contest.
In other words, the win certainly wasn’t pretty.
The overarching theme in Wednesday night’s game was Colorado’s ability to fiercely crash the glass, yet not being able to take care of the ball.
The Buffs set a season-high in team rebounding with 58 rebounds. Their next best total this year came against the Denver Pioneers when they snatched 46 rebounds.
“We rebounded the ball well,” Boyle said. “If we would’ve rebounded like that last Saturday, we’d be 8-0 instead of 7-1.”
Senior guard George King led the way in rebounding for the Buffaloes with 11, while freshman guard McKinley Wright IV and freshman center Dallas Walton followed suit with 10 and eight rebounds, respectively. It was a career-high for Wright IV.
After senior forward Tory Miller-Stewart picked up a season-ending injury last week in practice, Walton started in last Saturday’s rivalry game against the Colorado State Rams. He made his first home start as a Buffalo on Wednesday and didn’t disappoint.
“He had eight rebounds in 15 minutes; those are really good numbers,” Boyle said. “Dallas is going to be better and better the more minutes he plays. I am very pleased with how he is playing, and he is gaining confidence.”
Meanwhile, Wright IV continues to impress everybody left and right, especially on the glass.
“[Rebounding] was a huge emphasis,” Wright IV said. “It’s something we’ve got to be better in order to be a tournament team. Our next game on Saturday against Xavier, a top 15 team in the country, rebounding [is] going to be huge. It’s gonna be the most physical game we’ll play all year against probably the best rebounding team as well.”
Wednesday night also marked the first career start for freshman guard Lazar Nikolic, who also ended up with eight rebounds on the night.
“Lazar [Nikolic] is our best rebounding perimeter player outside of McKinley [Wright IV],” Boyle said. “Lazar got the start because he’s rebounding the ball for us … Our team functions well when he’s in the game.”
The sour side in Colorado’s victory was turnovers.
The Buffaloes turned the ball over 23 times, which is the most since having 23 turnovers against the Stanford Cardinal last season. In the first half alone, the Buffs were guilty of surrendering 12 turnovers.
“We knew that turnovers could have been an issue going in,” Boyle said. “We talked about it and practiced it, but didn’t handle it well.”
While Wright IV’s solid night consisted of a double-double with 12 points and 10 rebounds, he also was responsible for five turnovers, tying the game-high amount with sophomore guard Deleon Brown.
“It’s all on me, I had five,” Wright IV said. “I got sped up, made some dumb decisions. We got sped up a little more than we should’ve. We just got to be patient with teams like that and hit the first open man. That’s what we struggled with tonight.”
The Lobos were able to make the most of Colorado’s mishaps claiming 28 points off of the Buffaloes’ 23 turnovers.
The Buffaloes will travel to Cincinnati, Ohio, to take on the No. 13 Xavier Musketeers Saturday. Game time is scheduled for 3 p.m and will be aired on Fox Sports 1.
Contact CU Independent sports staff writer Drew Sharek at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @drew_sharek.