Colorado falls short to Longhorns, 68-55, in NIT quarterfinals

Freshman forward Evan Battey returns to the bench during the second half of play after receiving his fourth personal foul. The Buffs eventually fell 68-55 to the Longhorns at the Frank Erwin Center. March 27, 2019 (Nigel Amstock/CU Independent)

The Colorado Buffaloes’ basketball season is officially over.

After reaching the NIT quarterfinals, the Buffs fell short to the Texas Longhorns on the road in Austin, by a score of 68-55. The Longhorns now proceed to Madison Square Garden in New York City for the tournament’s final four, and the Buffaloes will head back to Boulder.

The game did not start well for Colorado, as Texas built up a nine-point lead just over six minutes into the contest. But as the game settled in, CU gained some momentum and pulled the game within one, 14-13, at the 10 minute mark of the first half.

Texas head coach Shaka Smart fist pumps following a charge call against Colorado during the first half of play at the Frank Erwin Center. March 27, 2019 (Nigel Amstock/CU Independent)

But just as quickly as the Buffs made it into a game, the Longhorns ended it. After pulling within one, Texas trucked Colorado on a five-minute long, 16-0 scoring run that effectively dug a large enough hole of which the Buffaloes would never come close to getting out.

After coming to within one point, CU only mustered five more points in the rest of the half. The halftime score read 44-19 in favor of the ‘Horns.

The Buffs shot a lowly 29 percent from the floor in the first half, while Texas shot 50 percent. The real killer in the first half were the three-pointers from the Longhorns. They hit 7-of-13 from deep for a 54 percent make-rate.

The second half played very much as the first half did for the Buffs, who after ending the first half down 25 points, allowed another 25-point advantage for Texas by the 5:26 mark of the second half.

The Buffs did, however, mount a respectable little comeback in the final five minutes of the game. CU ended the game on a 19-7 run to pull the score within 13 before time expired.

Sophomore guard/forward Tyler Bey ended his season with a team-leading 18 points and 13 rebounds for his 17th double-double of the season. Sophomore guards McKinley Wright IV and D’Shawn Schwartz both ended the game with 11 points.

For the second game in a row, Wright IV paced the Buffs in turnovers, coughing up the ball a team-high five times at Texas.

Colorado ended the game shooting just 33 percent from field goal range while Texas was able to make 42 percent of its shots. The Longhorns also led from three-point range, hitting 41 percent from downtown while the Buffaloes only managed 4-of-17 from deep.

Texas also had a slight advantage in rebounds during the game, out-boarding the Buffs by a 37-36 margin, a rarely-seen occurrence by Colorado. CU owned the Pac-12 Conference’s third-best rebounding rate during the season, while holding teams to a conference-leading low average of 31.3 rebounds allowed to opposing teams.

While the season is now over, there are plenty of positives to takeaway from it. Finishing the season 23-13 is the best win total since the 2013-14 season, and the 10-8 record in Pac-12 play is tied for the second-best total since CU joined the conference in 2011.

Overall, the 23 victories are tied for the third-most for the Buffs in school history.

Another important thing to remember is just how young this team is. Colorado will only graduate one senior, Namon Wright, who hadn’t played since suffering a foot injury on Jan. 20. With the starting rotation being made up of sophomore guards/fowards Wright IV, Bey, Schwartz, redshirt freshman forward Evan Battey and junior guard Shane Gatling, that same rotation will return next season as juniors, a sophomore and a senior, respectively.

So keep your heads up, Colorado. This team could be very dangerous in the coming seasons.

Contact CU Independent Sports Editor Scott MacDonald at scma0899@colorado.edu and follow him on Twitter @ScottTopics

Contact CU Independent Head Visuals Editor Nigel Amstock at nigel.amstock@colorado.edu, who was on the scene in Austin, photographing the game on March 27.

Scott MacDonald

SCOTT MACDONALD IS THE ASSISTANT SPORTS EDITOR FOR THE CU INDEPENDENT. ORIGINALLY HAILING FROM MELBOURNE, FLORIDA, AT THE AGE OF FIVE, SCOTT AND HIS FAMILY MOVED TO COLORADO (BEFORE IT WAS COOL). IT WAS HERE IN COLORADO THAT SCOTT GREW INTO HIS OBSESSION FOR SPORTS, AND HE'S NOW EXCITED TO BE ABLE TO SCRIBE THAT PASSION THROUGH THE MEDIUM OF THE CUI. SCOTT IS MAJORING IN COMMUNICATION WITH A MINOR IN BUSINESS. FOLLOW HIM ON TWITTER @SCOTTTOPICS.

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