The University of Colorado Buffaloes men’s basketball team defeated the Utah Utes Sunday afternoon, 91-52. The No. 25 Buffs bounced back from their 68-76 loss to Oregon State a week earlier. That loss left a bad taste in Colorado head coach Tad Boyle’s mouth, but today’s performance impressed him.
“That was, I think, as complete a performance by our team all year,” Boyle said. “When you put in offense, you put in defense, you put in rebounding, you know all those things, and you outrebound a team by 20 and you have 17 assists with eight turnovers and you execute the defensive game plan the way our guys did tonight, it just shows you what the ceiling of this team is going to be.”
The game was a tale of fire and ice, Colorado started hot with a 14-2 run and ended the half up 44-22. The Buffs kept the pace, outscoring Utah by 17 points in the second period.
“They are a good defensive team, one of the best in the country,” said Utah head coach Larry Krystkowiak of CU. “They have a lot of facets to make them successful. They came out and responded very well.”
CU dominated the glass, outrebounding Utah by 18 on the back of junior forward Tyler Bey’s and sophomore forward Evan Battey’s 13 and 10 rebounds respectively. Seven of Battey’s boards came from the offensive glass, contributing to CU’s 14 second-chance points.
“Evan Battey was a beast tonight, I don’t know what other adjective I could use for him on the backboards,” Boyle said. “He set the tone with our offensive rebounding in the first half, and then you know, I challenged Tyler at half time, ‘Hey you can join him in that rebounding party,’ and then Tyler did a better job with the second half.”
The Buffs’ defense shined throughout the game, holding the Utes to 35% from the floor. Colorado also forced 13 turnovers to score 23 points. Utah entered the game with the second strongest scoring offense in the Pac-12, averaging 78 points per game.
“We did a really good job on their three guys that were averaging over 50 points a game in the first two league games,” Boyle said. “I don’t know what we held them to tonight, but it was less than 52, I know that.”
Utah sophomore forward Timmy Allen entered the game averaging 22 points per game in Pac-12 play. CU held him to only seven points on 18% shooting. Junior guard McKinley Wright Jr. addressed how the team defended Allen.
“Team effort. Our coaches the entire week kept saying his name,” Wright said. “We took that as an individual challenge and as a collective challenge to shut their water off. We kept hearing his name all week, it was kind of annoying.”
“It was a team effort on Tim Allen, there’s no doubt about that,” Boyle added. “Because he wants to put the ball on the floor and drive, we really talked all week about getting our arms out and hands off because he thrives on getting to the foul line and he’ll jump into you and get you into the air.”
Two Buffs put up double-doubles, Battey and Bey, and Wright nearly had a triple-double with 16 points, seven rebounds and eight assists. The team shot 59% from the field and 39% from downtown. Battey led the team with 17 points while Wright dished out eight assists and never turned the ball over.
“This is Colorado basketball and it’s hard to beat us when we’re playing like this,” Battey said.
Colorado now turns to its first road trip of the conference season. CU played Arizona State to start their season in China but faced a Sundevils team missing three players.
“We know it’s going to be a battle. We beat them our first game of the year. I think we are 0-2 there. We want to go in there and get a win,” Wright said.
The Buffs will play Arizona State in Tempe next Thursday, Jan. 16 at 7 p.m. MST.
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