This is a day you’ll never forget — the Colorado Buffaloes are the champions of the legendary Paradise Jam.
Colorado (5-0) put together an impressive performance in a 79-70 win over the Mercer Bears (4-2) in the tournament finale. Veteran leadership and youthful energy got them through a hard-fought game against a strong opponent to take home the grand prize of free hats and backpacks.
This championship game was neck-and-neck in the first half, but Colorado started to pull away five minutes into the second. The Buffaloes defense clamped down and their offense never let up. It looked like the Bears were going to make a run late in the game, but the Buffs kept answering back. As good as Mercer looked, the Buffs were the better team throughout and they picked up a deserved win.
George King and McKinley Wright led the way again for Colorado. King posted a game-high 25 points (9-13 FG, 3-6 3-pt., 4-5 FT) and he also led the Buffs with 8 rebounds. Wright continues to showcase his facilitating abilties as he had 7 assists to go along with his 11 points (3-9 FG, 1-4 3-pt., 4-4 FT). Wright won tournament MVP after averaging 19.3 points, 6 assists and 4.7 rebounds. Colorado wouldn’t have been here with Wright’s buzzer-beater game-winner against Quinnipiac. King was also named to the All-Tournament squad having averaged 16 points and 7.3 rebounds.
Colorado had an excellent two-way game with a balanced attack. Aside from King and McKinley Wright, the Buffs’ supporting cast was led by Namon Wright and Deleon Brown as the two sweet-shooting wings combined for 26 points. Every Buffalo besides Lazar Nikolic scored and the team had 15 assists on 24 made shots — great signs that this team is playing unselfish basketball.
As young as Colorado is, this tournament win is fantastic because it shows the Buffs can fight in tough games. Hopefully this play is what we’ll see throughout the season.
Next up for the Buffs is a home game against Air Force on Sunday, Nov. 26th. If you haven’t been to a game yet, go and support this team and get a good look at these promising freshmen.