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Buffaloes win Rocky Mountain Showdown after rocky start

The Buffs overcame a putrid first half to beat their rivals.

NCAA Basketball: Colorado State at Colorado Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

While most of you were watching Oklahoma-Texas, Alabama-Georgia and following the situation with Mel Tucker, the Colorado Buffaloes crashed head first with the rival Colorado State Rams. The collision was gruesome, but the Buffs came away with an 86-80 win to improve to 5-1 on the season.

Colorado opened the game with icy shooting. In the opening ten minutes or so, the Buffs shot 5-16 from the field (31%) and 1-7 from deep (bad%) despite generating open looks against a mediocre CSU defense. Thank goodness for Lucas Siewert because he was the only one who didn’t forget how to shoot and he abused CSU in the paint. The Rams, meanwhile, had all the rolls and bounces early, as well as some nice shots, but didn’t capitalize on the Buffs’ struggles thanks to their sloppy play that led to 9 first half turnovers.

Colorado started hitting more shots — it would be hard not to — but their shooting woes persisted. CU wound up shooting 32% from the field in the half, which, I’m sure you know, is not good. The only stat they led CSU in was offensive rebounds, but even that was possible because of the sheer quantity of missed shots. Considering first-year coach Niko Medved’s brilliant strategy of “make ridiculous shots” and “give the ball to the tall guy,” the Buffs were lucky to go into the half down 32-29.

Besides Siewert and his sweet, sweet jumper, McKinley Wright was the only other player half-awake. He assisted or made 6 of 12 Colorado field goals and had two steals. Elsewhere, Evan Battey struggled to hold up against Nico Carvacho, D’Shawn Schwartz looked completely lost and didn’t find the floor in the second half, and Namon Wright disappeared offensively. The struggles were a team effort, to be sure.

Colorado was a different team in the second half. They looked like an actually good college basketball team instead of my intramural basketball team whose high scorer was an overweight computer science student who shoots like a hybrid of Carlos Boozer and Marucs Camby. The only real adjustment Tad Boyle called was the ole “make your shots or I’m pulling your scholarships.” It worked beautifully. Sometimes basketball is simple.

Wright (18 points, 11 assists and 7 rebounds) and Siewert (16 points and 10 rebounds) continued solid performances. Tyler Bey joined in and scored 21 second half points on an array of dunks and contested layups. No one else besides Shane Gatling (15 points) did anything besides play defense and miss shots, but in the second half that was just enough for CU to build an 11-point lead and survive a late CSU run.

Up next for the Buffs is a Tuesday home game against South Dakota (2-3). The Coyotes aren’t exactly good, but that’s never stopped CU from turning a blowout into an upset scare. Stay tuned.