The Colorado Buffaloes (11-2) defeated the Iona Gaels (2-5) on Sunday, 99-54 The Buffs played excellent team-offense and were dominant defensively as they stayed in rhythm between the upset over Dayton and their crucial home game against Oregon (Jan. 2).
The Buffs function best when McKinley Wright is in control. It was clear Kin had that intention today as he was aggressive with his shooting and passing from the very start of the game. He hit two three-pointers to get the Buffs going, then made a string of next-level passes to get his teammates involved. Everything flows through him so this offense tends to struggle or excel depending on his aggressiveness.
CU shot the ball well in the opening ten minutes, but you could criticize them for settling for jumpers after that early success. When you have guys like Evan Battey and Tyler Bey against an undersized and overmatched mid-major in Iona, you should work the ball inside and crash the glass. By halftime, the Buffs scored only 10 points in the paint and shot just 8 free throws. Not that CU really needed those points, especially with Iona shooting 17% (!) from the field in the half, but the Buffs can’t get into the bad habit of settling for jumpers.
It would have been easy to come out of halftime with a 35-19 lead and try to coast to a win. Instead, the Buffs ran the Gaels out of the gym with a dominant 15-3 run in the first four minutes of the half. Tad Boyle must have said something about all those jumpers because they worked hard to feed Battey and Bey on the interior. Battey finished with 12 points and 12 rebounds in yet another star performance for the sophomore big. (CU also let it fly after building a huge lead, eventually making a school-record 17 threes on just 28 attempts.)
Another thing that was fun to watch in this game was CU’s ball movement. The offense flowed through Wright, but the entire team was playing selflessly searching for the best shot. Before garbage time, Colorado assisted on 76% of their baskets today (26 assists on 34 FGs), compared to a season average of 55%. Wright had 10 assists off a number of ridiculous passes. D’Shawn Schwartz had 14 points and 9 rebounds and his passing was particularly sharp off the drive.
CU built up a 76-38 lead before the reserves and walk-ons finished out the final eight minutes and even the reserves were dominant. (Shouts to Jakub Dombek.) That was the ideal scenario for today as the Buffs played terrific team basketball after an eight-day break. This performance bodes quite well heading into Buffs’ home matchup against the #6 Oregon Ducks on Thursday.