The Colorado Buffaloes demolished the Georgetown Hoyas, 96-73. It was a tour de force for McKinley Wright and the Buffs, building a 24-point halftime lead and coasting to their first NCAA Tournament win since 2012.
The Buffs started a bit slow — perhaps nervous for their first tournament game since 2016, perhaps adjusting to Georgetown’s zone defense — but it didn’t take long for Wright to crack the code. He figured out their entire scheme of help defense after about five minutes of basketball, then spent the next fifteen minutes slinging the ball every which way for wide open shots. He had 8 assists in the half, the most any CU player has had in a tournament game (!), and the Buffs assisted 15 of their 16 made field goals (!!).
Georgetown’s pack defense was no match for CU’s ball movement, especially once the Buffs went 5-out with shooters all over the floor. First it was Jabari Walker getting hot, hitting all four three-pointers he attempted, scoring 14 points off the bench. (He was lucky to stay in the game after a horror foul on Timothy Ighoefe.) Then it was D’Shawn Schwartz popping off for four made threes himself. Wide open shots aplenty, the Buffs hit 11 of 16 attempts from deep.
The Buffs led 47-23 at half, not only because of their shooting, but because they played flawless defense for 20 minutes. Georgetown tried to pound the ball inside, but they really struggling penetrating the defense. When they did get the ball in there, Colorado swarmed to the ball to force missed shots and crashed the defensive glass. The Hoyas shot 30% from the field and 6/13 from the foul line. Clearly it wasn’t their night, but credit goes to the CU defense.
Just minutes into the second half, the Buffs built their lead to 30 points. Dallas Walton got in on the fun, scoring 7 points off dunks and a triple, before Wright hit an and-1 layup. After the latter play, Kin smiled as he pointed up to the crowd, his father cheering him on.
McKinley Wright IV points at his dad after making the and-1 pic.twitter.com/0aaqhtVSXp— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) March 20, 2021
The Buffs stepped off the pedal, as they are wont to do. The Hoyas started hitting threes, crashing the boards and even forcing some turnovers with their full court press. They cut the lead to 18 points before Wright re-entered the game to set the tone anew. It was classic Buffs basketball — something Tad Boyle will be pissed about, and something they can get upset about heading into the second round.
Colorado ended up winning this game 96-73, the most points they have scored all season. Their 27 assists tonight were the most CU has had in a game since 2009.
Wright was the star of the show, compiling 12 points, 13 assists (with zero turnovers) and 5 rebounds. Walker had his career-high of 24 points, which is a welcome development after he’s struggled since coming back from a foot injury. Schwartz also had one of the best games of his career, contributing 18 points in addition to his always excellent defense and rebounding. The only that didn’t work was Jeriah Horne going quiet, so maybe CU has even more upside as the tournament unfolds.
The Buffs will play the winner of Florida State and UNC Greensboro on Monday, March 22. It will most likely be FSU, who 45-36 lead as of this publishing. They are an excellent defense team who might have the most length of any team in the nation. If Colorado plays like they did today, we could see the Buffs in the Sweet Sixteen.
Also of note, the Pac-12 is now 3-0 in the NCAA Tournament after UCLA and Oregon State won their matchup. The USC Trojans, Oregon Ducks and Bruins will all play later tonight, although no one here would mind if two of those teams were upset.