Tad Boyle's old team gave him a scare Saturday afternoon, but a balanced attack, featuring five players in double figures for the first time this season, proved to be enough for the Buffs to top Northern Colorado, 93-68.
"This is the time of year, whether you win or whether you lose, we have to learn, we have to grow, we have to get better with every experience we have." said Boyle. "Tonight I think we learned from the positive things offensively, when we shared the ball, when we moved the ball it didn't stick."
Wesley Gordon had 11 of his 13 points in the first 20 minutes, finishing around the rim against an undersized Northern Colorado frontcourt.
Cameron Michael and Jordan Wilson kept Northern Colorado in the game, shooting a combined 6-of-6 from downtown. With 7:13 left in the first half, UNC's Tevin Svihovec drove and scored to tie the game at 31. As a team, the Bears hit eight three-pointers on 8-of-10 shooting in a high-scoring first half.
Colorado took a 44-42 lead into the locker room, as the Bears closed on an 8-2 run. Josh Scott started to rebound from his tough outing against Colorado State. The big man from Monument got to the charity stripe four times in the first half and hit his first field goal since the 5:12 mark of the second half against Georgia.
Scott continued to roll in the second half. By the first media timeout, Scott had six more points. Colorado went up by 10 when Gordon put back a Scott miss with just under 16 minutes left in the game.
UNC bounced back and got within three with a 7-0 run, capped by an old-fashioned three-point play by Michael.
With less than 10 minutes left and Northern Colorado still hanging around, the Buffs went on a 19-3 run, putting the Bears to bed.
Scott finished with a game-high 21 points and eight rebounds. Askia Booker added 20 points, dishing out five assists and only turning the ball over once. Booker finished 5-of-9 from behind the three-point line.
"He had a great floor game," Boyle said of Booker. "We'll take that every day out of Ski. He was really looking to get Wesley the ball early, which I thought was a really mature thing to do."
Xavier Johnson was efficient again Saturday afternoon, scoring 16 points on 5-of-6 shooting. Gordon finished in double figures for the first time since the Nov. 17 meeting with Auburn, tallying 13 points. Jaron Hopkins stuffed the box score with 10 points, five rebounds, and five assists.
Colorado will take a break for finals week before preparations for the Diamond Head Classic begin. The Buffs begin the tournament with a Dec. 22 matchup with DePaul.