A night after a performance that head coach Tad Boyle called "pathetic", the Buffs took their frustrations out on a Hampton team that never knew what hit them. Despite losing Wesley Gordon for the second half, the Buffs held the Pirates to 32% shooting and 53 points en route to a 42 point win at the Coors Events Center.
Dominique Collier provided the spark early for the Buffs offense, hitting a three-pointer before getting a steal and an easy layup that gave CU an 8-4 lead they never relinquished. Josh Scott was dominant inside, drawing multiple fouls on made layups and scoring 13 points in the first half alone, on his way to 21 for the game. Tory Miller was another bright spot, scoring eight points in the first half, including a going a perfect 4-4 from the line. Despite mediocre shooting from the field, The Buffs took a 17 point lead into the locker room.
Arguably the biggest story of the night was the injuries to CU's big men. Wesley Gordon went down with a knee injury in the first half and did not return to the game. He was on the bench for the start of the second half, with his knee heavily iced, before limping to the locker room.
Shortly after that, Tory Miller got tangled up with a Hampton player and injured his shoulder. He too went to the locker room for a brief time, but he returned to the court a few minutes later and re-entered the game.
The game was never close, and the Buffs consistently pulled away in the second half, to the point where Josh Repine, Brett Brady and Mitch Lombard were able to close the game out while the regular rotation players rested on the bench.
CU again scored more than 50 points in the second half, giving them their fourth 90-point performance of the season, and their 10th straight game scoring more than 80. Perhaps not coincidentally, the Buffs have won all of those games. The 53 points they allowed was their second best lowest opponent total of the season. The impressive thing about that defensive performance is that Wesley Gordon was only on the floor for 11 minutes before going out with his injury.
Here are three things we learned tonight:
1. Tory Miller can be a game changer
With Wesley Gordon on the sidelines, Miller had arguably the best game of his career, fighting through an injury of his own to collect 19 points (a career high), 10 rebounds and three blocks. It was his second career double-double and a hugely encouraging sign for the Buffs' frontcourt going forward if Gordon has to miss time. In the post-game press conference, Miller said that that he's been "playing with more of a chip on my shoulder" this season, and that the whole team has as well. He said the Buffs "play mad" this year, and it definitely seemed like they were trying to silence the nervous murmurs about the team playing down to its competition thus far. When asked how one goes about "playing Mad", Miller said the solution was to "just go out there and ball". He certainly did tonight.
2. Kenan Guzonjic has potential
Another player who got more playing time than usual tonight in the absence of Wesley Gordon was Kenan Guzonjic, who scored eight points and grabbed five rebounds in nine minutes of play. He hit his second three-pointer of the season as well, and if he truly has that kind of range it could be huge for his game.
3. This team is capable of taking care of the ball
Turnovers have been a huge issue for the Buffs thus far this season, with their turnover margin ranking last in the Pac-12. Tonight they only turned the ball over six times against 23 assists. Though there were still some poor decisions made by George King and others, it was by far their best game of the season in terms of ball security.
Things get much more difficult for the Buffs from here on out, with a trip to Vegas on Tuesday and Wednesday that will see them match up against Penn State and either SMU or Kent State. A matchup with SMU would be a huge opportunity for CU to prove themselves against a ranked opponent for the first time since their opening game of the season. This is the second time in three years that the Buffs have won ten games in a row following a season-opening loss, and two years ago that streak was snapped in Las Vegas by #7 Oklahoma State. CU will be hoping for a different result this time.