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Namon Wright carries the Buffaloes in season opening victory over Drake

After knocking off some rust early on, it was an impressive opening night performance.

The Colorado Buffaloes tipped off the basketball season in impressive fashion with a 100-71 route of the Drake Bulldogs. Colorado outscored Drake 55-37 in the second half to run away with the ballgame. It was CU’s highest point total for an opening game since the 1990 when they scored 113 points against CSU Northridge.

The Buffs got off to a hot start going on a 5-0 run to start the game. Tyler Bey recorded an impressive block and then scored the first offensive bucket of the season on the other end to start the contest.

Later Colorado went on a 12-0 run in 1:58 to go up 27-19. The scoring streak was aided by two shots, a steal, and a block in under a minute by newcomer and Juco transfer Shane Gatling.

However it wasn’t all sunshine & roses for the Buffs in the first half. Drake promptly answered the run with a 10-3 streak of their own to cut the score to 33-32 with 3:17 to go in the half. Point Guard DJ Wilkins had two three’s during the run. He would finish the matchup tied for a team-high four three pointers to go along with 16 points. Colorado was unable to get a spark offensively during the stretch.

“I thought we struggled a little bit out of the chute tonight, we were sputtering a little bit, and I thought we settled for three’s,” Boyle said. “We always want paint touches - it’s something we talk about, our first basket of the game was Tyler Bey got the ball to the rim. You have to see that ball go through for it to go through again, and I thought early in the game we were simply settling.”

Colorado rebounded nicely after the run finishing the first half on a high note. McKinley Wright had a nice tip on at the buzzer to put CU up 45-34 at the break.

Namon Wright helped extend the lead right out of the break, scoring five straight points including his third three pointer of the night. Wright had the best game of his CU career scoring 25 points (including a team high five threes) and tallying eight rebounds. Making things more impressive was the fact that he had that much success coming off the bench. Wright humbly attributed most of his success tonight to having teammates that put him in the right position.

“Having a good point guard, having good teammates, just being confident and shooting the ball when I’m open, and just playing defense,” Wright said. “A few of my baskets I got from playing defense and getting in the lane or we were running in transition as teammates and Shane or Daylon found me or I found them. We were just playing as a team.”

Speaking of teammates, tonight was a sound team effort by CU. Four players finished in double digits on the evening - Siewart (11), Gattling (12), McKinley (17), and Namon (25). Bey was one point short of making it five, and recording the first double of the new season for CU. He had a game high 14 rebounds while shooting 3-7 from the field.

Although not on full display last season, throughout his collegiate career Wright has always been a prolific sharpshooter. But the aggression in his game on both sides of the floor is what allowed him to have a breakout performance tonight.

“I think his defense got his offense going which I was really proud of,” Boyle said. “One thing we know Namon can do is shoot the ball and we want him to shoot the ball when he’s open and he did that tonight. I told him ‘the better you play the more you play’ and tonight was a testament to that.”

The Buffs were able to effectively put the game away when they went up twenty, 57-37 with 15:40 to go. With 2:16 to go, the Buffs walk-on trio of AJ Martinika, Aidan McQuade, and Benan Ersek were able to see some playing time.

Colorado will stay at home to take on the Nebraska-Omaha Durangos on Friday at 7 p.m. MT. Additionally, they’ll get some rotational depth for the future. Both Deleon Brown (coach’s decision) and D’Shawn Schwartz (rule violation) will be back in action for the contest.