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Buffs overcome 17-point first half deficit to stun Lobos in thriller

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On a night when the team’s performance was less than stellar, Colorado found a way to mount a comeback.

As much as it seemed like everything was going the Buffs way during the past five games, tonight it felt like they were snakebite. CU couldn’t buy a break in a game where they were fighting from behind most of the way.

But in stark contrast to MacIntyre’s football squad less than a month ago, their never-say-never attitude and toughness made it feel like this team had a comeback in them. Tad Boyle’s Buffaloes persevered through the storm, overcame adversity, and found a way to win a game in which they trailed by as much as 17. Just as good teams do, CU stuck around all night and ultimately stole a win in Albuequerque to earn their sixth straight victory.

The turnover bug bit Colorado early as they had five turnovers in the first eight and half minutes, allowing UNM to jump out to a 21-12 lead. New Mexico’s strategy for success in the first part of the opening half resembled the Buffs last few games as seven Lobos were represented in the scoring column.

New Mexico went on a 15-3 run out of a Tad Boyle timeout to extend the margin to thirteen. Poor free throw shooting killed CU during this stretch as the typically reliable McKinley Wright went 0-for-3 from the stripe on back-to-back possessions.

But all of a sudden the Lobos went cold shooting 0-for-4 from the field and 0-for-3 from the line, allowing the Buffs to go on a 14-0 run and jump within a score. Evan Battey showed off grit during the stretch with a nice put back basket off an offense rebound to get the team going.

Just as it seemed like CU had made a game of it, everything seemingly came crashing down on a 11-5 Lobos run in the final 2:56 of the half. A ill advised pass in the backcourt by Namon Wright led to an wide open three pointer from Anthony Mathis. Sequentially, the turnover came right after a made three by Mathis. Things went from bad-to-worse as Deleon Brown had a five second violation on an inbound pass after being fouled.

However Brown redeemed himself a minute later with a three ball from way downtown to beat the buzzer and trim the deceit to 43-34 at the half. Colorado finished the period with ten turnovers while shooting a lackluster 37.5 percent (12-for-32) from the field.

The bad omens returned after halftime as big man Lucas Siewert - who was the team’s second leading scorer with 6 points at the time, was forced to take a seat after committing his third foul just 1:10 into the half.

About a quarter of the way through the period, CU’s offense finally came alive. Colorado went on a remarkable 28-12 run capped off by a McKinley Wright layup with 4:36 left to get their first lead since the sixteen minute mark of the first half.

From that point on, CU didn’t look back making the margin stick and leading by as much as five at one point. A Mathis’s seventh three of the night cut the lead to one with seconds left, but Siewert came up clutch with two free throw’s to extend the lead back to three. A desperation heave from beyond the arc by Vance Jackson came up well short, and finishing off the improbably victory.

The victory was the biggest comeback on the road in program history since the university’s athletic department started recording stats in 1948. With the win, Colorado is now 8-1 on the year and in first place in the Pac-12 South.

Tyler Bey had yet another strong performance recording his third double-double of the young season and second in a row. He finished the night with 14 points and 10 rebounds. Lucas Siewert (14 points-7 rebounds) and McKinley Wright (12 points-8 rebounds) also had good nights.

The Buffs will have a unusually long week-and-a half break to soak in the feel-good victory before making the long trip to sunny Honolulu, Hawaii, to take part in the Honolulu Classic the next three games. Their first matchup is against the Indiana State Sycamores on Saturday, December 22nd at 1 p.m. MT.