Boulder, CO — Unlike in years past, this season’s Buffs basketball team has placed an emphasis on unselfish play and spreading the stat sheet wealth around.
While the usual dose of McKinley Wright and Lucas Siewart has been an equation for success, the team’s ability to get everyone involved has allowed them to consistently light up the scoreboard early on, while taking pressure of some of the other guys. This was on full display in their 82-58 win over the South Dakota Coyotes.
Colorado got off to a shaky start turning the ball over four times in the first 4:06. Fortunately for CU the basket was the size of a golf hole for South Dakota as they shot 0-for-4 from the field during that span, allowing the Buffs to get out to a early 5-1 lead. The Coyotes struggled to get shots to fall all night long, shooting an abysmal 33.9 percent from the field on the evening.
“We shot 4-for-23 from three, when you go on the road and play a good team you have to knock down shots,” head coach Todd Lee said. “When you go on the road and play a good team you have to knock down shots. We had open looks, just didn’t make them tonight.”
After a rough first minute and change the Buffs regrouped, put their foot on the gas, and never looked back. From the 18:19 mark in the first half onward CU never trailed.
After a disappointing game against Portland, D’Shawn Schwartz’s redeemed himself as the unlikely hero to get the team going early on. He led the way with 8 points on 3-for-3 shooting in the first half.
“I’d attribute [my early success] to coach English,” Schwartz said. “He gave me some texts of what I need to do, and it was kind of along the lines of ‘get some shots up and shoot the ball, and the rest will take care of itself. I’m just trying to make sure I’m aggressive, keep watching film, picking my spots, I think that’s something I’ve got to focus on. Studying the game a little bit more which will make things a little bit easier.”
Evan Battey had 6 points to go along with four timely assists in the opening frame, while Gatling, Bey, and Wright had 5 points a piece.
South Dakota’s shooting woes allowed the Buffs to get out to a comfortable 41-28 lead by the break as the Coyotes went the final 4:32 of the half without a bucket.
The narrative was much of the same in the second half as Colorado went on a 15-2 run out of the break to blow the game wide open. This time around it was Bey’s turn to play unlikely hero as he had eight points during this stretch.
Their was a rough point in the period where both teams went nearly three minutes without a score, drawing yawns from yet another disappointing crowd at the CU events center. However, by this point it didn’t mean much. By the five minute mark, Colorado had a comfortable enough lead to let their backups finish the game.
Siewart had a quiet night from the floor with just 4 points, but it didn’t matter as his teammates bailed him out (like good teams do). He also made an impact moving the ball around with six assists.
Once again, the Buffs finished the game multiple players in double digits. Battey and Schwartz finished tied for a team high 14 points, and Bey had 13. The trio accounted for half (41-of-82) of the teams points.
“It can be different guys on every night,” Boyle said. “If our guys can buy into that notion - certain guys on certain night are going to be feeling it, we’ve got to go to them and we always want to play inside out, that’s the big thing. Keep finding each other.”
It was a encouraging, confidence boosting performance - the kind of one that could jumpstart his success - for Battey who’s faced challenge-after-challenge since starting his collegiate career.
“I feel like I’m back,” Battey said with a smile. “Just being out there with my teammates kind of helps me get the feeling of me being back. I don’t want to sound to full of myself but [I think that I’m just scratching the surface.”
CU will look to extend their win streak to four in a row when they take on the University of Illinois-Chicago Flames at 4 p.m. MT on Saturday.