The Colorado Buffaloes men’s basketball team hosted the Sacramento State Hornets Saturday night at the CU Events Center. Colorado extended its winning streak to six games following a 75-58 victory over the Hornets.
Junior forward Tyler Bey starred in the MGM Main Event Tournament in Las Vegas on Nov. 24 and 26. The Las Vegas native recorded back-to-back double doubles in a pair of victories over Wyoming and Clemson. The Buffs were forced to come from behind against Clemson, but eventually pulled off the win in the closest margin of victory this season (71-67).
Collectively, Colorado didn’t play its best basketball on the offensive end, shooting relatively low percentages as a team in both contests at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. Defense won the game for the Buffs against Clemson in the final minute, with junior guard McKinley Wright IV stripping the ball from a Tiger guard and earning a trip to the charity stripe.
Head coach Tad Boyle prioritized defense against Sacramento State, starting sophomore guard Eli Parquet instead of sophomore guard Daylen Kountz at shooting guard Saturday night. Parquet, a native of Beaumont, Texas, is known for his defensive intensity and recently his three-point shooting ability.
Boyle talked about the decision to go with Parquet over Daylen after the game. Parquet’s defense being the primary reason for the switch.
“Elijah Parquet is probably our best perimeter defender other than McKinley (Wright IV) and you could maybe make an argument for D’Shawn (Schwartz),” Boyle said. “So, we know that Eli is going to give us that (perimeter defense). “It also allows McKinley maybe, not to take a break, but McKinley is always drawing the team’s best perimeter defender, usually in the back court. So, it allows us to put Eli on that guy from the get go and hopefully get McKinley going offensively.”
Colorado forced a shot clock violation on the Hornets first possession. However, three turnovers on the Buffs’ first three possessions led to somewhat of a slow start offensively for Boyle’s squad. Wright IV scored the Buffs’ first six points with a pair of contested layups and a jump shot. Colorado led 6-2 at the under 16 timeout.
The Buffs finished the contest with 19 turnovers and only ten assists. Sloppy play on the offensive end had Boyle upset postgame because the talent is there, it’s just a matter of execution and running quality offense.
“I need to apologize to any Buff fan that came out and watched this tonight because it was it epitome of winning ugly,” Boyle said. “We weren’t very good offensively. We all expect more of this team on the offensive end than what we got tonight. That’s the fourth game in a row, offensively (where) we have not been the team that we are in practice. The way we played tonight, I can’t give them a break for that. It’s amazing the feeling we had in the locker room, it’s almost like we felt like we lost because we all know we can be better.”
Junior forward D’Shawn Schwartz broke a scoreless drought for both teams with a difficult drive and finish at the 9:31 mark of the first half. The Buffs led 10-8. Sophomore forward Evan Battey energized the crowd with a tough and one finish with just over four minutes left in the first half. A Hornets’ dry spell the last 6:13 gave Colorado an eight-point cushion at the break.
Parquet knocked down a mid range jump shot to open the scoring for the Buffs in the second half. A Hornets’ turnover resulted in a run out and a layup for Schwartz. Colorado led by 12 early in the second half. A majority of the Buffs’ offense came out of transition. Boyle said right now opponents know that Colorado struggles in half-court offense and eventually will get beat if they don’t improve.
“They (Sacramento State) don’t press you full court,” Boyle said. “It’s all half court stuff. And look the MO to beat Colorado is to take them out of transition. Sacramento State on film was a team that we were concerned with their offensive rebounding so were talking about boxing out. Well, much like Clemson, much like Wyoming, they didn’t offensive rebound. They sprint back and take us out of transition. That’s the MO, make Colorado play in the half court and they have trouble scoring. Right now, that’s the case and everybody knows it.”
The Buffs offense found its rhythm for a couple possessions to begin the second half. Colorado played inside out, finding Bey on the inside and kicking to open shooters. Senior forward Lucas Siewert was a beneficiary of the Buffs’ ball movement and splashed home a corner three for his first points of the contest. The Brazil native scored his second bucket of the game with a layup from underneath the basket.
Sacramento State remained in striking distance despite Colorado’s uptick in offense. At the under 12 timeout, the Buffs’ held a seven-point advantage. Colorado, once again was unable to put a full game of quality basketball together. Wright IV said after the game, “We sucked….”
“We got to do a better job of putting two halves together,” Wright IV said. “We sucked in the first half. We sucked the whole game. 19 turnovers (that’s) terrible. We got a win, but we got to be better for teams coming down the stretch.”
Turnovers plagued the Buffs’ offense late in the period. Consequently, the Hornets trailed only by single digits a majority of the final half. The Hornets cut the lead to five with over three and half minutes left, but Colorado hit three field goals in a row to end the game and pulled away. The Buffs won 59-45.
Colorado (6-0) hosts Loyola-Marymount (2-4) on Wednesday night. The tipoff is set for 8:00 p.m. MST.