MANHATTAN, Kan. – Colorado basketball coach Tad Boyle earlier this week expressed hope that his squad could make it to the season opener without tackling the COVID-19 hurdles that sank the opening week of college basketball.
The Buffalo didn’t quite make it. But that didn’t stop CU from taking a massive opening night victory of 84-61 against South Dakota on the first day of the Little Apple Classic in Kansas State.
CU played without senior wing D’Shawn Schwartz, who was not in the arena on Wednesday morning after a COVID-related issue. Schwartz suffered a “possible exposure” according to head coach Tad Boyle and was sent back to Boulder. Immediately after the game, Boyle Schwartz did not rule out Saturday’s game against Kansas State.
“We just want to be very, very safe with him and not endanger anyone else,” Boyle said. Hopefully he’ll be back in uniform on Friday. We will see. We will know more (Thursday) and Friday about that situation. ”
While the status of one of CU’s senior leaders remains uncertain, the Buffs retreated on a ragged shooting night from both sides, typical of a season opener, though CU rediscovered his shooting as the game progressed.
With Schwartz out, senior point guard McKinley Wright IV put the attack on his shoulders, missing his first shot of the season before downing six in a row as the Buffs steadily built a 45-31 lead at half time. Wright went 8-for-12 off the field and 3-for-3 off the free-throw line, finishing with 20 points and six assists with only two turnovers.
Among the individual highlights, freshman Jabari Walker enjoyed a strong Buffs debut, shooting down his first field goal in his career on a 3-pointer and hitting 5-for-5 on free throws before finishing with 10 points and six rebounds. Tulsa graduate transfer Jeriah Horne downed three consecutive 3-pointers in the second half after a slow start. And 7-footer Dallas Walton was a lot more like the player Buffs fans fell in love with three seasons ago than the one who struggled after ACL surgery last year. Walton was 4-for-6 with eight points and also grabbed seven rebounds, just one shy to match his career high.
After a slow start from a 3-point range, Horne helped the Buffs finish with a 10-for-25-point (.400) on 3-pointers. CU also went 14-for-15 on the free-throw line.
Despite the defeat, Boyle will have plenty to discuss with the Buffs on Thanksgiving before taking on Kansas State on Friday night. CU had a decisive format advantage against South Dakota, but only defeated the Coyotes 45-42. The Buffs also committed too many fouls, earning 10 in the first half and five in the first five minutes of the second, which led to 24 free-throws for South Dakota.
“We actually had two simple messages,” Wright said. One of them was ‘Play for five’, that’s D’Shawn. We don’t know if it’s really positive or not so we’re waiting to find out. The other was, ‘Don’t take it for granted’ because we don’t know when the season will end. We don’t know how many games we will actually get. We just have to play every game like it’s our last. Especially for our seniors, and this is our last year. Don’t take anything for granted. ”
Colorado 84, South Dakota 61
SOUTH DAKOTA (0-1)
Heiman 0-2 0-2 0, Chisom 5-10 1-2 12, Perrott-Hunt 2-7 1-1 5, Plitzuweit 3-11 3-4 9, Umude 7-22 9-11 24, Fuller 0- 1 2-2 2, Koster 0-1 0-0 0, Zizic 2-2 2-2 6, Archambault 1-3 0-0 3, Kamateros 0-1 0-0 0, Anderson 0-0 0-0 0 , Dial 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 20-60 18-24 61.
Battey 3-8 1-2 7, Walton 4-6 0-0 8, Parquet 3-5 0-0 8, Wright 8-12 3-3 20, Daniels 3-7 1-1 9, Horne 4-14 0 -0 11, Barthelemy 3-8 4-4 11, Walker 2-8 5-5 10, da Silva 0-2 0-0 0, Clifford 0-2 0-0 0, O’Brien 0-1 0-0 0, Strating 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 30-73 14-15 84.
Peace Colorado 45-31. 3 point goals – South Dakota 3-20 (Archambault 1-2, Chisom 1-2, Umude 1-7, Perrott-Hunt 0-4, Plitzuweit 0-5), Colorado 10-25 (Horne 3-5, Daniels 2-4, Parquet 2-4, Wright 1-2, Walker 1-3, Barthelemy 1-4, Battey 0-1, O’Brien 0-1, da Silva 0-1). Contaminated Walton. Bounces back – South Dakota 42 (Chisom 9), Colorado 45 (Walton, Barthelemy 7). Helps – South Dakota 9 (Chisom, Plitzuweit 3), Colorado 20 (Wright 6). Total number of errors – South Dakota 16, Colorado 22.