The Colorado Buffaloes knew this season would be different with a young team and a young point guard leading the way. They didn’t expect to be in a dogfight right from the start, barely escaping with a win over Montana State on Tuesday night.
The pessimistic viewpoint is the struggle against a Big Sky Conference opponent — at home — is a preview to the rest of the season, but the upside is the Buffaloes found a way to rally and win 94-90 in overtime after things looked bleak.
Colorado’s next opponent is tougher. New Mexico comes to Boulder on Saturday afternoon fresh off a 99-92 win over Florida Atlantic on Wednesday night.
Richard Pitino won his debut game with New Mexico after spending eight years coaching Minnesota in the Big Ten. The Lobos fed off their home crowd to get the victory but won’t have that luxury at Colorado on Saturday afternoon.
“We know what this team means to this community, and the more nights we can have like this, we can get back to having fun again,” Pitino said Wednesday. “Basketball-wise, we were really hard to guard in the second half.”
The Buffaloes rallied from 13 down against the Bobcats to force overtime before pulling away. Colorado committed 16 turnovers, and its big men battled foul trouble most of the game, things that coach Tad Boyle hopes to correct before the New Mexico game.
Keeshawn Barthelemy showed he can handle the point guard duties, posting 19 points and five assists, and Nique Clifford contributed 11 points and nine rebounds off the bench, giving Boyle something to build on for the upcoming schedule.
“Now the games start coming,” Boyle said Tuesday night. “The balance between making sure we’re improving and cleaning up what we learned and getting ready for New Mexico is a little bit of a delicate balance.
“There’s a lot of things we have to get better at. Guarding the ball. Post defense. There’s a lot of things that Colorado needs to get better at. And our guys understand that. That’s what the film room is for.”
–Field Level Media