Buffs rout Braves

Cory Higgins and Alec Burks were out if the starting lineup for the first time in both of their careers, but they came off the bench to lead the Buffs to a 91-51 victory over Alcorn State.

Cory Higgins was sixth in Buffaloes history with 97 consecutive starts going into the game. Alec Burks was benched although being the Buffs leading scorer in each of the first three games of the year.

Burks and Higgins were replaced by Shannon Sharpe and Levi Knutson in the starting lineup. It was the first start for the redshirt freshman Sharpe and the second for Knutson.

Coach Tad Boyle didn't look at it as if he were benching Burks and Higgins as some sort of punishment.

"I look at it like I rewarded guys like Levi Knutson, Nate Tomlinson and Shannon Sharpe," Boyle said.

The Buffaloes came out of the game slow, only leading by one at the first TV timeout. They finally got started when Higgins came in for Sharpe.

The Buffs went on a 12-3 run in the next four minutes, stretching their lead to ten. This run was spurred by consecutive and-one takes to the basket by Marcus Relphorde followed by Burks. It was Burks' first touch after entering the game for Nate Tomlinson.

Burks stayed hot scoring 9 points in his first five minutes on the court. Freshman Andre Roberson had a nice pump fake at the top of the key that led to a monster dunk over Ian Francis. This all happened during the Buffs 10-5 run in the next four minutes that stretched the lead to fifteen.

The Buffaloes continued to pour it on the Braves for the remainder of the first half, as they led 49-27 at the end of the half. The Buffs were able to make this run while getting a solid contribution from everyone on the team.

Burks ended the half with 18 points, Higgins added 8, Relphorde put in 7 and Austin Dufault had 6 points. Tad Boyle went deep into the bench in the first half playing Ben Mills, Javon Coney, Roberson and Trey Eckloff. They combined for 17 minutes of action in the half.

The most impressive team stat for the Buffs in the first half was their advantage on the glass. Colorado out-rebounded Alcorn State 23-14 in the half, many leading to fast break layups on the other end.

Colorado picked up right where it left off in the first half by coming out on a 16-2 run in the first 6:27 of the second half, pushing the lead to 65-29. This run was sparked on the defensive end by creating steals, blocking shots and dominating the boards. The defense continued to be great as the Buffs held the Braves to just 9 points in the first 10:14 of the half.

Solid passing and rebounding allowed the buffs to build their lead to 40 with 2:47 remaining in the game. Both could be seen on a play by Roberson as he grabbed an offensive rebound over two Alcorn State players and dished the ball to a wide open Higgins as he was falling to the ground; Higgins was able to put it home with a dunk.

The Buffaloes big lead came after a Trey Eckloff layup off a Sharpe pass that pushed the lead to 43 with just over a minute left in the game.

This was the first game of the young season that the Buffaloes held a team under 80 points. The best defensive game thus far included shots being contested, which led to the Braves only shooting 28% from the field.

Ending up on the positive side of the rebounds was also huge for the Buffs as they had plus-14 rebounding edge at the end of the game of 50-36. Forcing turnovers was also huge for the Buffs as they forced Alcorn St. into 15 turnovers, 11 of them being steals.

"We didn't win by 40 and do those things. We did those things and won by 40," Tad Boyle said, when referring to those statistics.

The Buffs ability to get easy baskets and teammates creating shots for one another was a key to the game.

"We had 19 assists, which is a season high if I'm not mistaken, on 32 baskets. But I would like to see us around 23 or 24 on 32 baskets," Boyle said.

Higgins and Burks responded to Boyle's decision for them to start the game on the bench, saying they were disappointed in the decision but made the best of it.

Burks scored 22 points and had 6 rebounds despite only playing 19 minutes. Higgins added 15 points and had 6 rebounds as well in 23 minutes.

"It was a step in the right direction," Higgins said of the win.

Austin Dufault had a big game with 10 points and 8 rebounds. He also had a huge block during the 16-2 spurt to start the second half. Andre Roberson led the team in rebounding once again with 9 rebounds.

"I think the way our team responded to the game on Saturday was good," Boyle said. "I was really proud of them."

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