"We beat a really good team tonight," coach Tad Boyle praised Colorado State after the game.
Levi Knutson said after the game Knutson came off the bench with 14 points, including a perfect seven for seven from the line. Alec Burks had a game high 25 points tonight, going 9-10 from the free throw line. Cory Higgins added 15 points although just shooting 2-10 from the field. Marcus Relphorde was able to contribute 18 points and four rebounds.
"It definitely feels like a rivalry game. It was an intense game, they are always going to give us their best shot and we will always give them ours," Knutson said.
With this win, the Buffs move to 5-3 on the season and 5-0 at home.
Colorado came out with a less than stellar start, which seems to be the theme for the Buffs this year. Colorado fell down eight points, 14-6, early in the game thanks to back-to-back to 3-pointers by Andre McFarland and Adam Nigon. The Buffs came out of a timeout with an 8-2 run to cut the lead to two and were back in the game.
After this point, the game was just a constant back and forth between the two sides. After Jesse Carr missed the front end of a one and one, Cory Higgins made a quick outlet to Nate Tomlinson and he hit a 3-pointer as the buzzer went off at the end of the first half. Colorado trailed by just three after the first half, 33-30.
The Rams shot 64% from the field in the first half, but the Buffs forced them into nine turnovers and hit seven more free throws to keep themselves in the game.
The second half was more of the same back and forth with nine ties and thirteen lead changes in the second half.
"It was a grind it game," Burks said.
The teams were never separated by more than six points the entire half. The Buffs got their first lead in over twenty minutes with a Marcus Relphorde jumper 2 minutes into the half. The Rams came back down and Wes Eikmeier hit a three to put the Rams back in front.
The Buffs got into early foul trouble as Relphorde and Dufault had to take a seat on the bench, each with three fouls quickly into the half. The Rams were in the bonus just eight minutes into the half. Colorado settled down and was composed the rest of the half and played solid defense.
Trading baskets the entire half, Colorado was able to string a couple of stops together and all of a sudden had a six point advantage with just over 4 minutes left in the game.
The Rams just wouldn't go away and continued to fight as Andy Ogide hit two layups. Alec Burks hit a free throw and a layup with just 1 minute left in the game to put the Buffs back up a five.
The defense got a little soft at the end of the game and allowed a quick layup by Dorian Green. The Rams then fouled Cory Higgins, the man Tad Boyle wanted at the line at the end of the game.
"I wouldn't change it. I'll take Cory at the line every day," Boyle said.
Cory stepped up to the line and went 1-for-2.
The Rams scored two possessions in a row, each time fouling Cory Higgins afterwards. Higgins went 1-for-2 each of those times, going 3-for-6 with less than a minute left in the game. With the Buffs up 76-74, Carr drove past Higgins, made a layup with .6 seconds left and sent the game into overtime.
In overtime, Burks took over. He hit a pair of free throws and fade away jumper to score the first four points for the Buffs in overtime. He also had a huge defensive rebound and an assist to Relphorde, Ogide was called for goaltending on the basket.
Tad Boyle made offensive and defensive substitutions in the last few minutes of overtime, bringing in Austin Dufault for Burks on the defensive end.Dufault, combined with, Higgins blocked a layup by Ogide with the game tied at 82.
"That defensive stop with the scored tied was huge. I thought Austin Dufault defensively in the second half played really really well down there," Boyle said.
After that block, Knutson hit four straight free throws and Relphorde hit two to put the game away. Relphorde put the icing on the cake with a dunk as time expired after Knutson pulled down a tough rebound.
Boyle was proud of how his team was able to grind it out against a good team at home, but still not satisfied, he is looking for this to transfer success in other games.
"Our grit, our toughness, and our pride now has to transfer from our home court to a neutral site," Boyle said, looking ahead to the Las Vegas classic coming up over winter break after home games against The Citadel and Longwood next weekend.