BOULDER, Colo. (AP) Colorado coach Tad Boyle believes his team is breaking new ground. And he couldn’t be more disgusted by it.
Josh Fortune shook off a miserable offensive slump with a season-high 15 points, and the Buffaloes withstood a 29-point second half from Rob Davis in an 81-71 win over Division II Fort Hays State on Saturday afternoon.
Fortune, who was 0 for 13 from the field in his previous two games, went 5 for 9 from the field.
Deleon Brown added a career-high 15 points and Xavier Johnson also had 15 for the Buffaloes, who shot 43 percent from the field, including 46 percent in the first half.
It felt anything but victorious. Colorado’s seventh-year coach began his postgame press conference with an apology to the fans who braved frigid temperatures to show up on Saturday.
”This team has two things going for it right now,” Boyle said. ”Number one, they own the most-disappointing loss in that seven-year span, the Colorado State game a few weeks ago. And now they also can add to that, that they own the most-disappointing win.”
After the Buffs held Davis scoreless at the break, the senior went off in the second half. Averaging 24 points per game, Davis was a season-best 7 for 10 from 3-point range.
Davis’ sharpshooting allowed the Tigers to mount a rally, using a 17-4 run to climb within 47-39 on a layup by Hadley Gillum with 14:46 remaining. Davis had 11 points during the burst going 0 for 4 from the field in the first half.
”There’s no feeling,” Davis said of his stroke. ”I’m just numb. No conscious, just keep shooting.”
Davis then swished a jumper for his 29th point of the half to cut the deficit to 76-67 with 2:55 remaining. It was the most points in half by any player at the Coors Events Center, according to Colorado.
The Buffs got a few timely free throws and rebounds down the stretch to improve to 8-3.
”I didn’t’ want that first half to be what people in Colorado have their thoughts about him,” Fort Hays State coach Mark Johnson said. ”He was the best player on the floor.”
A meeting against a Division II opponent won’t count against the Buffaloes’ RPI as they improved to 6-1 at home. The loss also won’t do damage to the Tigers, who played the game as an exhibition.
The Buffs led by as many as 21.
”This was a bad win, if you will,” Colorado junior George King said before taking a pause. ”I mean, I wouldn’t say a bad win, I don’t know how to put it.
”It was an eye opener for us, for sure.”
Fort Hays State: In the first half, the Tigers played exactly like you might expect from a D II school going against a Power Five Conference team. They started 1 for 15 from the field but rallied to finish 26 of 65. . Davis didn’t score his first points until he swished a 3-pointer with 17:25 remaining.
Colorado: After another up-and-down performance, the Buffaloes are working to find consistency through 11 games. They beat Texas and Xavier to nab consecutive wins over ranked teams for the first time since 2013, but have also lost to in-state rival Colorado State and BYU.
LACK OF EFFORT?
Against a severely undersized opponent, Colorado had only a slight rebounding edge, 40-36.
”It’s just a willingness to compete and who wants it more,” King said. ”I don’t know, man.”
Fortune hit a 3 with 6:52 in the first half to end the nasty slump, then stole a pass and turned it into a dunk 52 seconds later.
”It was just a matter of seeing the ball go down,” Fortune said, ”getting that confidence from seeing it go down.”
”We have to dictate defensively,” Boyle said. ”If we can’t dictate against Fort Hays I don’t know how the hell we’re going to dictate against Utah, or Arizona State, or Arizona, or anybody in the Pac-12.”
Fort Hays State: After a two-week break, the Tigers will host Kansas Christian on Dec. 31.
Colorado: The Buffs are at Air Force Monday before they finish nonconference play against Eastern Washington Thursday.