CU encountered little resistance on either side of the ball from a Tennessee State team which finished up the heart of its non-conference schedule in the loss to the Buffaloes Friday after falling to a red-hot shooting Wyoming team in Larime two nights before.
Freshman point guard Bruce Price owned Tennessee State's scoring night, posting a game-high 29 on a 9-16 effort from the floor. The flurry was more points than the rest of his teammates were able to score combined. Shooting guard Garrett Richardson was next highest on the Tennessee State point list with four.
"You're not going to be sharp every night out of the box. If we can win by that margin and not be at our best, you've got to be pretty satisfied," CU head coach Ricardo Patton said after the game. "It was a good opportunity for us to play against a zone."
Colorado opened the first half with a bang, as Morandais and Wilson combined to hit a trio of three pointers within the half's opening four minutes; jumping on the Tigers for an 11-2 lead.
TSU fought back over its next three possessions, using a brief 5-0 run helped by one of two threes on the half by Price to pull within four as the 16:00 mark approached.
The run would prove the last sign of life Tennessee State would show in the half, as CU forced the Tigers into a shooting abyss which allowed them just four points over the next 12 minutes.
The absence of first half offense would eventually prove fatal for Tennessee State, which hasn't beaten an NCAA Division-I opponent all season.
Meanwhile, a patient Colorado team used the time to slowly pull away in the contest. After the 16:00 mark, the Buffs put 16 of the game's next 20 points on the board during a stretch which lasted nearly two-thirds of the opening frame and saw six different Buff shooters post points; including Wilson, who scored five of his first half-high 11 during the stretch.
Colorado went into halftime leading 36-18; its biggest advantage midway through a game this season, after shooting 43.3% from the field and an adequate 6-16 from beyond the arc.
Tennessee State began the second half with an 11-4 run, helped by another nine quick points from Price off the bench to bring the TSU deficit to a slightly more manageable 40-29 with just more than 5:00 gone in the second half.
The Colorado offense countered just as quickly with a 10-3 run of its own. Morandais hit a pair of long field goals and was credited for a tip-in, allowing Colorado to regain momentary dominance in the contest and inflate its lead to 50-32 with 11:42 to go.
The Tigers would have the pendulum swing their way once more before CU could claim victory, as the flashy Price continued to own the CU defensive backcourt. The 6-2 Minneapolis native draining back-to-back threes and bringing the Tigers to within 10 with 8:37 left.
In the end it was Harrison who eventually brought any reservations TSU had left in a come-from-behind upset to a screeching halt. The junior center shot uncharacteristically well from the charity stripe as Colorado reached bonus; missing only one of the six shots he had from the line in the game's final five minutes.
"We haven't practiced in our gym over these last three practices, and coming back in our shooting was definitely off," Harrison said of his team's uncharacteristic shooting woes, despite shooting 5-6 from the field himself. "It was definitely a matter of getting the rust off tonight."
However weak, Tennessee State's 2-3 zone did present a unique problem for the up-tempo Buffs. Unable to feed the ball to Harrison in the post, it was left up to Colorado's guard play to establish momentum and separation in the game.
"They played that zone the entire game, and coach was trying to get everyone in, so it was sometimes hard to find a rhythm," said the seven-foot center.
With three blocked shots tonight, Harrison is now just three swats away from Ted Allen's (1991-95) school mark of 161.
Colorado has another relatively lengthy stretch of downtime before returning to the Coors Events Conference Center floor to host Utah out of the Mountain West Conference Tuesday Dec. 23 (Fox Sports Net; 6:00 p.m.).
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