Buffs Cruise to Second Straight Win

Whether a two-game homestand against teams playing division-II level basketball after losing three straight was what the University of Colorado men's basketball team needed or not, the Buffaloes didn't have much choice but to go through the motions against Savannah State on Thursday. Then do it again in their 78-48 win over Northern Colorado at the Coors Events Conference Center Saturday night. Here is the full game recap.

Having lost a pair of very winnable home games to Utah (Dec. 23) and Richmond (Dec. 31) prior to dropping a demoralizing 77-62 decision to Big 12 rival Kansas in front of a national television audience on Jan. 8, the Buffaloes are, at best, unsure of their capabilities heading into the bulk of their league play after trouncing their last two opponents by a combined 62 points.

"It really feels good to win, it's a great feeling," said CU center David Harrison in a press conference after his team's second straight win. "Last year we had this saying, ‘fight for the feeling', and I really think we took that to heart over these last three games."

All 13 of Colorado's active players saw at least four minutes of action Saturday night, with three of CU's starting five scoring in double figures.

Harrison led the Colorado charge, contributing with 18 points after shooting 8-10 from the field.

The starting backcourt of Jason Obazuaye and Michele Morandais contributed with 24 points, 12 each, and a combined 11-21 from the field.

6-foot-7 freshman forward Scott Senger came off the bench to score 12 in his team's second victory in three days.

"I'm not going to fault our composure," UNC head coach Craig Rasmuson said after the game. "I think we did go ahead and turn the ball over early in possessions that led to a lot of transition baskets which turned out to be easy baskets for them. We don't have that kind of size, and it's hard to simulate a team like Colorado."

The Buffaloes opened the game with a 21-12 run indicative of their physical advantage over the Bears, with the Colorado attack centering early and often around Harrison, who scored eight early points for Colorado as the Buffs claimed a nine-point lead near the 12:00 mark.

The Bears did their best to keep the game's deficit at arms reach as CU head coach Ricardo Patton brought in bench players to gain experience against undermanned UNC. Northern Colorado senior forward Bryson Gholston converted on a pair of free throws to make the margin 27-16 with 7:46 to go.

Colorado began to pull away as the first half wound to a close, as Morandais finished off a UNC turnover with a layup on the other end, and forward Blair Wilson contributed with a three-pointer two possessions later; expanding the Buffalo lead to 16.

The Buffs closed the first half with a 9-3 run; a fitting conclusion to a twenty minutes of basketball which belonged to Colorado. Freshman point guard Marcus Hall followed up a late three from Wilson with a transition layup with 15 seconds remaining, bringing Colorado's lead at half to 37-20.

Northern Colorado came out of the second half locker room shooting as cold as it had all game, as the Bears were able to find the bottom of the net just twice in the period's opening six minutes.

Meanwhile, Colorado used the Bear cold streak to its advantage; posting a 13-4 run which culminated with CU having doubled up their guests 50-25 with 14:38 to go in the game.

The visitors would not pose any kind of threat to the Buffaloes' winning their second straight game from midway through the second half on, as CU was able to hold their margin over the bewildered Bears to at least 20 in the final 10 minutes.

"I think the biggest thing that we can measure at this point is just our patience," Patton said. "I don't think that because we lost the Kansas game that our season is over. I think basketball's a long season and you kind of have to wait until the end."

UNC actually holds a slim advantage in the all-time series between the Buffs and the Bears; 18-17 dating back to 1918 (nearly all of the games played when the teams shared participation in the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference). CU has now won five straight over Northern Colorado, and are 10-8 in games played in Boulder.

Colorado will have three full days to prepare itself for the remainder of its Big 12 conference schedule, which begins Wednesday night at Nebraska (6:05pm).

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