Wilson Leads Buffs in Defeat of ISU

In what may well have been its most complete performance of the season, the University of Colorado men's basketball team rose to a level of play perhaps not previously seen this season in claiming an important 88-70 win over Big 12 rival Iowa State at the Coors Events Conference Center Saturday afternoon.

Blair Wilson dropped a game-high 22 points for CU, as the senior forward shot a perfect 6-for-6 from beyond the three point line to begin the game, while making good on each of the four free throw attempts he saw.

Three other players scored in double figures for the Buffaloes, and postmen David Harrison and Lamar Harris each earned adouble-doubles (16 pts., 10 rebs. for Harrison; 10 pts., 19 rebs. for Harris) in the win; the first time two players have done so this season.

Senior forward Michele Morandais also contributed with 19 points after shooting 8-17 from the floor, while also dishing a team-high six assists.

"The first half was a track meet. We hardly had time to look up and see who was ahead in the first half," CU head coach Ricardo Patton said of his team's second straight conference win. "I think the second half out guys settled in and played solid basketball."

Though most of the first half of Saturday's game was closely contested on the scoreboard, a quick check of CU's offensive statistics reveals that the Buff defense owned Iowa State from the outset.

Colorado completely outperformed the bewildered Cyclones in every offensive category; earning higher shooting marks than ISU in field goal, three-point, and free throw percentage in both halves. CU's defense, which was highly criticized prior to the Buffs' beginning Big 12 play two weeks ago, held a very potent Iowa State to season-lows in every shooting category.

"It felt good and I just kept shooting," Wilson said of his record-setting offensive night. "Guys were finding me and they were leaving me open. So that combination made it fun for me and I know my team needed me to hit those shots."

Neither team wasted any time feeling out the other as the game opened with a furious pace. The two offenses, averaging more than 150 points between them entering the contest, combined to tally 36 in the game's opening six minutes.

Wilson took control of the Colorado offensive effort to begin the contest; draining threes on back-to-back possessions to help the Buffs to an early 16-13 lead less than five minutes in.

Wilson's second tre, a bomb from the right side, which the Broomfield native released from three feet beyond the arc, broke CU's career three-point mark (215) previously held by Stevie Wise (1987-91).

Wilson, it turned out, was just getting warmed up. The 23-year old hit clutch threes throughout the first half, single-handedly bringing the Buffs back from an opening deficit which was at one point as large as seven.

Wilson's final long ball of the period; a fading shot from the top of the key at 7:04 gave the Buffs a lead they would own until the break, and brought the crowd of more than 6,200 to its feet.

The captain's six first half three-pointers (6-7 from the field, all from three-point range) tied a career high (2002-03 vs. Missouri 6-10; 2001-02 vs. Southern; and vs. Nebraska 6-11) and marked the first time the senior had ever drained more than five in a half.

To their credit the Cyclones overcame a bit of adversity to close the opening frame as well.

The Buffaloes held a 38-31 lead with 5:46 remaining before two of Curtis Stenson's three first half buckets brought ISU back to within three. A Jake Sullivan layup on the following Cyclone possession capped off a quick 6-0 Iowa State run and brought the resilient cardinals back to within a single point.

CU was able to break to momentum of the pesky Cyclones, riding a solid 6-4 run fueled by a pair of transition buckets from Harris over the final three minutes to a 44-41 halftime lead.

Lost in the frenzied first half play of Wilson was the equally impressive offensive output by ISU regulars. Two Cyclones posted double figures in the game's opening 20 minutes; 12 from Will Blalock and a first half double-double from senior center Jackson Vroman, who scored 10 points and grabbed 11 boards in 17 minutes of first half floor time.

Colorado doubled up the Iowa State effort to begin the second half, matching every Cyclone point with two of their own for the period's opening five minutes. The 8-4 CU run, culminated with the Buffs owning a 54-47 lead at the 15:05 mark, displayed an offensive prowess following a halftime which wasn't always evident during a shaky nonconference effort.

The dagger in the heart of Iowa State began at the 8:31 mark when CU embarked on an eventually lethal 12-2 run. Led by Morandais, who drained two threes and scored with a transition layup in CU's most dominant span of the game, the Buffs overtook the Cyclones to lead 76-61 with just under 5:30 left.

The Cyclones would not again be within 10 of the Buffs, who claimed their second conference win over an Iowa State team which was previously undefeated in Big 12 action.

Iowa State lead the all-time series between the Big 12 rivals 69-62, but the Buffaloes hold a decided 41-15 edge in games played in Boulder, CU having won seven of the last eight meetings at home.

"We did some good things out there, but the game was so fast it was really hard to keep up," a physically exhausted Patton said in the post-game press conference. "There was a lot of octane out there, but we had our moments when we probably played some of our best basketball."

The Buffaloes now prepare for the first of a pair of two-game conference road trips they will embark on this season; with CU spending the better part of the next week traveling to games against Oklahoma State (Jan. 17) and Kansas (Jan. 25).

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