The Buffs used their hot shooting after the halftime break to open up a 19-point lead with eight minutes left in the game. Remarkably, Gardner-Webb climbed back into it with a barrage of 3-pointers. Zoran Jelenic's trey with just less than four minutes to play put the score at 86-75 Colorado.
Then the Bulldogs made things interesting down the stretch, cutting the Buffs' lead to just six points on three consecutive possessions as the clock wound down under two minutes.
CU answered by shooting 5 of 6 from the foul line in the final 45 seconds, and held on for the victory.
The Buffs got big help off the bench from some players who hadn't contributed much in the recent home stand. Andy Osborn had his best game in a CU uniform, scoring 15 points and grabbing a team-high nine boards in 18 minutes of play. He also shot 50 percent from 3-point range (3 of 6).
Simon Conn (26 points) and Brian Bender (22) led Gardner Webb in scoring.
Things started tight in the first half. Though CU had the height advantage over Gardner-Webb, the Bulldogs took advantage of a mismatch in the paint early as 6-7 Mike Jones worked for four of G-W's first points against CU's 6-11 center Lamont Arrington. The junior drew the start — his second of the young season — but was yanked after Jones had schooled him twice.
From that point, both teams traded leads 12 times throughout the first half. But late in the period Hall got hot, hitting two consecutive treys — one a high-arcing rainbow as the shot clock ran out – to ignite a CU run. When Copeland drained a 3-pointer moments later, it gave the Buffs a 48-38 lead, which they took into the locker room.
CU is now 7-2, with two tough non-conference road games on the horizon — Thursday at Utah and Jan. 4 at Richmond — before opening Big 12 play at Oklahoma, also on the road. Gardner-Webb fell to 3-4 on the season.
Points: Hall 22, Copeland 17, Osborn 15
Rebounds: Osborn 9
Assists: Obazuaye, Hall 3
Steals: Arrington, Obazuaye 2
Blocks: Copeland 3
Turnovers: Copeland 4
Points: Conn 26, Bender 22
Rebounds: Conn, Bender 7
Assists: Manning 5
Steals: McCullough 2
Blocks: Bender 1
Turnovers: Jones 4
A good home stand again, in terms of the outcome. I saw some good, and some bad and some ugly. We'll keep working and go on this three-game road stretch and see what happens.
Q: How encouraged were you to get production from guys like Glean Eddy and Andy Osborn that haven't had a chance to play much this year?
It was certainly good to get some production out of some other guys coming off the bench. We had one of those nights where we were shooting the ball well. Thank goodness we were making shots. They were making shots. I don't know if anybody was guarding anybody out there.
Chris Copeland played 28 minutes and had two rebounds. That's not going to get it in the Big 12.
Q: Is this a game that can jumpstart Osborn? He only had nine points on the season coming in.
Sure, it certainly has that possibility. You just never know. Each game is so different. Next game he's going to face an entirely different type of defender; guys that will be more his size.
Q: Going into these next three road games – Utah, Richmond and Oklahoma – what are some of the things you've got to work on?
Well, just everything. We've got to work on both sides of the ball. Our communication on defense was very poor tonight. Late in the game a guy got a wide-open lay-up because guys weren't talking and pointing and covering down.
Poor communication on defense and rebounding the basketball. This team tonight was smaller than us, and yet they matched us rebound for rebound. (31 a piece). If you allow a much smaller team to outrebound you, then you're probably going to struggle against bigger and better teams.
But I knew it would be a game against them because they shoot so many threes. The fewest amount of threes they've shot all season is 17 and they're averaging making nine. They made 11 tonight.
Q: Is Andy Osborn a potential x-factor this year?
Certainly we need him to step up and play well. The injury set him back, but now he's starting to get into the rotation a little bit and get in game shape.
Q: You were up 19 at some point in the second half. Is it discouraging you didn't bury the team at that point?
We could say that it's discouraging, but the truth of the matter is I don't think we're good enough to bury teams. We have too many things that we have to continue to get better at to get to that point.
It was a good win against a very good shooting team. There are still some things we need to improve upon. We need to do some things defensively. They got a lot of good looks, that's why they were able to knock down a lot of shots. But it was a good win against a good team.
On another good offensive outing (17 points)
I'd say that's my teammates. They're getting me open. Marcus driving and being such a threat — that attracts a lot of attention and gets everybody else open.
On his hot shooting (5 for 5 from 3-point range)
In the first half, the first couple shots I hit. As a shooter, if you hit those first couple shots, you're going to try to get a couple more up, and fortunately they fell.
I worked on my shooting a lot during the offseason. But I think it's more of a matter of getting more playing time. With other shooters around me, it's hard for defenders to guard me.
Q: Did you sense coming into this game that you might have a breakout game?
I don't really know. I came into the game the same way I have all season. But my preparation the last couple weeks has been getting a lot better. My shooting after practice has really increased my confidence. So I'd say my confidence was a little better going into this game.
I've shown I can do this. Now I have to come out every night and try to do it.
On the difference in competition from Loyola-Marymount (where Osborn played his first two seasons) and CU
It's raised a ton. We don't play any really weak teams on our schedule. Every time we play a game, the team is shooting for us because we're a Big 12 team. That's something that I've seen now firsthand. It's definitely a step up from where I was before.