Colorado 117, Mercer 74

Colorado head coach Ricardo Patton emptied his bench early as the Buffs cruised to a 117-74 victory over Mercer at home Thursday night. All 17 CU players saw court time, and three Buffs scored in double figures, including freshman walk-on guard Kyle Carder, who had 13 points.

THE RECAP
Depending on your perspective, this one got ugly/fun in a hurry — like by the time CU went up 13-2 about three-and-a-half minutes into the game. Not long afterward, CU coach Ricardo Patton began substituting liberally. At the 9:06 mark in the first half, Patton inserted freshman walk-on guard Kyle Carder. Turns out the kid can shoot a little. He ended the night with 13 points on 5-of-6 shooting, including 2 of 3 from 3-point range.

Some 2,010 fans watched the Colorado bench outscore the CU starters 67-50, as the starters rested a majority of the game. However starter Jayson Obazuaye led all scorers with 19.

CU had 29 assists and 14 steals against the Bears, who fell to 2-5 on the season.

How outmatched was Mercer of the Atlantic Sun Conference? With 2:36 to go in the first half, Colorado was playing with four walk-ons — Carder, Scott Senger, Chase Perkowski and Billy Boidock — and Julius Ashby (who was playing in his first game of the season). That lineup outscored Mercer 8-5 down the stretch of that first frame.

Ashby and the walk-ons got plenty of playing time in the second half as well. Ashby's put-back at the 9:25 mark put CU at the century mark, giving the Buffs a 100-50 lead.

CU held Mercer's leading scorer Jacob Skogen (21 ppg) scoreless in his 19 minutes. But Mercer was especially soft on defense. They seemed to employ a strategy that included not guarding the 3-point shot, while allowing the dribble-drive to the hole. Obviously, Colorado took great advantage of it. CU blistered the nets with a 62.7 field goal percentage, and was 12 of 19 from beyond the arc.

The margin of victory (43) tied a Coors Events Center record, set in 1980 and matched in 1993.

The Buffs have now won seven consecutive games and are 8-1. It's the first time a CU team has been 8-1 since the 1979-80 season.

The players will have the next four days off before regrouping to prepare for their Dec. 31 date with Dartmouth.

THE HYPE
• Julius Ashby was sent into the game at 6:27 mark, his first action this season after becoming eligible Wednesday (academics). While Ashby promptly pulled down a rebound, he looked gassed before too long, and a bit out of synch against an inferior opponent. As could've been expected, it'll take him a while to find his legs and rhythm. He ended the night with six points and five rebounds in 11 minutes of play

• Colorado showed its maturity in the win. In years past, when Colorado found itself ahead by a large margin in the second half, things typically devolved into a sloppy imitation of street ball. Not Thursday. Despite letting up on the defensive end, CU stayed with its offense for the entire game.

THE QUOTES
Ricardo Patton
In general

I thought it was a good game. I thought we played well. It may have been the best we played all year.

We made shots; we had guys sharing the basketball. When you look at 29 assists, it's evident that we were sharing the basketball.

We need these types of performances against other teams, as well. We came out with the mindset. We didn't take the game for granted. So we were able to pull away and win the game.

Q: Is that a sign of your team's maturity that you had the right mindset against an opponent like this?
RP:
Yeah, we were concerned as coaches whether or not the guys would look past them. Not for any other reason other than going home for Christmas mentally before getting there physically. All the guys are leaving tomorrow; I head out recruiting tomorrow.

But I was happy to see that the guys came out ready to play this basketball game.

Q: When most coaches say they're going to empty their bench, they're talking about one or two guys. You emptied your whole bench in the first half; 17 guys.
RP:
I'll tell you what, I just think every kid in your program deserves an opportunity like this at some point. They don't come often. But when you do have the opportunity to play every one of your kids that works hard every day, as a coach you owe them that.

Q: Who impressed you coming off the bench of the younger guys?
RP:
Kyle Carder is an intriguing young man. I think at some point before he's done, he's going to be a real player for us. Because he has a talent – he can shoot the basketball. As he gets accustomed to the physical play, he's got to live in the weightroom and get stronger. But there's a lot to be said for a guy that can shoot the basketball. And he shoots it that way every day in practice. So it wasn't anything knew to us.

Q: Have you ever coached a game where you played four walk-ons at the same time in the first half?
RP:
I don't think we have. But I don't think it was necessarily because of our opponent. It was more because of how our starters and subs (were playing). Those guys allowed us to do that.

Q: How did Julius look?
RP:
Out of shape. He was huffing and puffing. But we tried to leave him out there. There were times probably in another game I would not have left him out there with some of his rebound mistakes and missed rebound opportunities. But this was a game that he needed. A game where there wasn't a whole lot of pressure for him to have to be at his best. A game to get him in shape.

THE NUMBERS
Colorado

Points: Jayson Obazuaye 19
Rebounds: Chris Copeland 7
Assists: Antoine McGee 6
Turnovers: three tied with 2
Blocks: Andy Osborn, Scott Senger 3
Steals: Senger, Dominique Coleman 3

Mercer
Points: Andrew Brown 14
Rebounds: Brian Pfohl 6
Assists: three tied with 2
Turnovers: Montavious Waters 6
Blocks: three tied with 1
Steals: Waters 2

THE NOTES
Senior Glean Eddy tied the CU record for consecutive games played without fouling out at 100. He's tied with current CU director of operations Will Smith. …Former CU athletic director Dick Tharp was at the game as a spectator. …CU's 65 points in the first half was the most points scored by a Colorado team in the first 20 minutes at least since the 1982-83 season, according to CU assistant SID Andrew Green.


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