Afterward, Colorado coach Tad Boyle said it's never fun to compete against a friend.
Chances are that friend, University of Denver coach Rodney Billups, enjoyed it even less.
It was a rude homecoming for Billups as well as former Colorado coach Ricardo Patton on Tuesday, as Boyle's Buffaloes used strong defense and a dominant run in the second half to pull away for an 89-62 victory at the Coors Events Center.
With Billups' brother, CU legend Chauncey Billups, sitting courtside, Rodney Billups' Pioneers stayed close behind a strong effort from the floor early before the Buffs put the clamps on defensively. Ricardo Patton, now a DU assistant, coached the Buffs for 12 seasons through 2006-07.
"When we contest shots and we contest shots high, good things happen," Boyle said. "There was a couple of contested shots that went in, but most of the shots going in for them were layups or they were uncontested shots. That's the kind of stuff we have to be consistent with. If you let good shooters get open looks, they're going to knock them down."
DU shot .556 (15-for-27) during the first half but the Buffs countered with a strong night from the floor as well, shooting over 53 percent in each half before finishing with a .532 mark (33-for-62). The Buffs led 43-33 at halftime but DU was able to pull within six points a little more than four minutes into the second half. CU took over from there, putting together a 12-1 run over the next three and a half minutes and capping the burst with an electrifying all-freshman fast break alley-oop from McKinley Wright to Tyler Bey. The Pioneers never challenged afterward.
DU shot just 30 percent (9-for-30) in the second half, and for the second time in as many games the Buffs' perimeter defense was strong, holding the Pioneers to a 6-for-19 effort on 3-pointers with a 3-for-12 mark after halftime.
"We wanted to guard the ball well the first half too, it just didn't work out like that," CU junior Namon Wright said. "They were hitting shots, but we also weren't contesting shots high. We weren't contesting every shot, and that was the difference in field goal percentage."
Four players scored in double figures for the Buffs, led by 14 points from Namon Wright, who went 4-for-5 from the field. Sophomore Deleon Brown came off the bench to go 5-for-9 with 13 points, while freshman point guard McKinley Wright enjoyed another solid all-around game with 12 points, three rebounds, two assists, and two steals. George King scored 11 points and shared the team rebounding lead with Lucas Siewert with seven apiece.
The Buffs outrebounded the Pioneers 46-23 and owned a 15-3 advantage on second-chance points.
Boyle was able to give 11 different players double-digit minutes, which could help the Buffs later this week when they play three games in three days at the Paradise Jam at Liberty University in Virginia.
"Eventually we're going to have to get this rotation whittled down," Boyle said. "But we're getting ready to play three games in three days in Lynchburg, so we're going to need some depth, we're going to need some different guys on different nights. There might be some foul trouble. We're not playing guys heavy minutes, so we should be able to stay fresh through this thing and it should be interesting to see how things play out."
Akintola 0-0 1-4 1, Amigo 10-20 0-2 22, Rosga 5-13 3-4 15, Pemberton 3-6 0-0 7, Murkey 1-4 0-2 2, Carlisle 0-0 0-0 0, Krafka 2-4 1-2 6, Knighton 0-0 0-0 0, Mackey 1-1 0-0 2, L.Neff 0-1 0-0 0, Rodriguez 2-8 3-4 7, Holtzmann 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 24-57 8-18 62.COLORADO (2-0)
Miller-Stewart 1-1 1-2 3, Collier 2-6 2-2 7, King 5-8 1-2 11, M.Wright 6-10 0-1 12, N.Wright 4-5 5-7 14, Siewert 2-3 2-2 7, Strating 2-2 0-0 4, Walton 1-3 2-2 5, Repine 0-1 0-0 0, Nikolic 1-3 0-0 2, Brown 5-9 2-2 13, Schwartz 3-6 0-1 7, Bey 1-5 2-3 4. Totals 33-62 17-24 89.
Halftime — Colorado 43-33. 3-Point Goals — Denver 6-19 (Amigo 2-3, Rosga 2-6, Krafka 1-2, Pemberton 1-4, L.Neff 0-1, Murkey 0-1, Rodriguez 0-2), Colorado 6-17 (Walton 1-1, Siewert 1-2, Schwartz 1-2, N.Wright 1-2, Collier 1-3, Brown 1-3, Repine 0-1, M.Wright 0-1, King 0-2). Fouled Out — Mackey. Rebounds — Denver 18 (Pemberton 5), Colorado 44 (Siewert, King 7). Assists — Denver 12 (Murkey 4), Colorado 11 (Nikolic, Walton, M.Wright 2). Total Fouls — Denver 23, Colorado 22. A — 6,451 (11,064).