BOULDER, Colo. — George King scored 12 points, Tory Miller-Stewart had 11 and Colorado opened the season by beating Northern Colorado 66-51 on Friday night.
Freshman McKinley Wright added 10 points in his debut for Colorado. Ten of the 11 players who saw action in the game for Colorado scored.
“It was fun,” Wright said. “I had a great time out there playing with my guys and we are excited for the season.”
Andre Spight, who sat out last season after transferring from Arizona State, had 19 points to lead Northern Colorado. Jonah Radebaugh added 11 points.
Trailing by 11 at the half, Northern Colorado fought back to within 37-34 on Jonah Radebaugh’s 3-pointer and evened the score a minute later on a 3-pointer by Andre Spight with 15:53 remaining.
Colorado was leading 45-44 when the Buffaloes put together a 15-2 run capped by King’s 3-pointer to finally take control. The Bears trailed by double digits the rest of the way.
“I think it was just our energy and our effort,” King said. “We came out after something was said in the huddle, and we were ready to put these guys away.”
Northern Colorado: Spight made his debut for the Bears and he showed he’s willing to be the team’s offensive point man, hoisting 26 shots from the field, including 16 from 3-point range. Some of that was dictated by the Bears’ position in the game, playing from behind most of the night. The Bears as a team struggled to convert their shots from the field, converting 32.3 percent but they figure to get better as the season goes on.
Colorado: The Buffaloes opened the season with eight players making their debut following heavy roster turnover in the offseason. The newcomers got their feet wet in the opener but it was two of their returnees, King and Miller-Stewart, who led the way in the season-opening victory. They’ll be counted on to provide leadership on a youthful team.
Waward’s shots from 3-point range played a big part in Northern Colorado’s loss to its intrastate rival. “When you go 6-37 from the 3-point line like we did, they get those long rebounds and turn them into points in transition,” Bears coach Jeff Linder said. “Our shot selection ultimately let them be able to run a good offense against us.”
YOUTHFUL TEAM, VETERAN LEADERSHIP
The Buffaloes opened the season with eight players on the active roster who had not played previously for Colorado in a regular season game. Yet, the Buffaloes also feature an important leadership component in returning seniors King, Miller-Stewart and Dominique Collier. “‘Dom, Tory and George did a great job in practice and those freshmen, they follow those seniors’ lead,” Colorado coach Tad Boyle said. “We were locked in at practice and that carried over into the game.”
Fresman McKinley Wright had a solid debut for Colorado and his coach declared there’s much more to come from the highly regarded recruit from Champlin Park High School in North Robbinsdale, Minnesota. Said Boyle, “He’s the best freshman nobody’s talking about nationally right now. They should be and guess what? In time, they will. He’s as dialed in on defense as he is on offense — his motor, his intensity. You can’t teach what he’s got. He’s special.”
Northern Colorado hosts UC Davis on Monday night in its home opener.
Colorado hosts Denver on Tuesday in another non-conference matchup.