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Shorthanded CU Buffs men’s basketball pulls away from South Dakota in season opener

Shorthanded CU Buffs men’s basketball pulls away from South
Dakota in season opener 1

MANHATTAN, Kan. — Colorado men’s basketball coach Tad Boyle earlier this week expressed the hope his squad could get to the season opener without dealing with the COVID-19 hurdles that scuttled the opening week of college basketball.

The Buffaloes didn’t quite make it. But that didn’t stop CU from producing a thorough 84-61 opening-night win against South Dakota on the first day of the Little Apple Classic at Kansas State.

CU played without senior wing D’Shawn Schwartz, who was not in the arena after experiencing a COVID-related issue on Wednesday morning. Schwartz suffered a “possible exposure” according to head coach Tad Boyle and was sent back to Boulder. Immediately after the game, Boyle didn’t rule out Schwartz for Saturday’s game against Kansas State.

“We just want to be very, very safe with him and not put anybody else at risk,” Boyle said. “Hopefully he’ll be back in uniform on Friday. We’ll see. We’ll know more (Thursday) and Friday about that situation.”

While the status of one of CU’s senior leaders remains uncertain, the Buffs pulled away on a ragged shooting night from both sides typical of a season opener, though CU rediscovered its shooting touch as the game progressed.

With Schwartz out, senior point guard McKinley Wright IV put the offense on his shoulders, missing his first shot of the season before knocking down six in a row as the Buffs steadily built a 45-31 halftime lead. Wright went 8-for-12 from the field and 3-for-3 from the free throw line, finishing with 20 points and six assists with only two turnovers.

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Among the individual highlights, freshman Jabari Walker enjoyed a strong Buffs debut, knocking down his first career field goal attempt on a 3-pointer and going 5-for-5 on free throws before finishing with 10 points and six rebounds. Tulsa graduate transfer Jeriah Horne, after a slow start, knocked down three consecutive 3-pointers in the second half. And 7-footer Dallas Walton looked much more like the player Buffs fans fell in love with three seasons ago than the one that struggled last year in the wake of ACL surgery. Walton went 4-for-6 with eight points and also grabbed seven rebounds, just one shy of matching his career -high.

After a slow start from 3-point range, Horne helped the Buffs finish with a 10-for-25 mark (.400) on 3-pointers. CU also went 14-for-15 at the free throw line.

Despite the rout, Boyle will have plenty to dissect with the Buffs on Thanksgiving before taking on Kansas State on Friday night. CU had a decisive size advantage against South Dakota but outrebounded the Coyotes only 45-42. The Buffs also committed too many fouls, earning 10 in the first half and five more within the first five minutes of the second half, leading to 24 free throw attempts for South Dakota.

“We had two simple messages, really,” Wright said. “One was, ‘Play for five,’ which is D’Shawn. We don’t know if it’s a real positive or not, so we’re waiting to find out. The other one was, ‘Don’t take it for granted,’ because we don’t know when the season will end. We don’t know how many games we’re really going to get. We just have to play every game like it’s our last one. Especially for our seniors, and this being our last year. Don’t take anything for granted.”

Colorado 84, South Dakota 61

SOUTH DAKOTA (0-1)

Heiman 0-2 0-2 0, Chisom 5-10 1-2 12, Perrott-Hunt 2-7 1-1 5, Plitzuweit 3-11 3-4 9, Umude 7-22 9-11 24, Fuller 0-1 2-2 2, Koster 0-1 0-0 0, Zizic 2-2 2-2 6, Archambault 1-3 0-0 3, Kamateros 0-1 0-0 0, Anderson 0-0 0-0 0, Dial 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 20-60 18-24 61.

COLORADO (1-0)

Battey 3-8 1-2 7, Walton 4-6 0-0 8, Parquet 3-5 0-0 8, Wright 8-12 3-3 20, Daniels 3-7 1-1 9, Horne 4-14 0-0 11, Barthelemy 3-8 4-4 11, Walker 2-8 5-5 10, da Silva 0-2 0-0 0, Clifford 0-2 0-0 0, O’Brien 0-1 0-0 0, Strating 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 30-73 14-15 84.

Halftime — Colorado 45-31. 3-Point Goals — South Dakota 3-20 (Archambault 1-2, Chisom 1-2, Umude 1-7, Perrott-Hunt 0-4, Plitzuweit 0-5), Colorado 10-25 (Horne 3-5, Daniels 2-4, Parquet 2-4, Wright 1-2, Walker 1-3, Barthelemy 1-4, Battey 0-1, O’Brien 0-1, da Silva 0-1). Fouled Out — Walton. Rebounds — South Dakota 42 (Chisom 9), Colorado 45 (Walton, Barthelemy 7). Assists — South Dakota 9 (Chisom, Plitzuweit 3), Colorado 20 (Wright 6). Total Fouls — South Dakota 16, Colorado 22.

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