So you want to take Josh Scott out of the game, huh? No problem for the Buffaloes. This year's team is chalked full of talent on the wing and on Friday night the "three-headed monster" as Tad Boyle called it was in full-on attack mode as Colorado cruised to an 84-63 victory over the Portland Pilots.
George King led the way in the scoring column with 18 points, Josh Fortune flirted with a triple-double tallying 17 points, 14 rebounds and six assists, and Tre'Shaun Fletcher matched his 17 while shooting 88 percent from the field. Oh, and that Scott guy who Portland wanted to take out of the game, he put in a solid 13 points on 5-of-6 shooting, flashing his outside game for the second contest in a row.
"I think we can be great in the long run," said Fortune of the three. "With me, George and Tre, we obviously have a lot of depth. We can all play 40 minutes and play hard for 40 minutes. We can be good."
"We knew that with Askia Booker graduating we were going to lose 17 points a game out of our lineup, so we were going to need to fill that gap," added Tad Boyle. "It wasn't going to be one guy, but all of those guys are capable scorers and rebounders, so I knew coming into this year that we were going to be deeper and more balanced than last year's team."
Colorado controlled the game nearly wire-to-wire, excluding a 13-2 run by the Pilots midway through the first half. it was the controlling, high-flying, feel-good win your supposed to have against Portland in your home opener. Three games into the season it's evident that this Colorado Basketball team has come a long way from the bad-chemistry ridden Buffs of last season.
"There's no question that this is an entirely different team than last year," Boyle said. "I think what made the Auburn game so good was the fact that our backs were up against the wall and we answered the bell... We've just got to understand that we are playing for each other and with each other. If we can understand that and take that to heart we'll be fine."
Despite a loss to no. 7 Iowa State in the season opener, a strong performance there coupled with impressive victories in the last two games has people wondering how great this team can be.
"Well, this team can be great, but this team needs everyone to be great," Boyle explained. " We need a great inside presence which we have with Josh Scott, Wesley Gordon and Tory Miller. We've got a good outside presence with Dominique Collier, Thomas Akyazili and Xavier Talton... This team has the highest upside of any team we've had here, but it's not going to happen overnight. We've still got a lot of room for improvement."
The schedule sets up nicely to work towards that improvement, with four consecutive home games in which the Buffs will be heavy favorites taking place over the next two weeks before Colorado heads North up I-25 to take on rival Colorado State, but of course, Boyle is just focused on the next day.
"I know this - we need to come out tomorrow and get better," he told. "It's a short turnaround with a game on Sunday, so tomorrow, physically we might not get better, but we get better mentally and emotionally. then on Sunday we need to come out and show improvements in those areas."
Boyle will always see the improvements his team needs to make, but one thing is for sure, there's one heck of a fun team playing basketball in Boulder.
We had seen just about every part of Geroge King's multi-faceted game coming into the night, but as Beau Gamble noted on the BSN Buffs Podcast last night, we'd yet to see his high-flying ability. Well, on Friday we got a little taste. King timed a Dom Collier miss perfectly and elevated above the rim to garner the loudest eruption from the 7,783 fans in the building.
This is sure to be just the beginning of the George King highlight reel.
PLAYER OF THE GAME
Anytime you nearly mess around and get a triple-double, you're getting the player of the game honors in my book.
Fortune was everywhere for the Buffs tonight, on top of his 17 points, 14 rebounds and six assists, he added three steals and a block. Not in your wildest Josh Fortune dreams did you ever have him snagging 14 rebounds and you probably didn't have him notching six assists either. Fortune showed on Friday night that he is the big-time talent CU fans were hoping he'd be.
The halftime whistle.
Whatever Tad Boyle said to his boys, who only led by seven, at the half worked.
After giving up the first bucket of the half, Colorado proceeded to go on an 18-3 run to effectively put away the Pilots right then and there. The Pilots would never again come within reaching distance of the Buffs as they cruised all way into Larry Bird Squad time, getting walk-ons Brett Brady, Josh Repine and Mitch Lombard into the game.
As always, Tad Boyle attributed the second half runaway to rebounding and defense as Colorado held portland to 30 percent shooting and outrebounded them by 17 in the half.
QUOTE OF THE GAME
George King and Tre Fletcher talking about Fortune's performance on the boards.
The Buffaloes move to 2-1 on the season and win their eighth straight home opener. The main lasting impact of this one will be more grapevine talk that Tad Boyle might have something special this year.
The Buffaloes welcome the Mavericks of Omaha into the Coors Events Center for a little Sunday matinee. The game takes place at noon and will be aired on the Pac-12 Networks.