CONWAY, SC — The Colorado men’s basketball team had not faced two high-ranked opponents in the first five games of a season in 49 years.
The Buffaloes might want to consider doing this a little more often.
The Buffs continued their roller coaster ride through the first two weeks of the season with another impressive highlight on Friday, defeating the No. 24 Texas A&M 103-75.
It was CU’s second win against a ranked opponent in five days, following a win over then-No. 11 Tennessee on Sunday. And like the win over the Volunteers, the Buffs’ solid all-around performance against A&M came after a brief reversal after a disappointing loss as CU dropped their tournament opener against UMass on Thursday.
It was the Buffs’ first 100-point game since a 100-71 home win over Drake in the 2018-19 season opener. CU’s 103 points set a Myrtle Beach Invitational record.
“I feel like we’re good at never losing two in a row,” said CU guard KJ Simpson. “I think that’s a big key. When we lose a game, we never want to lose two in a row. That means we learn from what we did wrong in the previous game and go out there and worry about who we’re playing against in the next game.”
It was as complete a victory as CU have had against a top-flight opponent in a while, and it was achieved from a man down with starting forward J’Vonne Hadley not playing against UMass after suffering a right shoulder injury. The Buffs more than made up for Hadley’s absence, with Simpson taking the lead.
The sophomore guard decimated the Aggies on all fronts, going 11-for-17 with four 3-pointers and finishing with a Myrtle Beach Invitational-record 30 points. It was CU’s first 30-point game since McKinley Wright IV scored 30 points in his freshman season on December 15, 2017 in a double overtime win against South Dakota State. It was the first 30-point game by a Buffs player in a regulation game since Derrick White scored 30 points in a NIT first-round loss on March 19, 2017 in Central Florida.
Simpson also went 4-for-4 on free throws with seven rebounds, three assists and a career-high six steals.
However, Simpson was hardly alone. Javon Ruffin came off the bench to play 4-on-6 from the field and 4-on-4 at the free throw line, finishing with 14 points, five rebounds and three assists. Ethan Wright hit five 3-pointers off the bench, and starting XI Nique Clifford shrugged off his slow start to the season with 11 points, four rebounds and four assists.
“After the buzzer (vs UMass) went off, we were all disappointed,” Ruffin said. “Not necessarily in the fact that we lost, but in how we did it. We know we didn’t do our best. Not just shooting, but our effort wasn’t there, our defense wasn’t there. That’s how we felt when we left the game, so we knew we had a goal today to make sure we didn’t lose in the same way.”
Texas A&M led 14-12 early in the first half as the Buffs started a 15-2 run and never looked back, increasing the lead to 54-33 at halftime.
CU kept the Aggies on 40% shooting and passed A&M 35-28. The Buffs shrugged off their .294 long-range start through four games to go 16-to-32 with 3-pointers.
“I’m proud of this team,” said CU head coach Tad Boyle. “I felt at breakfast and on the bus that came here, these guys take care of this team. They take care of this season. You care about winning. As long as you can feel that your players feel that way, it helps a lot as a coach, even if it’s not fun to lose. Knowing these guys are with you whether they win or lose is a good feeling.”
Snapshot: CU Buffs vs. No. 24Texas A&M
turning point: Texas A&M led 14-12 early on, but the Buffs put on a 15-2 run and were in control the rest of the way.
Buff of the game: KJ Simpson. The sophomore guard set a Myrtle Beach Invitational record with a career-high 30 points. He went 11-for-17 from the field, 4-for-4 on free throws and also finished with seven rebounds, three assists and a career-high six steals.
What’s next: The Buffs will play either Boise State or Loyola Chicago in Sunday’s tournament finals (5 p.m. MT, ESPNEWS).
Colorado 103, No. 24 Texas A&M 75
da Silva 2-5 4-4 9, Lovering 1-1 2-4 4, Clifford 4-8 1-3 11, Gabbidon 3-7 1-2 9, Simpson 11-17 4-4 30, Ruffin 4-6 4-4 14, O’Brien 3-5 1-1 7, Hammond 1-4 2-2 4, Wright 5-6 0-0 15. Overall 34-59 19-24 103.
TEXAS A&M (2-2)
Coleman 1-2 0-0 2 Washington 2-7 7-8 12 Dennis 4-6 0-0 9 Radford 0-5 4-4 4 Taylor 1-8 3-4 6 Gordon 2-3 0 -0 6, Marble 6-9 0-3 12, Hefner 4-8 4-4 13, Robinson 2-3 0-0 4, Garcia 1-1 0-0 2, Obaseki 0-5 2-2 2, Pratt 1-3 0-0 3, Brown 0-0 0-0 0. Total 24-60 20-25 75.
half time – Colorado 54-33. 3 Point Goals — Colorado 16-32 (Wright 5-6, Simpson 4-8, Clifford 2-3, Ruffin 2-3, Gabbidon 2-5, da Silva 1-2, O’Brien 0-2, Hammond 0-3), Texas A&M 7:20 (Gordon 2:2, Pratt 1:2, Washington 1:2, Dennis 1:3, Hefner 1:3, Taylor 1:4, Marble 0:1, Robinson 0:1, Radford 0:2) . fouled out — Garcia. setbacks — Colorado 35 (Simpson 7), Texas A&M 28 (Washington, Marble 5). assists — Colorado 22 (Lovering, Clifford 4), Texas A&M 13 (Dennis, Taylor 3). Total Fouls — Colorado 22, Texas A&M 24. A – 1,332 (3,600).