The Buffs climbed out of the conference basement with the win over the Cyclones. CU is now 1-3 in the Big 12, a half game ahead of the 0-4 Missouri Tigers. While it was starting to look as if CU might not win a Big 12 game this season to some, Colorado players said after the win that they saw it on the horizon.
“I saw it coming,” said junior Richard Roby, adding the Buffs had played better in a loss to Texas A&M Saturday than they had in a loss at home to Texas a week earlier.
Head coach Ricardo Patton agreed.
“We’ve gotten better each game out,” he said.
It wasn’t clear until the end on Wednesday, however, if Colorado was going to be good enough to send ISU home with a loss. Especially after the Buffs gave up a 12-point lead in the first half and trailed by two at the break.
Three CU starters — Dominique Coleman, Xavier Silas and Jeremy Williams — sat much of the first half with two fouls. Those three players, however, got the first three CU buckets of the second half, giving Colorado a lead they would never relinquish.
The win was a serious step for a team that’s wilted down the stretch in several games this season.
Patton had said in recent weeks the team was still learning how to win. He said that lesson comes much easier after a victory.
“The thing you learn from winning is how to win,” he said.
Silas, in particular, responded to his time on the bench in the first half by providing CU offensive firepower in the second half. All of his game-high 19 points on 6-of-9 shooting came in the second half.
“I was eager to get on the court,” Silas said of sitting most of the first half. “I had a lot of energy. I knew a lot of guys were tired, so I just tried to make a difference.”
His offense was needed especially on a night when Roby struggled from the field, hitting just 6-of-18 shots. And as a team, the Buffs didn’t help themselves from the foul line. They missed 12 times in 26 foul attempts.
“If you’d have told me before the game that we’d shoot 53 percent from the free throw line and still win, I wouldn’t have believed you,” Patton said.
But Colorado stepped up on the defensive end to make up the difference. At least in part. Patton said it was a combination of Iowa State shooters having an off night and CU’s perimeter defense that led to Iowa State hitting just 6-of-27 3-point attempts.
“I thought we did a better job of contesting shots than we had in the past,” Patton said.
Overall, the win was a team effort. Several players contributed in key moments. Freshmen guards Kal Bay (6 points) and Dwight Thorne (7) were solid in the first half. Even seldom used guard James Inge logged six minutes and got two steals. Inside, junior Marcus King-Stockton battled for eight boards and a game-high three blocks.
Still, Iowa State was in the game even with a minute to go. But Silas put an exclamation point on the win with a breakaway dunk over an ISU player with 24.7 seconds remaining. It gave the Buffs a nine-point lead and led to high fives with fans sitting courtside.
“I knew it was over after that,” Silas said.
Colorado improved to 5-9 overall, while Iowa State fell to 11-7, 2-2 in conference play.
Points: Xavier Silas 19, Richard Roby 15
Rebounds: Marcus King-Stockton 8
Assists: Dominique Coleman 4
Turnovers: Silas 4
Blocks: King-Stockton 3
Steals: Coleman 4
Points: Wesley Johnson, Jiri Hubalek 15
Rebounds: Johnson 14
Assists: Taylor 6
Turnovers: Taylor 7
Blocks: three with 1
Steals: Dodie Dunson 1