BOULDER, Colo. (AP) — Colorado players were aware of its height advantage. The Buffaloes took full advantage of it in their home opener.
“Our coaches made us well aware of our size advantage,” Colorado redshirt freshman forward Wesley Gordon said. “With Josh Scott being a huge presence inside, our guards were aggressive off the dribble in getting the ball to us.”
Scott had 15 points and eight rebounds to lead Colorado past Tennessee-Martin 91-65 Sunday night.
Spencer Dinwiddie and Wesley Gordon added 13 points each for Colorado (1-1). Xavier Johnson contributed 12 points for the Buffaloes, who rebounded from a road loss to Baylor.
Colorado dominated its smaller guests, outscoring them 44-10 within the lane.
“We always want to dominate inside, but particularly tonight with Josh and Wesley,” Colorado coach Tad Boyle said. “Our advantage against UT-Martin was inside and wherever you have that competitive advantage you want to make sure you try to exploit it as best you can.”
Terence Smith and Marshun Newell led Tennessee-Martin (0-2) with 15 points each. Dee Oldham has 11. The Skyhawks were 12-for-29 on 3-pointers.
“I think in our league we’re not used to seeing 6’10″s and 6’11″s, we just have 6’6″s and 6’7″s,” Tennessee-Martin coach Jason Joes said. “When we play against a 6’10” who can play, I think it’s an issue.”
“Those big dudes duck us in right at the rim and we’re just not big enough to defend that,” Jones said of the Colorado front line.
Dustin Thomas came off the bench to score nine points and Colorado limited Tennessee-Martin to 35 percent shooting in building a 10-point lead at the break.
Smith made his first three shots to start the game and his rainbow jumper gave the Skyhawks their biggest lead, 14-8. But they had only a free throw by Javier Martinez over the next four minutes when Xavier Talton’s layup gave Colorado its first lead, 16-15.
Tennessee-Martin led 24-21 after Justin Childs made a 10-foot jumper, but the team went cold the rest of the half. Xavier Johnson started a 24-11 run over the final 8:22 of the first half and the Buffaloes took a 45-35 lead into intermission.
Johnson helped maintain a double-digit lead for the Buffaloes with a 3-pointer and two free throws in the early going of the second half. Oldham’s back-to-back treys with 12:51 remaining, momentarily got Tennessee-Martin below the 10-point deficit, 56-49, but Scott’s two free throws and a layup by Jaron Hopkins got the lead back to 60-49.
Baskets by Newell and Oldham brought the Skyhawks to within 63-53, but the team from Ohio Valley Conference ran out of gas over the final 8:12 left. Askia Booker accounted for six points over that span as the Buffaloes closed out the game with a 28-12 advantage.
“What we need to take from this game teams coming in here will get tired and Tennessee-Martin got tired,” Boyle said. “I think the pace of the game in the first half caught up with them in the second half.”
Boyle had some issues with his team’s play. He pointed to 18 turnovers and allowing the Skyhawks 29 3-point attempts.
“We’re not executing with mid-season form,” Boyle said. “The inefficiency to me was the 18 turnover. Our areas of concern was taking care of the ball and guarding the ball.”
Fortunately for the Buffaloes, the Skyhawks were not accurate from beyond the arc.
“We missed some of the same shots in the second half that we made in the first half,” Jones said. I was happy with the number of shots and the good looks that we were able to make. We made our share of them, just not enough.”
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