BOULDER, Colo. (AP) — Colorado coach Tad Boyle had a little inside information for his team: Work the ball underneath to Evan Battey.
Constantly double-teamed, the big man proved to be double trouble.
Battey scored 14 points and dished out four assists as the Buffaloes routed South Dakota 82-58 on Tuesday night for their fourth straight win.
“When they double him, it’s a dangerous deal. He can find the open man well,” Boyle said.
“Hopefully our players are figuring it out. One way to get a shot: Get the ball to the post and move. They’ve got to understand he’s a big weapon down there.”
Battey frequently drew a crowd in the paint, leading to pass after pass back out to the perimeter or to a player cutting toward the basket.
“They do a good job of getting the ball inside. That was the biggest key tonight,” South Dakota coach Todd Lee said. “That was a big disadvantage for us all night.”
Battey is steadily working his way back into form after starting the season a little rusty.
An academic redshirt last season, Battey was playing pickup basketball with his friends last December when he suffered a stroke. He’s regained the feeling on his right side.
“I believe I’m back,” Battey said. “I definitely am settling in.”
D’Shawn Schwartz scored 14 points and Tyler Bey added 13 points for the Buffaloes (6-1), who never trailed en route to earning win No. 1,300 in program history. They’re 1,300-1,198 over their 116 seasons.
Colorado threw some different looks at the Coyotes (4-4) out of the Summit League. The Buffaloes used Shane Gatling as a ball handler, ran plays around Battey in the post and showed some different wrinkles within their motion offense.
“You have to take what the defense gives you,” Schwartz explained.
It all went right to help Colorado build a lead that stretched to as many as 29 points late in the second half.
Tyler Peterson led South Dakota with 15 points, while Trey Burch-Manning chipped in 12.
“I think we had a little bit of an off night,” Peterson said. “Not really getting a chance to get into a rhythm. Things got away from us a little bit. That was the big thing was to try and slow down their big men.”
The Coyotes were plagued by foul trouble as Stanley Umude fouled out with 15:17 remaining. Burch-Manning and Peterson played a good portion of the second half with four fouls.
South Dakota was already short-handed with starters Tyler Hagedorn and Cody Kelley sidelined by injuries. Hagedorn has yet to play this season after averaging 13 points a game in 2017-18.
Kelley’s missed the last four contests.
South Dakota: Every game this season, the Coyotes have held the opposition’s leading scorer under their average. Guard McKinley Wright IV was their primary focus in the contest and he was held to 11 points, which was slightly below his 14.8 average. The difficulty was Colorado had four players averaging in double figures. It was challenging to pick just one.
Colorado: The Buffs improved to 82-27 in nonconference regular season games under Boyle.
Over their win streak, the Buffaloes have been a better second-half squad than first. On Tuesday, they were even — 41 points in both.
“I don’t want to be a second half team. I don’t want to be a first half team,” Boyle said. “I want to be a 40-minute team. That means we have to execute and play with energy and effort.”
CALL HIM RALPH
For his aggressive play, Battey’s teammates have started calling him “Ralph,” a play on the school’s buffalo mascot “Ralphie.”
“I do whatever the team needs me to do,” Battey said.
South Dakota: Plays UMKC on Saturday — the first of two straight at home.
Colorado: Hosts Illinois-Chicago out of the Horizon League on Saturday.
By PAT GRAHAM, AP Sports Writer
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