BOULDER - Colorado men's basketball coach Tad Boyle got his wish - and maybe a bit more. Encouraging his enigmatic team to play a full 40 minutes and finally put away a December opponent, Boyle witnessed a demolition job Wednesday night at the Coors Events Center.
CU 92, New Orleans 34.
For the Buffaloes' purposes, it was the right opponent at the right time. But if a disclaimer is necessary, here goes: UNO was undersized, overmatched and probably tired. The Privateers (9-6) had been slapped around Tuesday night in Denton, Texas, losing by 31 (78-47) and having their six-game winning streak snapped.
"We played (Tuesday) night against North Texas, got on a plane (Wednesday) morning and flew here," lamented first-year UNO coach Mark Slessinger, who called Boyle "one of the best up-and-coming coaches in the country. (CU) is very lucky to have him and they need to try and keep him as long as they can."
Privately, Boyle might have empathized with Slessinger's travel travails, but publicly he said the Buffs' 58-point win - and the way it was accomplished - was exactly what they needed with their Pac-12 Conference debut looming.
"I don't know how they scored 34 points," Boyle said jokingly to begin his postgame press conference. "We wanted to put two halves together; better late than never . . . we took a step forward; we talked at halftime about not playing the scoreboard . . . it's not going to be like this every night, but it's about Colorado basketball and how we approach games."
CU approached and finished this one precisely as Boyle intended. After leading 51-20 at halftime, the Buffs continued to pour it on in the final 20 minutes, leading by as many as 58 twice in the last 2:30 before holding that margin at the buzzer. And the Privateers' 34 points were the lowest total by a Buffs opponent in the modern era, or since Jan. 17, 1949, when CU put down Kansas 42-30.
"I think this is just what we needed . . . for where our team is, this was good for us," Boyle continued. "I wish we were at this point earlier in the season, but we weren't."
The Buffs were all business in rolling to their highest point total of the season and their largest margin of victory since a 116-52 mauling of Savannah State in the 2005-06 season.
Wearing all black uniforms for the first time since Feb. 9, 2008 - a 72-58 rout of Oklahoma - the Buffs improved to 8-4. They've won their last three games in an eight-game home stand that will carry them three games into league play, which begins Saturday against Utah (4 p.m., ROOT Sports).
Five CU players reached double figures, led by Carlon Brown's 18 points - 16 of them before halftime. Senior Austin Dufault added 14, freshman guard Askia Booker 13 and sophomore Andre Roberson and freshman Spencer Dinwiddie 12 each. Roberson also collected 12 rebounds.
Brown, a transfer from Utah, entered the game needing eight points to reach 1,000 for his career. Less than halfway through the first half, he met that requirement - and he did it with an exclamation point.
His dunk on a fast break at the 13:30 mark gave him 1,001 points and the Buffs a 19-7 advantage that would widen as the night wore on for the Privateers.
Surpassing 1,000 points was a secondary accomplishment for Brown, who was happier to see every CU player who suited up enter the game and all but one - ironically, that was starting guard Nate Tomlinson - score.
Said Brown: "The best thing was our scout team got to play good minutes down the stretch . . . the last two games I think we let them down because they should have gotten to play then. I never thought about scoring 1,000 points; I just wanted to make the most out of my opportunities and play the best I could, wherever I was."
Behind Brown, the Buffs embarked on a 24-7 first-half run that opened a 43-14 advantage with 3:39 left before intermission. Brown scored seven points during that stretch and finished the half with 16. The last time the Buffs had scored 50 or more in a half was on Dec. 2, 2005 against Mercer (65-29).
The next big question facing the Buffs: Could they maintain their momentum in the final 20 minutes and give Boyle the full game he's been craving?
In a word, yes.
Six minutes into the second half, CU had outscored UNO 12-5 and taken a 38-point (63-25) lead. Over the final 14 minutes, the Buffs led by as many as 58, sending many in the crowd of 5,277 to the exits with 61/2 minutes remaining.
CU shot 55.2 percent from the field (32-of-58) and held UNO to 21.4 percent (12-of-56). The Buffs outrebounded the Privateers 53-18, had a 20-0 bulge in fast break points, and outscored them 50-6 in the paint - a point of emphasis according to Booker, who returned to the lineup after missing the previous game with a stomach virus.
CU's game plan, he said, was "getting ball in the paint. (UNO) is not nearly as big as we are from a guard's standpoint and we could take advantage of it. That was a big thing we pinpointed for this game."
Booker, who also had six rebounds, three assists and two steals against one turnover, said he felt "a lot better" Wednesday. "I felt I couldn't let my team down . . . there won't be any more sitting out for me."
Following Utah's visit, Washington (Thursday, 7 p.m.) and Washington State (Saturday, 2 p.m.) make trips to the Events Center next week. Tickets, with prices starting at $10, can be purchased at CUBuffs.com/tickets or by calling 303-49-BUFFS.