BOULDER | Dominique Collier picked up his offensive play at the right time for Colorado.
Collier scored 14 of his 16 points in the second half and Colorado broke open a close game with a late run to beat New Mexico 75-57 on Wednesday night.
“Dom was really good in the second half,” Colorado coach Tad Boyle said. “He played within himself and didn’t force the issue. He let the game come to him.”
McKinley Wright had 12 points and 10 rebounds for Colorado (7-1), which rebounded from a 72-63 setback at Colorado State last Saturday, its first loss of the season. George King added 10 points and 11 rebounds for his ninth career double-double.
“It was a good bounce-back win,” Boyle added. “We just have to keep learning. … Our second-half defense was great, and we did enough at the end.”
Anthony Mathis had 15 points for New Mexico (3-6), the lone Lobos player to score in double figures.
Jachai Simmons’ driving dunk pulled the Lobos to within a point but the Buffaloes put together a 12-3 run over the next three-plus minutes, going in front 61-51 on Wright’s driving layup with 7:39 remaining. Lazar Nikolic, making his first career start, and D’Shawn Schwartz each hit 3-pointers to help fuel the surge.
Mathis’ layup on a goal-tending call only momentarily stalled Colorado’s momentum. Collier answered with a layup and hit one of two free throws to give the Buffaloes an 11-point cushion with 3:17 left to play and New Mexico got no closer.
New Mexico coach Paul Weir said Colorado’s defensive play had a lot to do with the Lobos shooting difficulties.
“We got a lot of really good looks around the rim,” Weir said. “They just did a really good job of protecting the glass. When you get 20 more shots than an opponent, you usually feel pretty good about what you did, but we just weren’t able to convert a lot of shots around the rim.”
Schwartz hit a driving layup in the final moments of the first half, giving Colorado a 35-33 lead.
Seconds earlier, Troy Simons connected on a tying 3-pointer for New Mexico, which had trailed by as many as 11 points in the opening period.
New Mexico: Typically a high-scoring team, New Mexico’s offense was nowhere to be found against the Buffaloes. The Lobos, who averaged 86 points coming into the game and have hit the 100-point mark twice this season, shot just 29.6 percent from the field and their scoring total was just one point over their season low.
Colorado: The Buffaloes’ defensive pressure kept a lid on the Lobos’ offense and helped compensate for some sloppy play on the offensive end that saw them commit 23 turnovers. Colorado overwhelmed the Lobos on the boards, out-rebounding New Mexico 58-30.
THE FUTURE IS NOW
With the loss of senior forward Tory Miller-Stewart to a broken left foot — he is out indefinitely — Colorado is leaning more than ever on its highly-regarded freshman class. The Buffaloes started three freshmen against New Mexico and two more played significant minutes as part of a 10-man rotation. Boyle expressed confidence his young players are up to the challenge. “This freshman class is something I’m excited about,” he said.
New Mexico: Hosts rival New Mexico State on Saturday night.
Colorado: Takes to the road to play at Xavier on Saturday