King, Wright combine to lead Colorado past Air Force 81-69


BOULDER | George King is on quite a tear, both as a scorer and rebounder.

King scored 25 points for the second straight game and McKinley Wright had 19, helping Colorado pull away in the second half for an 81-69 win over Air Force on Sunday.

King also had 15 rebounds as part of his 54th career double-double at Colorado (6-0), which is off to its best start since 2012-13, when the Buffaloes also opened 6-0. Six of King’s rebounds came on the offensive end. King also scored 25 points in Colorado’s 79-70 win over Mercer in the Paradise Jam championship game a week ago.

“He was a beast tonight,” Colorado coach Tad Boyle said. “He was an absolute beast on the boards. He let the game come to him and the best thing about his 25 points is they came on 13 shots — great efficiency.”

King said he likes where the Buffaloes are at in terms of their unbeaten record but would like to see more overall consistency.

“I want us to be woken up before we get down,” King said. “I want to be the first one to punch. We can take a hit and still come out to win the game, but I’d rather hit first and bury teams.”

Ryan Manning had 17 points to lead Air Force (3-2), which has lost its last seven meetings with Colorado. Manning matched a career-high, connecting on five 3-pointers. Frank Toohey added 15 points for the Falcons.

Air Force got off to a solid start but the Buffaloes’ stepped up defensive pressure in the second half disrupted the Falcons’ rhythm, said Air Force coach Dave Pilipovich.

“Defensively, they got down on us,” he said. “They clamped down and took us away from some things, which was good on their part, especially the perimeter.”

Down by one at the half, Colorado moved in front with a momentum swinging 8-2 burst that featured successive 3-pointers by King and Deleon Brown. It was capped by a breathtaking sequence in which Wright lost the ball on a steal by Trevor Lyons and hustled back on defense to block Lyons’s layup attempt, leading to Brown’s rebound and long pass downcourt to King for a two-handed breakaway dunk and a 57-50 Colorado lead with 12:22 left to play.

The Falcons fought back to within four on a dunk by Dane Norman but Wright answered right away with another 3-pointer.

When King connected on his fifth 3-pointer of the game, matching a career-high, he gave the Buffaloes a 10-point cushion with 3:18 remaining.

Air Force could not make significant inroads on the deficit the rest of the way.

Wright drove in for a layup in the final minute of the first half, pulling Colorado to within 34-33 at the break.

The Falcons leaned on the 3-pointer for their early edge, connecting on eight in the first half, which matched their average for made 3-pointers in a game in four previous contests this season.

Manning hit four of them in the opening period.

TAKEAWAY

Air Force: The Falcons could not sustain a blistering pace from 3-point range. After converting eight of their first 15 shots from beyond the arc in the first half, the Falcons made only three of 11 in the second in the face stepped up defensive pressure.

Colorado: Feeding off stepped up defensive pressure, the Buffaloes got their transition game going in the second half, getting up and down the floor and knocking down pull up shots from the perimeter and as well getting into the paint to score from up close.

FROSH PHENOM

Freshman guard McKinley Wright is off to an impressive start with the Buffaloes and opposing coaches are also taking notice of his play. “McKinley Wright is a pretty darn good player,” Pilipovich said. “He is so fast. He may be as fast with the ball as he is without it. I like that kid a lot.”

UP NEXT

Air Force: Plays Wednesday at Indiana State, the middle game of three straight on the road.

Colorado: Heads to Fort Collins on Saturday to play another intrastate rival, Colorado State.