Namon Wright, McKinley Wright lift Colorado by Drake 100-71
BOULDER, Colo. — Maybe this was only fitting: Two players named Wright got Colorado’s season started on the right foot.
Namon Wright scored 25 points and McKinley Wright IV added 17, helping the Buffaloes pull away in the second half to beat Drake 100-71 on Tuesday night in their season opener.
Coming off the bench, Namon Wright — a senior guard — hit 8 of 12 shots to establish a new high while at Colorado. His overall career-best is 28 set on Feb. 24, 2015, while playing for Missouri. At more than 29 minutes, he saw more court time than any other Colorado player.
“I told Namon, ‘The better you play, the more you’re going to play,’” coach Tad Boyle said. “Tonight was a testament to that. … Tonight was Namon’s night.”
Tyler Bey had nine points and 14 rebounds as the Buffaloes (1-0) moved to 9-0 in home openers under Boyle. McKinley Wright picked up where he left off in the assist department with six. He broke Chauncey Billups’ freshman record for assists a season ago with 175.
Colorado shrugged off a sluggish start to lead by 11 at halftime. The team used a quick spurt out of the break to turn the game into a rout.
Just what they had in mind.
“We had a team meeting before and our focus is put teams away when we’ve got them down,” McKinley Wright explained. “We showcased that. Now we have to keep it going.”
Nick Norton led Drake (1-1) with 18 points, including four of the team’s 11 3-pointers. D.J. Wilkins chipped in 16.
“We take the good, we take the bad and we move on,” Drake coach Darian DeVries said. “It’s just one of those nights where it got away from us and we need to figure out why and grow from it. The beauty of college basketball is you turn around and play in another three days. You get a chance to fix it quickly.”
The Buffaloes showed some early rust, but relied on their stingy defense until the offense found some rhythm. They out-rebounded Drake by a 44-29 margin and kept the turnovers to a minimum — until garbage time.
Drake: The Bulldogs kept up with Colorado when the 3-pointers were falling. They were 7 of 18 in the first half from long range, and 4 of 19 in the second. “I thought we really struggled to get in any kind of flow because of their defense,” DeVries said.
Colorado: The Buffaloes improved to 30-9 over the past three seasons in nonconference regular season games.
Redshirt freshman Evan Battey made his Colorado debut nearly 11 months after suffering a stroke. He steadily regained feeling on his right side while his speech is constantly improving. Battey finished with eight points in 20 minutes.
“We’re happy for Evan and glad to see him back out there,” McKinley Wright said. “He’s going to be big for us this year.”
DRAKE & DRAKE
It was a Drake-themed night with the school from Iowa in town, filled with plenty of music from the rapper/song writer. There was a Drake trivia contest and a name-that-tune challenge. Even the Buffaloes’ mascot got into the act by dressing in Drake-style clothing.
THIS & THAT
The Buffaloes were without sophomore guard D’Shawn Schwartz, who sat out a game for an NCAA infraction. Schwartz played in a non-certified summer league game outside of the allowable dates of competition. He saw action in 18 games last season. … Colorado newcomer Shane Gatling had 12 points.
Drake: Face Texas State on Saturday in the first of three straight games at home.
Colorado: Hosts Omaha on Friday.
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Down 14-7 with less than 11 minutes left in regulation, Rifle head coach Todd Casebier decided it was time to deviate from his ground-and-pound offense for a bit of an aerial attack.