INDIANAPOLIS | Chances are, you can fit Colorado’s entire NCAA Tournament history on the back of an old Patrick Ewing jersey. And now, Ewing is part of that history, too.
The Buffaloes used an early 3-point barrage to parlay their highest seeding ever at March Madness into a first-round win Saturday over one of the biggest names in the game. It was a 96-73 thumping of Georgetown, the program Ewing starred for in the 1980s and now coaches.
Led by Jabari Walker’s 5-for-5 shooting clinic from 3-point range, the fifth-seeded Buffs (23-8) made 16 3-pointers and shot 64% from long range. Colorado advanced to face fourth-seeded Florida State in the second round on Monday.
“We’re a dangerous team. A lot of teams can’t run with us, because there are so many skill sets we have,” Walker said. “It’s really hard to beat us, I believe.”
Walker missed only one of his 10 shots on his way to a career-best 24 points, and D’Shawn Schwartz (18 points) made four of his five 3s in the first half to put Colorado into cruise control. McKinley Wright IV had 12 points and 13 assists. The Buffs made the round of 32 for only the third time since the brackets expanded to 64 teams in 1985.
Georgetown won four games in four days earlier this month to take the Big East Tournament title and make a surprise trip to the NCAAs. But the Hoyas finished 13-13 on the season, three weeks of which was interrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic, and they didn’t look like even a .500 team at any point Saturday.
“We didn’t bring our ‘A’ game,” Ewing said. “Both offensively and defensively, things we were doing great in the Big East Tournament we didn’t do well today.”
The big 7-footer did what he could — stalking the sideline in khakis and light-blue tennis shoes, pulling down his mask and shouting instructions while the game, and the season, slipped away.
But one of college basketball’s most dominating presences in the ‘80s could not make any shots — Georgetown went 30% from the floor in the first half and big man Qudus Wahab (7 for 12 for 20 points) was the only player with any sort of touch. And Ewing’s team could not defend the perimeter, which is where Colorado went crazy.
“I thought surely after the first few, they’d get a hand up,” Walker said. “But I kept finding myself open.”
The freshman from California made four of his 3s in the first half to help CU open a double-digit lead. At the end of the half, Schwartz made three straight 3s to help the Buffs double up (plus one) on Georgetown — 47-23 — heading into the locker room.
And now, people might starting seeing CU’s pedigree in a different light.
After years in nowhere-land, the Buffs are showing they can recruit in California, play with Arizona and Oregon, and even knock off a big name like Georgetown. They’ve won 20 games in eight of coach Tad Boyle’s 11 seasons and five of their seven modern-day appearances in the tournament have come since he arrived.
TAKE A BREAK
About the only thing that could stop Walker’s first-half streak was Walker himself. He was called for a flagrant-one foul when he took down Georgetown big man Timothy Ighoefe by the neck while Ighoefe was going up for what looked like an easy bucket. Boyle benched Walker at the 7:19 mark of the first half and the freshman didn’t score again until the 13:25 mark in the second. Still, what a day. Walker became the 16th player in tournament history to shoot at least five 3s and make them all.
By making the surprise trip to the tournament, Ewing alleviated some of the heat he was starting to feel back home. Still, this loss wasn’t pretty, and it leaves him without a NCAA or NIT victory since he arrived in 2017. It dropped his overall record to 62-59 — hardly a mark that would’ve cut it back in the glory days.
Colorado tries to earn its first Sweet 16 trip since 1969.
Georgetown has only two seniors on the roster, but one of them is Jamorko Pickett, who was held to 11 points on 3-for-13 shooting.