BOULDER | Colorado found out what it’s like to get someone’s best shot. Now the Buffaloes are ready to take theirs against a storied program.
D’Shawn Schwartz had a season-high 16 points, including a tiebreaking 3-pointer late, and No. 20 Colorado withstood another upset scare Wednesday night in a 76-64 win over Loyola Marymount.
McKinley Wright IV also scored 16 points and Tyler Bey had 13 points and eight rebounds for the Buffaloes (7-0), who overcame 18 turnovers and a big performance from Lions junior Eli Scott to remain unbeaten.
It is the best start for a Colorado team since 1982, but getting an eighth straight victory will require winning at No. 2 Kansas on Saturday.
“It’s time to go to war. It’s going to be a battle,” Wright said. “We’re not going to go in there and roll over because they’re No. 2 in the country. That’s a great opportunity for us; we’re going to make a name for ourselves.”
The Buffaloes scraped by Sacramento State on Saturday and then shrugged off 13 first-half turnovers Wednesday. Loyola Marymount (3-5) nearly turned those into a signature win as Scott finished with a career-high 31 points and grabbed 10 rebounds for his second double-double of the season.
“I just tried to stay aggressive and make plays,” he said.
The Lions came close to pulling off a surprise but went cold down the stretch. Scott’s layup with 4:17 left tied it at 61, but Loyola Marymount didn’t make another field goal until Scott’s dunk with eight seconds left. They missed nine straight shots from the field and three of four free throws.
“We took a good shot from them tonight and we handled it,” Colorado coach Tad Boyle said.
Loyola Marymount led by four at halftime and built a 43-34 advantage on a 3 by Scott early in the second half. Colorado rallied to get to 49-47 behind a trio of 3-pointers.
The Buffaloes took the lead on a 3, and the teams were tied at 59 when Wright hit a jumper from the wing. Scott tied it on a layup with 4:17 to go.
Schwartz hit his 3-pointer from the corner with 2:41 left and the Buffaloes used strong defense and sank 16 of their last 18 free throws to seal it.
Loyola Marymount: Finished 1-2 against teams from Colorado, including a win at Air Force and a home loss to Colorado State. The Lions get five of their next six games at home before starting conference play against San Diego on Jan. 2.
Colorado: The 37 turnovers in the last two games is not a good sign heading into the showdown at Kansas. The Buffaloes have solid wins against Clemson, Arizona State and Wyoming, but need to clean up their ball security if they hope to pull an upset Saturday.
“If we go into Allen Fieldhouse and turn it over 18, 19 times like we have the last two games at home, it’s going to be a long night,” Boyle said.
TAKE ME HOME
Lions coach Mike Dunlap returned to Colorado, where he enjoyed a tremendous amount of success. Dunlap led Division II Metro State to national titles in 2000 and 2002 and later served as an assistant coach under George Karl with the Denver Nuggets.
Dunlap still has fond memories of his time in Colorado.
“There isn’t a day I don’t miss it, and there isn’t a day I don’t love coming back here,” Dunlap said.
Colorado squeezed by an inferior opponent for the second straight game before its daunting trip to Kansas. But even a close loss to the Jayhawks could keep the Buffaloes in the rankings.
THEY SAID IT
Loyola Marymount: “I don’t like losing at any time but I’m very encouraged by what I saw,” Dunlap said. “A lot of coaches will sell this cliche about there are no such things as moral victories. I’ve never believed in that.”
Colorado: “Coach made that apparent, that he didn’t want anybody looking forward. He made sure that we were locked in on this game,” Schwartz said.
Loyola Marymount: Hosts Grambling State on Saturday night.
Colorado: Plays at No. 2 Kansas on Saturday.