BOULDER, Colo. — McKinley Wright IV tossed in 21 points, scoring 10 straight for Colorado down the stretch, to help close out the Buffaloes’ 84-72 victory over Illinois-Chicago on Saturday night.
Wright added nine assists, six rebounds and three steals, but it was the sophomore’s performance down the stretch that earned the victory for the Buffaloes (7-1).
“He’s just a winner, he makes winning plays,” Colorado head coach Tad Boyle said. “He’s terrific. I can’t say enough good things about him.”
Fellow sophomore Tyler Bey totaled 15 points and a career-high 15 rebounds for his second double-double of the season.
“We forget that these guys are sophomores because we expect so much out of them,” Boyle said.
The Flames (4-6) hung around most of the game, partly due to 42 points in the paint. Marcus Ottey led UIC with a season-high 22 points on 10-of-14 shooting from the floor. The junior guard accounted for 15 of the Flames’ 29 first-half points. Jordan Blount chipped in with 20 points and Godwin Boahen scored 15. The trio accounted for 79 percent of the Flames’ offense.
“I think most nights if you have three to four guys in double figures you’re about where you should be in a high-level game,” Illinois-Chicago head coach Steve McClain said.
Colorado never trailed in a game that was tied just once after the tipoff. But the Buffaloes didn’t pull away until UIC ran into foul trouble late in the game. Boahen and Jacob Wiley fouled out for the Flames, while Jordan Blount, Ottey and Rob Howard Jr. finished the game with four fouls. UIC was whistled for 28 fouls and that led to the Buffaloes sinking 25 of 33 foul shots. UIC was 6 of 10 at the free-throw line.
The Buffaloes forced 24 turnovers and held Illinois-Chicago’s leading scorer Tarkus Ferguson without a point until there was three minutes remaining in the game. The junior guard came in averaging 17.1 points per game. The Flames shot 58 percent from the floor for the game. It was the best shooting percentage by a Colorado opponent this season.
“It seemed like they couldn’t miss,” Wright said. “But we kind of expected it, we knew how good they were and how hard they play.”
HE SAID IT
“I kind of wanted to make a statement. Not just for me but the rest of the guys as well. Let everyone know that we should be here,” UIC’s Blount said. “Obviously we wanted to win and we’re quite upset, but I think we changed a few people’s minds about who we are and the identity that we’re trying to go forward with.”
Colorado’s backup freshman point guard Daylen Kountz did not play in the second half. Kountz twisted his ankle in practice earlier this week and is expected to play in the Buffaloes’ next game
Colorado: The Buffaloes have won five straight games and join Arizona State as the only 7-1 teams from the Pac-12.
Illinois-Chicago: The Flames remain winless on the road this season. Last season UIC had a nine-game win streak on the road.
Colorado: The Buffs head to New Mexico to take on the Lobos on Tuesday in the first game of a six-game road trip to end their nonconference slate and begin their Pac-12 play.
Illinois-Chicago: The Flames return to Chicago for a matchup at intracity rival DePaul on Friday.
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