BOULDER Colorado coach Tad Boyle knew what he would see from Colorado Mines when he scheduled the Orediggers for an exhibition game with the Buffs.
Mines didn't disappoint. The Orediggers brought a disciplined offense, solid defense and some good outside shooting to the CU Events Center on Saturday, pushing the Buffs to the brink before Colorado finally walked away with a 66-57 win.
"Perfect," Boyle said of the matchup. "If we can play from the neck up like those guys, with our athleticism, and play with their discipline, we have a chance to be really, really good. It's an opportunity to learn, that's what these games are all about."
The Buffs got double-digit scoring from three players, led by a 16-point, 11-rebound effort from sophomore forward Tyler Bey. Sophomore point guard McKinley Wright, meanwhile, had 14 points and eight assists while junior big man Lucas Siewert chipped in 12 points.
Guard Ben Sonneffeld led Mines with 18 points.
HOW IT HAPPENED: The Buffs jumped out to an early edge, but Mines came back to take the lead with some solid outside shooting and key drives to the basket. The Buffs, meanwhile, struggled from the outside — hitting just nine of their 29 field goal tries in the first half — and trailed 33-27 at the half.
But CU finally caught fire seven minutes into the second half. Colorado put together a 10-0 run to take a 41-36 lead with 11:31 to play and never trailed again. CU then added another 10-0 run minutes later to take a 57-44 edge with 5:05 to go to basically put the game away. Mines managed to close the gap to seven at several junctures after that, but never came closer.
Wright fueled the final 10-0 surge with the final six points of the run, all on drives to the basket.
"What I'd like to see from our team is that sense of urgency that McKinley played with down the stretch be there from the jump," Boyle said. "I want to see that from McKinley from the get-go and for 40 minutes."
STARTERS: The Buffs took the floor with a starting lineup of Tyler Bey and Evan Battey up front and a three-guard trio of Shane Gatling, McKinley Wright and D'Shawn Schwartz.
Boyle said the starting lineup could depend on whether the Buffs want to play big or small. CU could easily insert 6-11 Lucas Siewert into the starting mix if they want to put some extra size on the floor.
"There's still some question marks on this team when it comes to who's going to be first guy off the bench, who's going to be second guy off the bench," Boyle said. "Are we going to play big, are we going to play small? We'll see how this plays itself out."
TURNING POINT: A 10-point CU run in the second half turned a 36-31 CU deficit into a 41-36 Colorado lead and the Buffs never trailed again.
CU STANDOUTS: Tyler Bey had a 16-point, 11-rebound double-double on 6-for-9 shooting. … McKinley Wright IV had 14 points, eight assists, three rebounds and no turnovers. … Lucas Siewert scored 12 points on 5-for-9 shooting, including 2-for-3 from 3-point range. … Namon Wright had eight rebounds. … D'Shawn Schwartz had five points and five rebounds.
KEY STATISTICS: The Buffs had a 48-36 edge on the boards, including 12-7 on the offensive glass. That helped Colorado to a commanding 16-3 edge in second-chance points … CU had eight turnovers in the first half, but just three after halftime. … After allowing the Orediggers to shoot 40.6 percent from the field in the first half, Colorado held Mines to just 28.6 percent after intermission.
BATTEY FINALLY PLAYS: The game marked the first time in a CU game uniform under the lights for redshirt freshman Evan Battey, and his first true game atmosphere in more than two years. Battey did not play his senior season in high school and then had to take an NCAA-mandated redshirt season last year — one that also saw him sidelined by a stroke episode near the holiday break.
While it wasn't an "official" game, it was nevertheless enough of a game atmosphere to give Battey a feel for what it will be like. He finished with seven points on 2-for-10 shooting and also had four rebounds, two steals and an assist.
"I've seen the way Evan has practiced. He didn't play exceptionally well tonight offensively, but I've seen how he's practiced and he'll be fine," Boyle said. "I can't imagine the emotions that were running through that kid's mind and his veins. I just want him to be the same guy in games that I see in practice."
NEXT UP: The Buffs open their regular season Nov. 13 with a 6 p.m. home game against Drake.