Wright takes over late, Colorado beats No. 4 Oregon 74-65
BOULDER, Colo. (AP) — McKinley Wright IV received a little pep talk from none other than himself.
“I told myself I had to get going,” he said of his second-half inner monologue.
Wright listened to Wright.
The junior guard scored 11 of his 21 points in the final five minutes and Colorado beat another ranked team, taking down No. 4 Oregon 74-65 on Thursday night.
“I love moments like that,” said Wright, who also had eight assists. “I like having the ball in my hands to make plays for myself and my teammates.”
Tyler Bey added 15 points and grabbed 14 rebounds as the Buffaloes (12-2, 1-0 Pac-12) improved to 9-0 all-time against the Ducks (11-3, 0-1) in Boulder.
Now that’s a record hard to imagine. Wright can’t explain it, nor can Oregon coach Dana Altman.
“It’s just one of those things they have a good team,” said Altman, whose team was 3 of 18 from 3-point range. “One of the best home courts. It’s a tough place to play.”
Colorado moved to 2-1 against ranked teams this season, which includes a win over Dayton in Chicago on Dec. 21 and a loss to then-No. 2 Kansas on Dec. 7. Colorado is now 19-32 under coach Tad Boyle versus teams in the AP Top 25 since he took over in 2010-11. He accounts for 30% of Colorado’s 63 wins over ranked opponents since 1949-50.
“This is a special team,” Boyle said. “We have great kids in that locker room. It’s a special group.”
This was a matchup between the teams picked to finish first (Oregon) and second (Colorado) in the Pac-12 preseason media poll. Round 1 went to Colorado, which despite being unranked was a 1 1/2-point favorite.
In the mind of Wright, a message was sent.
“We thought we were the best team in the conference,” he said. “We wanted to showcase that tonight.”
They did. All part of the process.
“Respect cannot be learned, purchased or acquired. It can only be earned,” said Boyle, whose team has that mantra posted in their film room. “We have to earn that respect.”
Colorado built a 15-point lead early in the second half on an alley-oop, fast-break dunk by Bey. But Oregon began to steadily chip away.
Bey had a big block of Anthony Mathis with 4:34 remaining, but was given a technical foul for taunting. Mathis made both free throws to make it 57-53. Wright hit a 3-pointer to restore some breathing room.
“Got the crowd back into it. We needed that,” Boyle said. “Big players make big plays.”
The noise was at a frenzied level despite the students being on winter break, and the fans ran onto the court after the final buzzer.
“That was a high-level college basketball game,” Boyle said. “It was as good as advertised.”
The Ducks had their five-game winning streak halted on a night when they struggled at times to run their offense.
Payton Pritchard had 21 points to lead Oregon, while Chris Duarte added 10.
“Just one of those nights,” Altman said.
Oregon: Boulder, Colorado, continues to haunt the Ducks, who were out-rebounded 36-34.
Colorado: Defense has been the Buffs’ calling card all season. They fed off of it all evening as they led for over 30 minutes.
THIS & THAT
D’Shawn Schwartz finished with 13 points. ... Former Colorado football standout and current Denver Broncos tailback Phillip Lindsay was in attendance and given a round of applause when he was introduced. ... The attendance was 10,770.
Boyle wasn’t pleased with Bey picking up a technical for taunting.
“There’s no room for that,” Boyle said. “Unacceptable.”
OFF FROM DEEP
Oregon entered the game averaging nearly nine made 3-pointers a game. The Ducks didn’t make their first 3-pointer until the second half.
“We had some good looks and didn’t knock them down early,” Altman said.
ELITE COMPANY, PART I
The Ducks have their men’s basketball, women’s basketball and football teams all currently ranked in the top seven of the AP polls.
ELITE COMPANY, PART II
Oregon’s appearance at No. 4 matches its highest ranking in the AP poll, although the Ducks are likely to drop next week. The team also was No. 4 in the Nov. 14, 2016, version of the poll. That team went on to reach the Final Four.
Oregon: At Utah on Saturday.
Colorado: Hosts Oregon State on Sunday.
More AP college basketball: https://apnews.com/Collegebasketball and https://twitter.com/AP_Top25