FORT COLLINS, Colo. — Colorado freshman McKinley Wright IV proved the kind of damage he can do in a limited amount of time on Saturday.
Colorado State contained him just long enough.
J.D. Paige and Prentiss Nixon each scored 16 points and the Rams held on to beat the Buffaloes 72-63.
Che Bob had 11 points and Deion James added eight points and 10 rebounds for the Rams (4-4), who wasted much of a big lead in the second half — mostly at the hands of Wright — but held on to beat their in-state rival for a second straight year.
Wright led Colorado with 19 points, including 11 straight points in less than two minutes to help the Buffaloes cut a 17-point deficit to 63-57 with 5:26 remaining. The freshman carved the Rams inside and out during the spurt, hitting two 3s and converting an acrobatic 3-point play.
“Our goal was to contain him and for the first 25 minutes; we did that,” Nixon said. “He kind of got loose towards the middle of the second half.”
Colorado (6-1) closed the gap to 67-63 on Dominique Collier’s free throw in the final minute but couldn’t get any closer.
“They came out a lot higher and with much more emotion,” Wright said. “We didn’t match them until the seven-minute mark of the second half.”
Earlier, Nixon swished a 3 in the closing seconds of the opening half to give Colorado State a 38-35 halftime lead.
The Rams used a 10-1 run to go up 27-19 with 6:49 left in the period before Colorado countered with a 14-5 spurt to retake the lead at 33-32 with 1:38 left.
In the final minute of the half, Lorenzo Jenkins had successive boards to keep possession alive for the Rams and turned it into a 3-point play to make it 35-33. Tyler Bey had two free throws for Colorado to tie things, briefly. There were nine lead changes in the first half.
In the second, the Rams built a 17-point lead as Anthony Bonner’s 3 made it 63-46 with 7:40 remaining. Colorado State didn’t score from the field the rest of the way.
“I loved how hard we played the whole game, we just had some mental lapses,” Rams coach Larry Eustachy said. “We’re not used to being up 17 points.”
In the last 56 seconds, Colorado went 0 for 4 from the field and Colorado State pulled away, hitting 5 of 6 from the line.
“We didn’t execute in the last minute,” Wright said. “They did.”
Colorado: The early-morning start didn’t do any favors for the Buffaloes, who fell flat in the second half and struggled to match the Rams’ energy most of the way. Wright, though, proved once again the Buffs should be excited for his future.
Colorado State: The Rams, who lost Mountain West Player of the Year Gian Clavell and first-team all-conference forward Emmanuel Omogbo from last year’s team, got a confidence-boosting win over Colorado. They beat the Buffs 72-58 in Boulder last year.
WINNING THE BOARDS
The Rams won the battle on the boards 46-32. The Buffs came in outrebounding opponents by 9.5 through their first six games.
“We got manhandled from start to finish,” Colorado coach Tad Boyle said.
Colorado State finished with nine blocked shots. Nico Carvacho had four and Bob added three.
“The two keys for this game were getting outrebounded and the shot-blocking,” Boyle said. “CSU is not a shot-blocking team. They had nine blocked nine shots.”
Wright also led the team with eight rebounds. . Colorado State was 22 for 54 from the field, while Colorado was 24 of 61. . Collier had 10 points and George King added nine points and seven rebounds for the Buffaloes.
Colorado: Hosts New Mexico on Wednesday before traveling to No. 21 Xavier on Dec. 9.
Colorado State: The Rams have road games against Arkansas Tuesday and Oregon Friday.