BOULDER, Colo. (AP) — Tyler Bey and McKinley Wright each scored 16 points and No. 23 Colorado leaned on a strong defensive effort to beat UC Irvine 69-53 on Monday night.
Colorado (3-0) pressured Irvine into 22 turnovers leading to 21 points for the Buffaloes, who have won all eight of their meetings with the Anteaters. It was the 17th win in Colorado's last 19 home games.
Bey spearheaded Colorado's defensive performance with six steals.
Collin Welp had 12 points to lead Irvine (3-2). Tommy Rutherford added 10 points.
With the Buffaloes leading 51-38, the Anteaters scored seven straight points capped by Eyassu Worku's fastbreak jumper to pull to within six points with 9:14 left to play.
But Maddox Daniels hit a 3-pointer from the corner to breakup the Anteaters' momentum and minutes later Bey shook loose in the paint for a dunk and Wright came back on the next possession to hit a jumper to give the Buffaloes an 11-point advantage with 6:06 remaining. Irvine could get no closer the rest of the way.
Colorado moved out to a 40-30 halftime lead, generating the double-digit lead at the break with a 14-2 run that included a breakaway dunk by Bey and a 3-pointer Daylen Kountz following consecutive turnovers by the Anteaters.
UC Irvine: When the Anteaters were able to get their shots away, they were relatively effective, making just under 40 percent of their attempts while converting 7 of their 14 tries from beyond the arc. But they struggled against Colorado's intense defense, which focused on pressuring the ball wherever it went.
Colorado: The Buffaloes showcased a strong defensive performance, running all over the floor to stay with the Anteaters and pressure them into mistakes. The turnovers by Irvine fueled Colorado's offense, allowing them to maintain a double digit advaqntage for much of the game.
UC Irvine: Heads to Las Vegas for a neutral site game against TCU on Thursday night.
Colorado: Takes on Wyoming in a neutral site game at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas on Sunday night, part of the MGM Resorts Main Event tournament.