Colorado raced out to a big halftime lead, extended it early in the second half.
Then Arizona State made a run. Instead of folding, Colorado pushed back and will make the long journey home with a win.
McKinley Wright IV scored 17 points, Tyler Bey had 15 points and 12 rebounds, and Colorado pulled away to beat short-handed Arizona State 81-71 in Shanghai on Saturday.
“Our veteran leadership on the court, the fact that we’ve been in those situations before,” Colorado coach Tad Boyle said of the Buffaloes fighting back after Arizona State’s run. “We’ve got great resiliency and toughness.”
The Sun Devils and Buffaloes opened the season in Shanghai for the fifth year of the Pac-12’s Global Initiative. Though they’re conference teams, the game did not count in the Pac-12 standings.
Arizona State was at a disadvantage before it ever started, playing without forwards Romello White and Taeshon Cherry for violating team rules prior to the China trip.
Colorado took advantage by working the ball inside and getting to the rim early while building a 17-point lead.
The Sun Devils revved up their transition game during a big second-half run to tie it, but Colorado pulled away over the final 6½ minutes.
Wright finished with seven assists and five rebounds.
“Getting this win is huge for us and going to make our flight better tomorrow morning,” Bey said.
The Sun Devils made one big run but could not sustain much of a rhythm with White and Cherry sitting on the bench.
Remy Martin had 23 points, nine rebounds and seven assists to lead Arizona State. Rob Edwards added 20 points.
“I have high hopes for this team as the year moves forward,” Arizona State coach Bobby Hurley said. “Coming into the year when I watch in practice and have my full complement of players available, we’ve shown we can be a very potent offensive team. That didn’t happen for us tonight.”
Exploiting Arizona State’s lack of inside presence, the Buffaloes went on a 15-3 run while building a 42-29 halftime lead behind Schwartz’s 13 points. Colorado then stretched it to 17 in the opening minutes of the second half.
The Sun Devils finally got their up-tempo game going midway through the second half, getting out on the break and hitting 3s in transition during a 15-2 run to pull within 52-51.
Arizona State tied it and kept Colorado within reach until the Buffaloes used a 7-0 run to stretch the lead back to 10.
“We couldn’t get our momentum going with scoring,” Hurley said. “We’re a way better scoring team than we showed tonight. We got some pretty good looks from 3 and some of our guys that shoot it better and shown they can maybe didn’t have their best offensive night.”
Arizona State was able to make a run despite having two starting frontcourt players on the bench, but the lack of depth and size were too much to overcome. That shouldn’t be a problem when White and Cherry return.
Colorado showed off its depth and versatility to open the season with solid victory in China.
Arizona State hosts Central Connecticut State on Thursday.
Colorado hosts San Diego on Nov. 16.
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