Colorado is off to its best start since winning its first seven games of the 2019-20 season.
The No. 18 Buffaloes are cooking early this season and they seek to improve to 5-0 when they face Florida State on Tuesday in the championship game of the Sunshine Slam’s Beach Bracket at Daytona Beach, Fla.
Colorado reached the title game by beating Richmond 64-59 on Monday. The Seminoles (3-1) advanced with an 83-75 win over UNLV.
The Buffaloes won their first three games by an average of 25.7 points so the contest against the Spiders represented their first true test of the season.
Richmond held the lead past the midway point of the second half before KJ Simpson’s 3-pointer with 8:27 left put Colorado ahead to stay.
“We needed that,” Buffaloes coach Tad Boyle said. “We needed to face a little bit of adversity.
“They had a good game plan and we had to fight through some things, but I thought our guys showed a lot of grit and a lot of toughness on a night where we weren’t as good offensively as we’ve been. Richmond had a lot to do with that, but our guys kept grinding.”
Colorado shot just 3 of 10 from 3-point range after entering the game hitting a sizzling 51.7 percent (31 of 60) from behind the arc.
Simpson scored a season-high 23 points for the second straight game to increase his team-best average to 20 per game. He is shooting 61.9 percent from the field and is 8 of 16 from behind the arc.
Tristan da Silva is 10 of 19 from 3-point range and shooting 61 percent overall. He is averaging 16.5 points after having 15 against the Spiders.
“We had to work for everything we got out there,” da Silva said. “We faced some adversity and overcame it. If we’re not shooting the ball well, we have to lean on our defense and rebounding.”
Florida State bounced back from an 89-68 loss to Florida on Friday to post a wire-to-wire victory over UNLV. The Seminoles led by as many as 16 points.
Jamir Watkins matched his season high with 19 points on 8-of-11 shooting and had a career-best eight assists in a strong showing against the Rebels.
Watkins is off to a solid start with the Seminoles after transferring from VCU to play for veteran coach Leonard Hamilton.
Watkins is second on the squad in scoring at 13.3 per game, tied for the team rebounding lead at 4.8 and is averaging a team-best 4.5 assists.
“Coach Ham allows all of us to show our abilities and show our versatility,” Watkins said recently. “He allows us to play our offense and gets on us about really playing hard on defense.”
Darin Green Jr., who scored 16 points against UNLV, leads the Seminoles with a 13.5 scoring average. Cameron Corhen, who scored 14 against the Rebels, is averaging 13 points and shooting 59 percent from the field.
The programs met in the second round of the 2021 NCAA Tournament with fourth-seeded Florida State routing fifth-seeded Colorado 71-53.