Jabari Walker, No. 5 Colorado Rout No. 12 Georgetown 96-73 in NCAA Tournament

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistMarch 20, 2021

Colorado guard McKinley Wright IV (25) celebrates with forward Evan Battey (21) in the first half of a first-round game against Georgetown in the NCAA men's college basketball tournament at Hinkle Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, Saturday, March 20, 2021. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)
Michael Conroy/Associated Press

Colorado moved through the first round of the 2021 NCAA tournament with a dominant 96-73 win over Georgetown on Saturday at Hinkle Fieldhouse in Indianapolis.

The fifth-seeded Buffaloes used an early 10-0 run to take control of the game at 17-7, and they increased their advantage to 24 points at halftime on the strength of 11 threes. They were on cruise control from there to punch their ticket to the round of 32.

Georgetown, coached by alumnus Patrick Ewing, won the Big East tournament to earn their first March Madness appearance since 2015. The Hoyas entered the event as a No. 12 seed and as one of the nation's hottest teams, with eight victories in their past 10 contests after a sluggish 5-10 start.


Notable Stats

Jabari Walker (CU): 24 points on 9-of-10 shooting

D'Shawn Schwartz (CU): 18 points

McKinley Wright IV (CU): 12 points, 13 assists, 5 rebounds, 0 turnovers

Qudus Wahab (GU): 20 points, 12 rebounds

Jamorko Pickett (GU): 11 points, 6 assists


Jabari Walker Sparks Colorado

Every coach dreams of a player who can change the complexion of a game off the bench, and that's what Walker did Saturday afternoon.

It was a sluggish start from both sides, as Colorado held a slight 9-7 lead after six minutes. Walker delivered a dunk and a three on back-to-back possessions. Wright added another triple after a defensive stop, and the Buffs were off and running.

Walker finished the first half with 14 points (four threes), three rebounds and two blocks as part of a terrific all-around effort.

Bleacher Report @BleacherReport

Colorado’s Jabari Walker is BALLING vs. Georgetown The freshman’s father is NBA champ Samaki Walker 🏆 https://t.co/mnoZJXtsxY

The freshman forward has battled inconsistency throughout his first year in Boulder, and his minutes fluctuated as a result. He saw just 38 minutes of playing time combined during the team's run to the Pac-12 tournament final last week.

There were occasional flashes throughout the season when his potential to become a high-impact player were on display, though.

Bleacher Report @BleacherReport

COLORADO CAN’T MISS 🎯 Buffaloes have 11 threes. Georgetown only has eight total field goals. https://t.co/BxqLylK7hy

Most notably, he compiled 49 points and 29 rebounds during a three-game winning streak over Pac-12 rivals Utah, Cal and Stanford in mid-January.

So head coach Tad Boyle turned to Walker on Saturday with the team needing a quick boost. He provided that and more as the Buffaloes kept their March Madness run alive.


Georgetown Defense Collapses

The Hoyas' defense stole the show in the Big East tournament. They held three of their four opponents under 60 points, including a 73-48 rout of 17th-ranked Creighton in the title game despite playing their fourth game in as many days.

That type of defensive efficiency wasn't on display to open the NCAA tournament. Colorado had a stream of open looks from three-point range in the first half, and to their credit, they took full advantage to build an insurmountable lead before the halftime horn even sounded.

ESPN Stats & Info @ESPNStatsInfo

Colorado hit 11 threes in the 1st half today against Georgetown. Only 2 teams have had more in any half in the last 10 NCAA tournaments: Villanova in the 2018 Final Four, and Auburn in the 2019 Sweet 16. https://t.co/YHkS4N8I0r

It was more of a systemic breakdown than an issue that could be pinpointed on any player.

The Buffs did a tremendous job of getting the ball into the paint and then making an extra pass or two on the perimeter after it was kicked out to create those clean looks. The Georgetown rotations weren't quick enough, and on a couple of occasions, there wasn't a closeout at all.

One poor performance doesn't take away the Hoyas' memorable run to the Big East title or erase a season of progress under Ewing, who's started to gain his footing as a coach after stepping into the unenviable role of replacing the legendary John Thompson III in 2017.

Bleacher Report @BleacherReport

Every player in the tournament got a copy of John Thompson’s memoir 🙏 https://t.co/gnGa69mlQM

Nevertheless, it's a disappointing result after expectations of a deep March Madness run spawned based on their strong play last weekend.


What's Next?

Colorado advances to face the winner of the ongoing game between No. 4 seed Florida State and No. 13 seed UNC Greensboro in the second round on Monday.

Georgetown heads into the offseason after posting a 13-13 record during the 2020-21 season.