Johnson helps Colorado to 75-68 win over Air Force (Dec 19, 2016)

Colorado guard Derrick White, left, and Air Force center Frank Toohey fight for the ball during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Colorado Springs, Colo., Monday, Dec. 19, 2016. Colorado won 75-68. (Jerilee Bennett/The Gazette via AP)

AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. (AP) George King had a quandary on a breakaway late in a tight game: Dunk it or dribble the ball back out.

He slammed it. Wise choice, given the way Colorado was shooting free throws.

Xavier Johnson scored 14 points to lead five Colorado players in double figures, and the Buffaloes withstood some faulty foul shooting down the stretch to hold off Air Force 75-68 on Monday night.

”It’s always something with this team,” Colorado coach Tad Boyle said. ”But we found a way to win.”

That despite missing six straight free throws over the final 1:18 and being out-rebounded by a 38-33 margin. The free throws? The Buffs can fix that. The rebounding deficiency? Now that’s a growing concern since it’s the third time in four games Colorado has been beaten on the boards.

”Guess what? We’re going to play against bigger, more athletic teams than Air Force coming down the road,” Boyle said.

Freshman Deleon Brown scored eight of his 10 in the second half as the Buffaloes (9-3) extended their winning streak to seven in a row over Air Force.

CJ Siples had 15 points for Air Force (6-6), which has dropped six of seven after starting the season 5-0.

”We’re going to build off this and try to continue. We’re going to set the bar here,” Air Force senior guard Zach Kocur said. ”Never like to lose, but if we can learn from it that’d be good for us.”

Tied at 48 with just under 10 minutes remaining, Colorado went on a 23-10 run to gain some much needed breathing room. However, the Buffaloes couldn’t close out the Falcons from the line. Finally, King had a breakaway and wrapped up the win on his two-handed dunk with 26 seconds remaining.

”Honestly, I thought I should’ve pulled it out,” King said. ”Maybe I should’ve pulled it out and have them foul me.”

King absolutely made the right decision, Dominique Collier maintained.

”If he would’ve brought it out, I would’ve taken it from him,” Collier cracked.

BIG PICTURE

Colorado: Collier returned after missing the last nine games with a foot injury. He scored nine points in 19 minutes. Even more, he stabilized the offense in the first half when the Buffaloes were struggling. … Colorado leads the all-time series 23-3 over Air Force.

Air Force: The Falcons drop to 2-10 against the Pac-12 Conference since 1999. … Air Force came into the game averaging 79.8 points. ”Great effort from our guys, really proud of them,” Falcons coach Dave Pilipovich said.

FAMILIAR CITY

This was a homecoming of sorts for senior Derrick White, who began his career down the road at the University of Colorado-Colorado Springs. He was an All-American for the Mountain Lions, before transferring to Colorado. White sat out last season and has lived up to Boyle’s preseason hype. White is one of the Buffaloes top scoring threats this season. He had 12 points before fouling out with 1:28 remaining.

”I saw some people in the stands I (used to see) in the Springs,” White said. ”It was cool to come back here and have the people to support me.”

FROSH FACE

Brown provided quite a charge in the second half. He now has 25 points over his last two games after scoring 33 in his first 10.

”I feel like I’m starting to get more comfortable in the offense, playing within the flow of the game and getting to my spots,” Brown said.

TEAMMATES TURNED OPPONENTS

Siples knows King’s game very well. After all, they were once teammates on an AAU team.

”You know he has confidence. He’ll let you know he’s confident in himself,” Siples said. ”Obviously, you can see the way he plays. It was fun.”

UP NEXT

Colorado: Host Eastern Washington on Thursday.

Air Force: Host UC-Davis on Thursday.

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