The University of Northern Colorado men’s basketball team kicked off its season Friday night in Boulder against the University of Colorado.
The Bears lost 66-51 on an off night all around, shooting just 6-37 from beyond the arc and committing 13 turnovers — 10 in the first half.
However, UNC showed promise, particularly on a 13-0 run to tie the game at 37 early in the second half.
But, the Buffaloes talent shone through in the end, pulling away late in the second half.
It was only the first of 31 games for the Bears this season, 18 of those coming against Big Sky Conference opponents.
The Bears are projected to finish fourth in the Big Sky Coach’s preseason poll and eighth in the media poll, while both polls project Idaho University to finish first.
The Bears will be eligible for the postseason after having to sit out last year due to self-imposed sanctions.
Junior point guard and Third Team All-Big Sky player Jordan Davis will be one of the leaders on the Bears roster. Davis started all 29 games last season and led the team in points at 19.3 per game and assists at 5.6 per game.
He led the Big Sky in assists and will have some new weapons at his disposal this season in Andre Spight and Anthony Johnson.
Johnson redshirted last season instead of playing in a season that couldn’t have ended in a postseason run.
The redshirt senior is back and is ready to help the Bears make it back to the Big Sky tournament.
Johnson was named All-Big Sky Honorable Mention his junior year in 2015-2016 and he averaged 15.8 points per game and scored 490 points, which was the third most in a season by a UNC basketball player.
Johnson has in-the-gym range and will be a great spark for the Bears to have back on the team for the upcoming season.
As for Spight, the redshirt senior sat out last season after having to honor the NCAA’s transfer rules.
The Arizona State-transfer played in 27 games for the Sun Devils in 2015-2016 and finished seven games in double figures.
In an exhibition game last weekend against Colorado State, Spight scored 25 points and added eight rebounds in the Bears 83-79 loss.
Spight will be an exciting player to watch this season and gives the Bears another weapon to use on offense.
Playing in the Pac-12 gave Spight some great experience that’ll should help him when playing in a smaller Division-1 conference like the Big Sky.
Some other names to watch are Tanner Morgan and Jonah Radebaugh.
Morgan joined Johnson in redshirting last year to not waste his Senior season.
In his first season with the Bears in 2015, Morgan started 19 games and averaged 4.3 rebounds per game. He is a forward and projects to be a big part of the Bears this season.
Radebaugh is the reigning Big Sky Defensive Player of the Year and will be tasked with guarding the opposing teams best player night in and night out. Radebaugh led the Bears in minutes played last season and brings energy on both the defensive and offensive end of the court.
Other potential contributors for the Bears include redshirt junior Chaz Glotta and redshirt senior Tyler Loose.
Loose played in 28 games for the Bears last season and gave head coach Jeff Linder some great guard depth off the bench.
Glotta started in 24 games last season and is a sweet-shooting lefty who loves the three ball. Glotta averaged 11.3 points per game last season and led the Bears in three-pointers made with 77.
Northern Colorado opens home play at 7 p.m. Wednesday night when it welcomes UC Davis to Bank of Colorado Arena.