Pac-12 Tournament: Colorado upends Oregon State in first round
LAS VEGAS – Roll Tad.
After a regular season plagued by injuries and inconsistency, the No. 10 seed Colorado men's basketball team looked rejuvenated in a 78-71 win over No. 7 seed Oregon State on Wednesday in the first round of the Pac-12 Men's Basketball Tournament at MGM Grand Garden Arena.
Senior guard Askia Booker sparked the Buffaloes with 14 of his 20 points in the second half, including a stretch in which he helped turn a 52-50 deficit with 13:17 left in the game to a 63-54 lead by the 9:02 mark after knocking down a pair of free throws followed by three treys. Sophomore Dustin Thomas added a layup during that stretch, but when Booker scored moments later, Colorado had a 65-56 advantage and Booker had 13 of Colorado's past 15 points.
This after Booker missed all five of his shots in the first half.
[Related photos: Pac-12 Men’s Basketball Tournament first round]
"In the first half, I wasn't ready to play. Plain and simple. There's no beating around the bush," he said. "That's why it's a 40-minute game and you have two halves and, thank God. I give the credit to my teammates because they kept the game close. They gave me an opportunity to get hot. And gave us some momentum, and that's when we ran away with the game pretty much."
The cushion was indeed all the Buffaloes needed on a night junior forward Josh Scott added 16 points and 14 rebounds, giving him his sixth double-double of the season and 21st of his career. Colorado shot 50 percent from the field and made a season-high 24 of 26 attempts from the free-throw line (92.3 percent).
By winning, the Buffaloes advance to the Pac-12 Tournament quarterfinals Thursday night at 6 p.m. PT against No. 2 seed Oregon. Fans can watch on Pac-12 Networks or with free access on Pac-12.com and Pac-12 Now.
In 2012, Colorado reeled off four wins in as many days to win the Pac-12 Tournamant during the event's final year in at Staples Center in Los Angeles.
To do it again, Buffaloes coach Tad Boyle said the players must separate one day from the next. They also will need to find ways to win without playing their best.
"When we came to Los Angeles and (Booker) was a freshman, we didn't come there with the idea of winning four games in four days," Boyle said. "We didn't come here with the idea of winning four games in four days. We came here with the idea of beating Oregon State. Now we have to figure out a way between now and 6 p.m. tomorrow night (to figure out) how we're going to beat Oregon. And we have to come out and do it."
In the first half Wednesday, Colorado was far from perfect. Oregon State sophomore guard Malcolm Duvivier paced the Beavers with 13 points, while junior guard Gary Payton II had nine. For the first 20 minutes, the Beavers moved the basketball well on offense and were efficient from the perimeter, knocking down 7-of-16 threes and shooting 45.5 percent from the field overall. Duvivier and Payton II both finished with 17 points, while junior forward Olaf Schaftenaar pitched in 16 and tied a career-high with four three-pointers.
Oregon State (17-14) usually plays at a deliberate tempo, but Colorado (15-16) controlled the pace and trailed just 40-38 at halftime largely because it was 14-for-14 from the free-throw line during that span. Scott was the Buffs' best weapon to counter the Beavers' 2-3 zone before Booker took over.
The latter moved to sixth on the school's career scoring list with 1,728 points, passing Stevie Wise.
Colorado's 78 points were the most Oregon State allowed in a game all season.
"We were scoring at a pretty good clip and so we lost our sense of urgency defensively," said Beavers coach Wayne Tinkle. "In fact, we apologized at halftime. I said, 'Gosh I shouldn't have said relax and enjoy it and go have fun' because we forgot to defend. It was nice that our guys scored better than we have most of the year, but defensively we weren't quite as locked in. And you got to give credit to Colorado. They are the team that was picked to finish third."
Scott led Colorado in the first half with 12 points and six rebounds. But in the opening minutes of the second, he was caught too far under the basket when Duvivier drove from the left wing and delivered an authoritative one-handed dunk.
The rest of the night belonged to the Buffaloes, who improved to 14-7 in postseason play over the past five years (10-3 in conference, 3-1 in NIT and 1-3 in the NCAA tournament).
"It's a new opportunity for us," Scott said. "Coming in here, we talk about it every day about being 0-0. I don't think any of us were happy with how the regular season went for our team. And so we kind of saw this as our time."