Buffs Top Stanford In Pac-12 Opener
BOULDER — Colorado's Evan Battey scored a career-high 22 points Sunday and the Buffaloes recovered from a slow start to collect an 80-76 win over Stanford in their Pac-12 opener at the CU Events Center.
Tad Boyle's Buffs improved to 6-1 overall while Stanford dropped to 4-3.
Battey, who surpassed the 1,000-point mark for his career, was 4-for-4 from 3-point range as part of his 22-point night. CU's Jabari Walker had his third straight double-double and fourth of the season with 12 points and 13 rebounds, Tristan da Silva added 13 points, K.J. Simpson had 12 and Keeshawn Barthelemy added 10 to give the Buffs five players in double figures.
Spencer Jones led Stanford with 15 points. CU's Tristan da Silva had a stellar defensive night against Cardinal leading scorer Harrison Ingram, holding him to eight points on 3-for-13 shooting.
Colorado fell behind early, 21-10, but used an 18-2 run to take the lead and carried a 37-32 edge into halftime. Stanford regained the lead with a 9-0 run to start the second half but Colorado went back ahead three minutes later and held the lead until the Cardinal finally tied the game again, 66-66, with just under four minutes to play.
But the Buffs responded one more time with a 7-0 run to take the lead for good and clinched the win with five free throws in the final 36 seconds.
Stanford shot 50 percent for the game (26-for-52) and outrebounded CU, 32-28. But the Buffs shot 49 percent from the floor (27-for-55) and hit 19 of their 26 free throws. CU also forced 15 Stanford turnovers, converting them into 12 points.
Five of the Buffs' seven games this year have been decided by single digits, including two overtime contests.
"Another hard-fought win that went down to the wire," Boyle said. "It was closer than it probably needed to be. Stanford's a good team. They've got good players … Our defense and rebounding was not good enough to win tonight. But our offense won the game. We shared the ball, and we moved the ball. I was really pleased with our offensive effort tonight."
HOW IT HAPPENED: Colorado led by five at intermission, 37-32, but the Cardinal scored the first nine points of the second half to retake the lead, 41-37.
CU, though, regained control with a 7-0 run that saw Battey hit a bank shot off the glass and a 3-pointer, sandwiched around a Simpson layup, to give CU a 51-44 lead.
Battey's fourth 3-pointer of the night gave him 999 career points, and he surpassed the 1,000 mark a few minutes later with a bucket inside.
"I'm very blessed to have teammates who pass me the ball and teammates who were willing to throw it to me in the post, kick it out to me," he said. "It's all because of my teammates. I score because of my teammates and I'm grateful."
The Cardinal, though, wouldn't go away. Stanford stayed within striking range and with 3:58 to play, a Spencer Jones 3-pointer tied the game at 66-66.
"We have to take 3-point shots away from shooters," Boyle said. "We're not good enough at that yet."
But the Buffs did have an answer on the offensive end. Following a timeout, Colorado reeled off seven straight points, getting an Elijah Parquet layup, a Walker offensive rebound and putback and a Tristan da Silva 3-pointer off a beautiful drive and dish from Battey. The run gave Colorado a 73-66 lead with 1:49 to play.
Stanford did manage to cut CU's lead to two, 75-73, with 36 seconds to play before Keeshawn Barthelemy hit two free throws to bump the cushion back to four.
The Buffs then held on for the win in the final seconds, hitting three more free throws in the final seconds.
"With each close game you win, you become a little bit more confident down the stretch," Boyle said. "We've got to learn how to extend leads when we have them or not fall down 21-10 like we did. We're up five at half, and they come out and score the first seven points of the second half. We have to call a timeout. We just have to become more consistent, and we're just not there yet. At some point, it's going to cost us a game so we better figure that out."
Colorado started slowly on both ends of the floor and eight minutes in, Stanford held a 21-10 lead. The Cardinal hit seven of its first 10 field goals, including three 3-pointers, while the Buffs went scoreless in the first three minutes, missing four field goal tries and turning it over twice.
But following a timeout, the Buffs found their rhythm. Walker started an 18-2 run with a bucket from the key before Battey hit two free throws, Walker scored on a follow-jam and Battey then delivered back-to-back 3-pointers for a 12-0 surge that gave Colorado a 22-21 lead.
Stanford momentarily stopped the run with a pair of free throws, but the Buffs then scored six straight to push their lead to 28-23.
CU's defense turned up the heat to fuel the run. Colorado held Stanford without a field goal for 6:30, forcing six turnovers in that stretch.
Colorado extended its lead to eight, 37-29, late in the half on a Simpson 3-pointer and Luke O'Brien free throw before Stanford hit a 3-pointer just before intermission to send the Buffs into the locker room with a 37-32 lead.
TURNING POINT: Stanford looked ready to seize momentum down the stretch when the Cardinal hit a 3-pointer to tie the game with just under four minutes to play. But the Buffs emerged from a timeout to get a layup from Elijah Parquet, a Walker putback and a da Silva 3-pointer to take control. CU held the lead the rest of the game.
WHAT IT MEANS: The Buffs start out Pac-12 play on the right foot and take some momentum into two games against nationally ranked foes: at UCLA on Wednesday and home against Tennessee on Saturday.
KEY STATISTICS: CU forced 15 Stanford turnovers and committed only six … The Buffs were 19-for-26 from the free throw line, including a crucial 11-for-13 in the second half … CU had a 17-7 edge in fast break points and a 40-30 edge in the paint.
NEXT UP: The Buffs travel to Los Angeles on Wednesday for a 7:30 p.m. Pac-12 matchup with UCLA at Pauley Pavilion (Pac-12 Networks).