Buffs Get Big Road Win At Oregon
EUGENE, Ore. — After two heartbreaking losses at home, Tad Boyle's Colorado Buffaloes weren't about to let an opportunity for a big win slip away on the road.
Instead, they seized the chance. The Buffs overcame a 15-point first-half deficit Tuesday and rallied to collect a critical Pac-12 road win, knocking off Oregon, 82-78, at Matthew Knight Arena.
The Buffs improved to 13-6 overall and 5-4 in Pac-12 play while the Ducks had their six-game win streak come to an end to fall to 12-7, 5-3.
The victory gave the Buffs their first Quadrant One win of the season, a critical piece of the NCAA's NET rankings, and came on the heels of narrow losses to USC and UCLA at home last week.
CU's Jabari Walker recorded his ninth double-double of the season with 24 points and 11 rebounds. Keeshawn Barthelemy added 19 points and four assists and Tristan da Silva had 15 points.
Quincy Guerrier led Oregon with 22 points.
The win was CU's first on Oregon's home floor since 2013 and ended a streak of 13 straight games between the two teams with the home team winning.
Colorado trailed by 15 early in the game, but managed to cut the deficit to five by halftime. The Ducks momentarily rebuilt their lead to nine early in the second half before CU began chipping away at the deficit.
The Buffs took their first lead of the game, 62-61, on an Evan Battey 3-pointer with 9:20 remaining, then went ahead for good with a 7-0 run that gave CU a 69-63 edge with 7:28 on the clock.
The Ducks cut Colorado's edge to three in the final seconds, but a Battey free throw with 4.9 remaining gave CU a four-point lead to clinch the win.
Colorado shot 58 percent from the floor in the second half (15-for-26) and finished with a 30-22 rebounding edge for the game.
"You have to find a way," Boyle said. "Our guys found a way tonight. I'm really proud of them. To win on the road after losing two heartbreakers at home, this team showed a lot of guts tonight."
HOW IT HAPPENED: The Buffs indeed needed every bit of poise they could muster after Oregon hit six of its first seven shots of the game to jump out to a 13-0 lead, a cushion the Ducks later extended to 20-5.
Colorado didn't help its own cause early, committing nine turnovers in the first half.
"They were making every shot," Boyle said. "You just have to weather the storm and you have to take care of the ball."
But despite the Ducks' big early run, the Buffs never blinked. They shaved the deficit to five by halftime, 42-37, then withstood another Oregon run early in the second half before beginning their winning rally.
"We talked at every timeout that we had to come back one possession at a time," Boyle said. "Our team figured out a way to come back and win tonight."
After Oregon rebuilt its lead to nine early in the second half, the Buffs responded with a 9-0 run to finally tie the game at 57-57 with 12:05 to play.
Walker had four points to start the run, including a putback dunk, before K.J. Simpson scored on a drive to the rim. Then, following Oregon's fourth straight empty possession, Simpson assisted on a da Silva three-point play.
After Oregon went back ahead two more times, Battey's 3-pointer gave CU its first lead of the game, 62-61, with 9:20 still to play. The Ducks then took the lead one more time, but Colorado responded with a 7-0 run to take 69-63 lead and the Buffs never trailed again.
Walker started the decisive run with a bucket inside on a Barthelemy assist before Barthelemy drove the lane for a basket. Colorado then forced an Oregon turnover and Barthelemy found an open Luke O'Brien for a 3-pointer to complete the run.
"We had a lot of great individual performances," Boyle said. "Jabari Walker was a beast. Luke O'Brien gave us some great minutes off the bench. Keeshawn Barthelemy had a great offensive night and hit some key free throws. We just had a lot of good efforts."
Colorado's defense came up big in the decisive stretch, forcing four Oregon turnovers and holding the Ducks to 1-for-8 shooting.
The Ducks finally ended their drought with four unanswered points to cut Colorado's lead to two, 69-67, but Colorado quickly answered with two free throws from Barthelemy and a Walker bucket to push the lead back to six, 73-67, with under four minutes to play.
But the Buffs went cold after Walker's basket. CU endured three straight turnovers in a two-minute span and Oregon finally converted, getting a Quincy Guerrier 3-pointer with 1:35 to play to cut the Buffs' lead to 73-70.
CU finally found its footing, getting a da Silva basket with 1:04 on the clock and two more Barthelemy free throws with 47 seconds left while stymying the Ducks on the defensive end to rebuild their cushion to seven.
The Buffs then made their free throws down the stretch to hold on for the win, including Battey's game-clincher with 4.8 seconds on the clock to make it a two-possession game.
CU finished 20-for-22 from the line.
Battey actually missed the first of his two free throws in the final seconds, but after a timeout, calmly swished the clincher.
"Coach Boyle was talking in the huddle about what we'd do if I missed," Battey said with a laugh. "But I wasn't paying a lot of attention. I knew I was going to make it."
The Ducks threatened to turn the game into a blowout early, jumping out to a 13-0 lead and extending the margin to 20-5 with 14:22 still to play.
The Buffs hit just two of their first nine shots from the floor while Oregon was 6 for its first 7. CU also didn't grab its first rebound until more than five minutes in.
But Colorado refused to go away quietly. CU slowly chipped away t the deficit and finally whittled it down to just five, 31-26, on a 3-pointer from Simpson and an offensive rebound and bucket from da Silva with 4:55 to play.
The Ducks briefly pushed their lead back to double digits, but Colorado had one more answer. Simpson, da Silva and Walker all had 3-pointers in a closing 11-4 run and Colorado trailed by just five at intermission, 42-37.
TURNING POINT: Just after Oregon threatened to regain control five minutes into the second half, the Buffs put together a 9-0 run to tie the game at 57-57. While the Ducks took the lead three more times in the ensuing minutes, Colorado never lost momentum and finally took the lead for good with a 7-0 surge.
WHAT IT MEANS: The victory was CU's first Quad One win in the NCAA's NET rankings in six opportunities. The NET rankings are a key metric for the NCAA Tournament committee, and the Buffs should have at least a couple more chances down the stretch, with Arizona and Oregon both scheduled to visit Boulder, as well as the Pac-12 tournament.
KEY STATISTICS: The Buffs shot 58 percent from the field in the second half (15-for-26) while holding Oregon to 45 percent (13-for-29) after halftime … CU was 20-for-22 from the free throw line … The Buffs were 8-for-15 from 3-point range … CU held a 30-22 edge on the boards, which yielded an 18-11 edge in second-chance points.
QUOTEWORTHY: "It's a great win, but we cannot be satisfied with this. We have to do everything we can to go get a win in Seattle." — CU head coach Tad Boyle
NEXT UP: The Buffs continue their three-game road trip to the Pacific Northwest on Thursday with a 9 p.m. game at Washington (Pac-12 Networks). CU then wraps up the trip with an 8 p.m. game Sunday at Washington State (FS1).