Even in these struggling days, the Colorado Buffaloes have still never lost to the Oregon Ducks in Boulder. Tonight was their largest ever defeat of the Ducks as they picked up the dominant 73-51 win.
From the very first basket, Colorado was in control. Thanks in large part to the newly refocused Tyler Bey, the Buffs started building on their lead. With every Bey dunk, and every forced Oregon miss, this looked more and more like the team Colorado was supposed to be in Year Two of this young core. They (pick-and-)rolled to an early 24-5 run in the first ten minutes. In that span, Bey had 13 points and 6 rebounds, including a put-back dunk that had the crowd in a frenzy.
Colorado extended that first half lead with a killer run in the final minutes. Oregon tried to up the defensive pressure — just as Stanford did in their second half comeback — but the Buffs adjusted after being shaken at first. They moved the ball around smartly, drove to the rim, and earned foul shots against the hacking Ducks. They shot 17-20 from the line, a massive improvement from Thursday night. (If only the Buffs had a few of those fall in their one-point loss to Oregon State.)
Bey ended up with 27 points (9-9 FG, 9-11 FT) and 10 rebounds, plus his intimidating snarling on defense. This comes immediately after Tad Boyle publicly calling him out for a lack of effort in uninspired performances against Stanford and Oregon State. The sophomore forward must have been jaded by those comments, as he was out there working his ass off in his domination. Bey showed that he can be the best player on the floor whenever he wants. If that Bey was there the past two games, CU would be riding a 4-game win streak. Hopefully, this game will be the turning point for him and the Buffs.
Outside of Bey, the Buffs never really found their shot — they ended up shooting just 43% from the field and 5-20 from three — but they knew they could win this game by being aggressive and smart on both ends of the floor. D’Shawn Schwartz would be the prime example here, as he shot just 2-7 from the field, but turned in an otherwise perfect game. As noted by quality tweeter Benjamin Burrows, Schwartz’s passing, movement off the ball and help defense were superb tonight. The same could be said for much of the team, who were patient moving the ball and always in good position defensively.
Oregon sure did shoot 31% from the field and 16% from three (CU had as many first half steals  as Oregon had made shots), but even if that is fluky, you can’t discredit the Buffs’ focused defense. The usual second half collapse never came because they never let up on defense. Tad has to be proud of this effort and it should be the bar this team will judge itself against.
Next up for the Buffs is a trip to Los Angeles to take on the middle UCLA Bruins (Wednesday, 7:00, Pac-12 Networks) and USC (Saturday, 8:00, ESPN/ESPN2). If the Buffs come out like they did tonight, they could sweep that series and turn around this season.