The Colorado Buffaloes already had a signature win and they just got another 12 days later. The Buffs defeated #4 Oregon Ducks in an intense game that CU led for all of 32 minutes. It was tense, it was tight, but Colorado was prepared to fight.
From the very start, the Buffs were there to ball out. They struggled to shoot just because they were so excited, but you could tell early this would be a high-quality, high-stakes basketball game with a roaring crowd. Everyone was here from Phillip Lindsay to Sabatino Chen, because these are the games we live for.
Once the Buffs settled in, they took control with their elite defense. Oregon has a Top 10 offense nationally, but the Buffs suffocated them with brilliant team defense. They just work so hard it’s impossible not to notice. They contest everything without fouling, grab every rebound (shouts to Tyler Bey) and control the pace of the game. This Colorado team can win without hitting shots, even against the best teams. The defense is that good.
After taking a 28-22 halftime lead, the Buffs came out with their hair on fire in the second half. They leaned into the atmosphere, hit ballsy shots and continued their defensive excellence. The crowd was electric, screaming at every make, yearning with every miss, and jawing the refs at every whistle. (Mel Tucker was shown on TV yelling at the refs, bless his heart.)
Colorado took a 41-26 lead after a play that summed up CU’s effort: Oregon found an open look, but D’Shawn Schwartz closed out on him, then McKinley Wright grabbed the contested rebound, ran out onto the break, and found Schwartz for an open three. The crowd erupted, then just about destroyed the arena on Bey’s monstrous alley-oop moments later.
Oregon was always going to adjust and they were always going to make a run. On offense, they spaced the floor and attacked the Buffs in space to get open looks at the rim. On defense, they used a full-court press to speed up the game flow. Those adjustments worked, and that was before the Ducks got hot.
Oregon made eight straight shots to cut the CU lead down to 51-47, but that’s as close as they got. Every time Oregon landed a blow, the Buffs hit back. It started with a Wright put-back dunk (!), then Lucas Siewert hit a clutch three, then Wright hit a contested pull-up three. The Buffs just had to survive that run and they did with those shots.
After the four-minute mark, it was all Colorado down the stretch. After Schwartz and Wright each made layups, Schwartz hit a three to build the lead to 12. That was the dagger delivered straight to the heart of Dana Altman, who must realize he will never win a game in this godforsaken arena. The Buffs finished off the game with free throws, settling into a 74-65 win. The fans stormed the court even though Colorado was favored to win the game.