The Colorado Buffaloes entered Thursday night hoping for one of the most important wins in program. They had their chance to beat the Oregon Ducks, but ultimately faltered in the second half, losing 68-60.
Colorado’s best chance to beat Oregon was for them to start hot and set the tone early. That didn’t happen. The Ducks opened with full court trap that really bothered the Buffs. Because McKinley Wright is the only ball-handler, it is nearly impossible to break the press, set up a functioning and get clean looks. The Buffs were turnover prone, couldn’t get to their spots and were mostly out of sync. The only positive was that Oregon themselves struggled with giveaways, so Colorado trailed just 16-10 after 8 minutes.
After the U-12 timeout, everything clicked for the Buffaloes. Wright started it out by hitting a couple jumpers, then Evan Battey and Tyler Bey got in on the action. Then after an Oregon timeout, Lucas Siewert, Shane Gatling and D’Shawn Schwartz all hit threes. With excellent team defense to pair that hot shooting, the Buffs went on a massive 20-0 run to take command of the game. That’s an insane run, the third largest unanswered run in CU history. That’s even more impressive on the road against an opponent of Oregon’s caliber.
The Buffs built a 30-16 lead before Oregon woke up from their coma. They did close the gap a bit — turnovers by the role players hurt CU in this stretch — but Colorado still had a strong 35-26 lead at the break.
Oregon was always going to make a run. Because they used the full court press off made shots, that run would come once they started hitting. Led by Will Richardson’s quick shots, they cut the lead to 43-40. Colorado was able to answer with back-to-back threes by Schwartz and Siewert, but Oregon had their blueprint for the come back.
Colorado struggled badly with turnovers. It was the same story as at the beginning of the game, only Oregon was making shots this time around. Battey and Wright threw away some passes, the team had multiple shot clock violations, and poor Tyler Bey couldn’t finish at the rim. To make things even worse, the Buffs struggled on the defensive glass and allowed 13 second chance points in the half.
After five minutes of back-and-forth play, the Ducks went on a 12-0 run to take a 65-58 lead. The Buffs could not handle the pressure and perpetually made mistakes with the ball. No one on CU wanted to shoot the ball, not until they had to heave something at the end of the shot clock. Oregon, meanwhile, started cooking with Richardson and Pritchard leading the way.
Oregon finished off the game, winning 68-60. Colorado had that massive run in the first half, but it was all Ducks in the second half. This is a demoralizing loss, but at the end of the day, we can’t be too upset about losing close in Eugene. The Buffs are still first in the Pac-12, but they will need to bounce back against Oregon State on Saturday.