The Colorado Buffaloes bounced back in a major way after their disappointing loss at Oregon on Thursday. There was no hangover as the Buffs beat down the Oregon State Beavers, winning 69-47 in a dominant two-way performance.
Like most games in Corvallis, this started out physical, gritty and sloppy. The game was almost hilariously slow to get started, as the teams were tied 4-4 at the under-16 media timeout. That’s just how things go between these teams — both are defensive-minded teams that have all the answers for the other’s offense, Oregon State with their size and Colorado with their mistake-free defense.
The production Colorado got in the first half was mostly from Tyler Bey and Shane Gatling. Bey struggled badly in their loss to Oregon on Thursday, so a comeback performance was great to see. He held Tres Tinkle, the third highest scorer in the Pac-12, to just 2-8 shooting in the half, put up 10 points of his own on 4-5 shooting, and had 6 rebounds (and 4 turnovers) for good measure.
Colorado overtook Oregon State with Bey leading the way, then extended their way with Gatling getting hot. The senior guard is known for his streakiness, but when he’s on, he’s capable of carrying Colorado’s offense. The Buffs took a 24-16 lead after he made two threes and sank another mid-range pull-up. Gatling has stepped up this year in a supporting role, doing all the little things all the time, so it’s nice to see him do some of the glory work.
Colorado finished out the half leading 31-22. It wasn’t a great half of basketball, but if you can lead by 9 on the road in a low-scoring game, you take that every time.
Immediately after the half, the Buffs went on a commanding run to take a 38-24 lead. It was a team effort that built the lead and it was McKinley Wright making stars play. He emphatically swatted Tinkle’s layup — Tinkle is 8 inches taller than him, btw — and hit a floater immediately on the other end. They extended the lead to 14 on the following possession, when big Evan Battey sank a three.
Oregon State threatened by adjusting their defense to muck up Wright’s driving lanes, then turning defensive stops into scoring chances. That’s how the Beavers won in Boulder and it looked like it could be the recipe to steal this one as well. But just when it looked like they might close the gap, Wright hit a triple, then Maddox Daniels came in and hit one himself. Instead of OSU clawing back in, CU had a 47-32 lead. Colorado snuffed out their run before they could even get started.
From there, it was all Colorado. Their defense was simply too good for Oregon State to get any clean looks. They ended up shooting 33% from the field, 1-17 from three and 8-17 from the line (so maybe they were just off). That contrasted sharply with the Buffs shooting the lights out, as they ultimately scored 43 of their 69 points on threes and free throws. Bey was the star of the show as he finshed with 21 points and 15 rebounds, all while holding Tinkle to 3-15 shooting.
As the game wound down, it was easy to appreciate Tad Boyle on FS1’s fantastic all-access broadcast. Compared to a drill sergeant like Wayne Tinkle yelling at everyone besides his son, Boyle is the commensurate player’s coach, always listening to his veteran players. He trusts his guys to do their job, which is why he lets his players design the offense and why his former players love him so much. If there’s any positive to CU’s other coaching news, it’s that the fan base should be appreciating Boyle fully.
With this 69-47 win, the Buffs have another blowout road win on their resume as well as vengeance for their previous home loss. They remain in first place in the Pac-12 after splitting their most difficult week of the season. It’s unfortunate CU didn’t finish off Oregon, but we should be content with the split.
Next up is the last home series of the season. The Buffs host UCLA on Thursday and USC on Saturday. Colorado needs to sweep this series for their Pac-12 title hopes to stay, and it should happen, but we will see soon enough.