The Colorado Buffaloes were always going to have a tough game, win or loss, because nothing comes easy against these helter-skelter Oregon Ducks. They fought hard and nearly won on an off night, but it’s still a frustrating loss because of what could have been.
Colorado opened with exactly the right energy, taking it to their opponent and setting the tone with defense and rebounding. They were even making shots, particularly D’Shawn Schwartz and Jeriah Horne hitting early. It was classic Tad Ball early, something this team has strayed away from this season.
Oregon responded to the 16-5 deficit by digging in their heels on the defensive end. They are so big and so athletic that it causes problems for the Buffaloes offense. It didn’t help that the Buffs were cold from beyond the arc. They shot 3/15 from deep in the half and most of those were bad misses.
Colorado had a 32-25 lead early in the second half, but Oregon ramped up the defense pressure and the Buffs collapsed. This was an issue in their previous matchup in Boulder; we all knew the press was coming when Dana Altman wanted to take control of the game.
The Buffs were sped up, couldn’t find the open teammate until the double-team arrived and forced passes where there was none. That resulted in 11 turnovers in 11 minutes, most of which were live-ball giveaways that turned into transition points for the Ducks.
Buoyed by points off turnovers, Oregon took the lead mid-way through the half, then built it to an 8-point lead. The Buffs battled back once they settled down, and even tied the game at 48-48, then 53-53. McKinley Wright was great leading the offense into some great looks down the stretch.
The win was on the table, despite their 34% shooting and 17 turnovers, but the Buffs couldn’t hit the shots they needed. Evan Battey missed a bunny, Schwartz had a wide open three that would have taken the lead, and Oregon pulled away in the final minute.
The Buffs drop to 16-7 overall and 10-6 in Pac-12 play. This loss won’t hurt them in regards to the NCAA Tournament, but it does mean their conference title chances are done. Hopefully they keep up that energy going into Corvallis, because that would be enough to take a road game against Oregon State.