The Colorado Buffaloes finally did the impossible and beat a team they’re better than. Despite struggling down the stretch, the Buffs managed to defeat the previously undefeated Yale Bulldogs, 65-62.
The Buffs started strong thanks in large part to Tristan da Silva’s aggressiveness as a scorer and initiator. The 6’10 junior can get a bucket pretty much whenever he wants, but it seems that he doesn’t know how good of a scorer he really is. He scored 20 points today in a variety of ways, getting to the basket, hitting pull-up jumpers and finishing maybe the most impressive layup since Alec Burks.
Although Lawson Lovering closed down the paint, the Bulldogs were able to keep up with hot three-point shooting. When the Buffs looked like they might wrestle early control and coast, Yale hit four consecutive threes, three of them coming from John Poulakidas on the best night of his young career. After a last second jumper by Assif Basa-Ama, the Buffs led 38-28 at half — not bad, but they looked far the better team at this point.
While the Buffs controlled the game in the first half, everything flipped after half time. Yale slowed down the pace, played patient offense and made the most of the quality shots they generated. Poulakidas kept hitting shots, Matt Knowling had a some great finishes and their offense hummed along.
At the same time, the Buffs could no longer run off misses and the offense looked horrible once the pace slowed. Regardless of who was on the court, they looked listless, uncreative and at times desperate. It didn’t help that they missed seven consecutive threes and that some veteran players were missing easy chances. The only good thing that happened was J’Vonne Hadley bringing tremendous energy and sparked an 8-0 run after Yale had cut the lead down to 2.
Colorado won in the end, somehow. It was certainly fortunate that Julian Hammond made a wild layup in traffic and that Bez Mbeng threw away two passes when Yale needed a basket to go ahead or tie. But a win is a win and there was enough positive stuff — mainly Hadley and da Silva, the inevitable defensive improvement after Tad Boyle tears into them this week — to be alright with the result.