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K.J. Simpson plays hero in Colorado win over Stanford

The Buffs won behind Simpson’s 31 points.

NCAA Basketball: Colorado at Stanford John Hefti-USA TODAY Sports

We learned a valuable lesson in Colorado’s 73-70 win over Stanford, and it is that K.J. Simpson is him.

The sophomore guard erupted for 31 points, 7 rebounds and 4 assists. Maybe he played a bit too much hero ball — 23 shots is certainly something — but the Buffs needed everything Simpson had to get that road win. He carried the Buffs down the stretch, scoring their last 11 in the game, including the go-ahead layup with 18 seconds left and the final free throws to seal the win.

Aside from Simpson’s career night, the Buffs had great performances from Lawson Lovering and Luka Obriencic Luke O’Brien. Lovering was aggressive on offense and captained a solid CU defense that did their best to force the Cardinal into shooting 7/23 (30.4%) in the second half. The only way they could score was to flail their arms and hope to get the call, which they did seemingly every time. They converted 22/26 free throws and most of those were in the final ten minutes of the game.

O’Brien started slow, but he’s been heating up lately. After scoring 11 against CSU and 10 against Southern Utah, O’Brien put up another 12 last night. This he did by shooting 3/3 on three-pointers. Two of those shots were crucial for CU hanging around late — one stopped a Cardinal run, and the other cut the deficit to 63-62 with less than six minutes left.

This is very important win for the Buffs, who now move to 9-5 on the season and 1-2 in Pac-12 play. The Cardinal played better than their 5-7 (now 5-8) record, but CU really needed this before heading over to the 1-13 Cal Bears (12/31, 4:00 p.m. MT). The Buffs could use the road sweep to continue their positive momentum from the non-conference schedule and get back to .500 in Pac-12 play after early losses to Arizona State and Washington.