The Colorado Buffaloes dropped another close game on Thursday night, falling 75-69 to the Oregon Ducks in Eugene.
The Buffs faced a double-digit second half deficit and rallied for the comeback, but it fell short. Their comeback efforts showcased the strengths and weaknesses of the team, as they shut down the Ducks offense, only allowing contested jumpers and free throws. CU got some key buckets down the stretch — Tristan da Silva’s three cut the lead to 63-62 with two minutes left — but the offense sputtered out, partly due to poor shot selection.
Da Silva and Clifford were tremendous in this game. The German forward scored 18 points in the second half and 23 total along with 4 rebounds, 2 assists and 3 steals. Tad Boyle called him out for playing well at home but struggling on the road; this motivation tactic appeared to work. Hopefully he can continue this against Oregon State on Saturday.
Clifford, meanwhile, had a career-high 17 points and hit some important shots to start that comeback attempt. Tad didn’t call him out but it was clear that he was in danger of losing his starting spot, since he played just 11 minutes the previous game, just as Jalen Gabbidon returned from injury. Nique proving himself on this level would be a boon to a team that has lacked consistent wing play from anyone besides the hustle king Luke O’Brien.
After this loss, the Buffs drop to 12-10 on the season and 4-7 in Pac-12 play, good for 8th in the conference. This is a good basketball team (55th in KenPom) with an elite defense (20th best in the country). If they can cut down the turnovers — just 11 last night! — and hit some more threes, there’s no reason they can’t string together some wins down the stretch. They’re not going to make the NCAA Tournament but it would be huge for next season to find an offensive identity besides Tristan and KJ playing hero ball.