Death, taxes and Colorado blowing the doors off of Oregon at the CU Events Center. Tad Boyle remains undefeated against the Ducks at home after a 68-41 win that was over after ten minutes of play.
The Buffs were without star guard K.J. Simpson tonight — a combination of an ankle injury and illness, per Mark Johnson — but they had no problem scoring early on. For as good as Simpson is, he does get a bit trigger happy and the Buffs moved the ball selflessly in his absence. Perhaps it was a product of the pass-first Julian Hammond running point guard, or Oregon playing a zone defense that necessitated a string of passes for every open look. Regardless, it worked brilliantly and the Buffs hardly had to sweat to create clean shots.
Even as the offense hummed, the real star of the game was the CU defense. The Buffs were torched by the Cal Bears last time out and it’s clear Tad Boyle ripped into them during practices this week. Even with a touchy whistle, the Buffs completely shut down the Ducks offense by fronting the post, making clean rotations and contesting every shot. The team has lacked defensive effort as of late, but they put it all out there. The Ducks have not looked like the perpetual contenders Dana Altman usually produces, but it’s still impressive that CU held them to 24% from the field in the first half and 27% in the game.
Colorado leading Oregon 37-19 isn’t that far from previous games. Usually the Ducks at least make a comeback attempt, but tonight, not so much. The Buffs somehow upped their defensive intensity, especially Hammond, who had a tremendous help-side block and had two steals, all three plays leading to easy points in transition. The defensive dominance also happened despite Lawson Lovering playing just 20 minutes due to foul trouble. Boyle had to run small-ball lineups with da Silva at the five, but somehow they worked even with the bevy of five-star bigs Oregon had on the court. (Those bigs — N’Faly Dante, Nate Bittle and Kel’el Ware — combined for 7 points on 13 shots.)
Speaking of da Silva, my goodness, he is a wonderful player. He had scored 18 points per game in the last 7 games of non-con, but went quiet during the trip to the Bay Area. Thankfully aggressive TSD is back and he had a career high 30 points. He hit a few threes, including a face-up against usual CU nemesis Quincy Guerrier, and his usual assortment of euro-steps, post-spins and smart passes. For good measure, his final bucket came when he pump-faked Guerrier out of his shoes and yammed on poor Ethan Butler.
TRISTAN DA SILVAAAAA— Colorado Men's Basketball (@CUBuffsMBB) January 6, 2023
I already wrote nice things about Hammond but it’s worth he also had a career high 16 points. Colorado kids Nique Clifford and Luke O’Brien also played great, the former scoring 13 and the latter with a career high 11 rebounds (it helps Oregon missed 38 shots lol).
After this 27-point win, the Buffs will host Oregon State on Saturday at 7:30 PM. Knowing this CU team, we better buckle up for a tough game because the Beavers are really bad.