It was almost too easy for the Colorado Buffaloes in their 90-63 win over the 15th-ranked Miami Hurricanes on Sunday.
The Buffs traveled to Brooklyn to face a Canes team that just made the Final Four. What looked like a competitive turned into a boat race, however, as Tad Boyle’s five-out motion offense tore apart Jim Larranaga’s defense.
Colorado ran everything through Eddie Lampkin in the first half. The 6’11, 280-lbs. center was too big and too skilled for an undersized Miami defense. He posted up (and too small’d) poor Norchad Omier, made some nifty passes to cutters, and set some of the meanest screens you’ll ever see. This was his best game as a Buff and a sign more things to come as he looks fully recovered from his offseason back surgery.
That size advantage wasn’t limited to Lampkin in the post. Colorado was without Cody Williams, so they leaned hard into the J’Vonne Hadley and Luke O’Brien pairing that is constant energy on defense and on the boards. Going big ran the risk of losing containment on Miami’s guards, but they made up for any disadvantage by dominating the boards.
While the Buffs looked like the better team, the Canes went on a strong run at the end of the first half to trailed just 37-36 at the break. They continued from there and built a 46-43 lead with 16 minutes left to play. This is a very skilled team that relies on jumpers, so at some point they started falling for Kyshawn George and Woogla Poplar. Matthew Cleveland also found some success driving to the rack.
Colorado still looked good during that Miami run. Shots just started falling for the Canes while the Buffs just missed a few of the good looks they were creating. If things held like this, it would be competitive game where the more experienced Canes would have gained confidence down the stretch.
Tristan da Silva put all that to rest when he took over in the final ten minutes of the game. His shot was off, but he was decisive attacking the basket and scrounged from points off post-ups. Once he got going, he was rolling. The threat of his drive opened up all kinds of passing lanes for him to find teammates cutting to the basket. (Miami also looked like they had never before seen a backdoor cut.) He ended up one assist shy of a triple double, as he put up 22 points, 10 rebounds and 9 assists.
Speaking of, the Buffs assisted 28 of their 37 made field goals. That ties the mark for most assists in the Tad Boyle era, a record they set earlier this season in their blowout of Grambling. (Miami is just a lil better than Grambling.) Tad Boyle has built a beautiful offense of cuts, screens and high post passing that generates all sorts of layups and open threes. And this was a bad shooting performance at 10 am MT against a top-15 team! Crazy times.
Next up for CU is a home game against the Northern Colorado Bears. This should be a 25-point blowout, but the Buffs are the Buffs and struggle sustaining this kind of momentum. Hopefully it’s an easy win on Dec. 15, then again on Dec. 22 against Utah Tech.