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Colorado beats Cal, as they should

The Buffs held on for the 59-46 win.

NCAA Basketball: California at Colorado Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

The Colorado Buffaloes (13-11 overall, 5-8 in Pac-12) continued their middling play, but they got a good result by defeating the Cal Bears (3-19, 2-9) by the final score of 59-46.

It was another slow start for a Buffs team that has really struggled to create any offense, especially early in the game. Cal dropped back into the paint and dared CU to shoot over them, but the Buffs aren’t a very good shooting team and went 6/24 (25%) from the field, 2/11 (18%) from three and committed 10 turnovers. It is worth noting that the Bears have the worst defense in the Pac-12, yet the Buffs have the worst offense by those same KenPom metrics. This half was a stoppable force vs. a moveable object and everyone watching lost.

Thankfully Tristan da Silva woke up at halftime and carried the CU offense like he has for weeks now. He should be allowed an off night, or even an off twenty minutes, but this team can barely keep its head above water with him balling out. His 17 second half points — and 12 straight to start the period — were as casual as ever and it seemed to have a calming effect on the whole team. The Buffs managed to take care of the ball, play with something resembling a flow, and eventually role players like Luke O’Brien and Lawson Lovering contributed positively on that end.

It goes without saying that CU’s defense was great again. Sometimes that gets lost in the shuffle because the broken offense is truly appalling, but this defense is the very best in the Pac-12 and they have shut down almost every team in the country. It’s not easy to hold another team to 39 points in the game, even if that team is the worst in major college basketball. A lot of credit here can do to Lovering for anchoring that defense, KJ Simpson for being a dawg on that end, and veteran Jalen Gabbidon stepping in for an injured J’Vonne Hadley and putting in the work.

The Buffs will be tested on Sunday against the Stanford Cardinal. Colorado home that game on the road, but the Cardinal have figured out things since then and have won their last games, including at Utah on Thursday night. This team can score points in a hurry, so unless the CU defense shuts everything down, the Buffs will have to shoot better than 40% to sweep this home set.