The Colorado Buffaloes are moving on the next round of the Pac-12 Tournament after holding off the Washington Huskies.
The first half of this game was 20 minutes of unwatchable basketball. The Buffs are not a good offensive team and lots of their games turn into rock fights, like that near-upset against UCLA. This was closer to a slap flight, as both offenses looked out-of-sync at best, incompetent at worst. Thankfully, the Buffs were less bad, thanks for Tristan da Silva’s hot shooting and Julian Hammond III playing well in KJ Simpson’s absence.
After leading 28-20 at the break, the Buffs got rocked early in the second half. Washington coach Mike Hopkins must have figured out something, or maybe splashed cold water in his players faces, because the Huskies hit everything for a good 10-minute stretch. The Buffs have a great defense, but they had to adjust to an offense that was previously incapable of making simple passes or hitting open shots. (I’m being mean but the first half was an offense to the sport.)
The Buffs weathered the storm thanks to da Silva hitting some tough shots. Once they settled in, Hammond took over, 15 of his career-high 21 points in the second half. He was tremendous in the pick-and-roll, getting to his spots and hitting jumpers and floaters. Luke O’Brien also had a great game, putting up 13 points and 10 rebounds, as he added positive chaos to the CU offense. He was also clutch, as his three-pointer broke a 66-66 tie with 1:14 left to play. Hammond hit another shot after that and da Silva iced the game at the line.
Next up for the 9th-seeded Buffs is a matchup against the UCLA Bruins, the Pac-12 regular season champs, on Thursday at 1:00 PM (MT). CU nearly beat the Bruins in Boulder and they were more than competitive in the previous matchup in LA. Both teams play physical, defensive basketball, but the Bruins have the edge since their players are a level above and generally cohesive and consistent, which we cannot say about the Buffs.