After a long COVID-related absence, the Colorado Buffaloes finally took the court for the first time in 2022. Their Oregon road trip was scuttled, so their first game in the new year was against the Washington State Cougars. Wazzu comes in as a somewhat disappointing 8-5 after being hyped as a contender in the Pac-12 before the year. They also are without Noah Williams, who was a spark plug for the Cougars last season.
It mattered little to Washington State at the beginning of the game. Star forward Efe Abogide had over ten in the first half and local product TJ Bamba had plenty of points at the beginning of the game. A hard elbow to the head took KJ Simpson out of the game for the Buffs, thrusting Julian Hammond into heavy action. CU’s offense came from the usual suspects - Evan Battey was a steady force on the offensive side of the ball and Keeshawn Barthelemy continuously knifed through the lane. Jabari Walker battled through an ankle injury in the first half and wasn’t able to score like we’re used to. Nique Clifford, as we’ve seen throughout this season, provided a great spark off the bench and the Buffs ended up down at the half.
Jabari Walker came alive in the 2nd half. He scored all of his 16 points after the break and completely took over the game in the paint. Walker and Evan Battey cleared out plenty of space and made some tough layups to get to the free throw line. Washington State continued to score with ease, led by Tyrell Roberts. In the end, the Buffs outlasted the Cougars, 82-78, and moved to 2-1 in conference.