For the first time in the 2016-2017-basketball season, the Colorado Buffaloes put it all together. They defended, played with passion, and their senior laden team came up big when it matter most in an upset of #10 Oregon 74-65 on Saturday night at the Coors Events Center in Boulder. A team with high hopes from the outset of the season, the Buffaloes have underachieved, starting conference play 0-7 before a home sweep of the Oregon schools last week.
Is this victory an aberration, or will this win propel Colorado to a solid second half of conference play and an outside shot at a tournament birth? Time will tell, but the signs may be promising for a turnaround. The second half of the conference schedule is much easier, and the opportunity to get on a roll is there if the Buffaloes show the willingness to play all facets of the game hard for a full 40 minutes.
On Saturday, Colorado led most of the game. Every time Oregon started a run, the Buffaloes answered, led by senior transfer Derrick White. White, who has become a force in the PAC-12 conference after transferring from Division 2 University of Colorado-Colorado Springs, hit a couple of big shots, and finished with 23 points to lead all scorers. The effort on the defensive side of the ball may have been more impressive, holding Oregon’s high-octane offense to a 38% shooting night from the field. The Ducks shot 11-34 from the 3-point line, and the Buffaloes forced 16 turnovers. Rebounding has also been a staple of Tad Boyle in his tenure at Colorado, and it showed on Saturday, as they outrebounded Oregon 41-38.
This week Colorado travels to California to take on Stanford and the Golden Bears. A road sweep is a must, especially if the Buffaloes want to keep any hopes of an NCAA tournament birth alive. Realistically, a 7-2 second half of conference play gets them to 19-12, with 3 wins over the top 25, and the PAC-12 tournament, there would be a chance to get an at large bid. Time will tell if this win was a one hit wonder, or if the Colorado has finally turned the corner late in the 2017 season.