The no. 20 University of Colorado Buffaloes opened up Pac-12 play with an ugly win over the Oregon State University Beavers after struggling offensively in the first half on Thursday night, 64-58. With this win, the Buffs improved their overall record to 12-2 in one of the toughest schedules in the country.
Said head coach Tad Boyle after the game, "Good win. Welcome to Pac-12 conference play. Nothing's going to be easy. I think everybody who saw the game tonight, certainly in person, knows the talent and skill that Oregon State has. We beat a good team tonight, and they're much better than their record."
"The best thing is we won when we didn't shoot the ball well. We talk about defense and rebounding being the cornerstones of our program and tonight's a good example of why that is. Our guys did what they had to do."
The Buffs only shot 38.2% from the field (21 for 55) for the night, and their three-point shooting didn't help them out much either after going 5 for 20 from behind the arc (25.0%).
"I think it speaks a lot about our team when our guys are able to win when we're not shooting the ball well," sophomore forward Josh Scott said. "We rebounded, we got the stops when we needed to...so it was good for us."
For the seventh time this season in just 14 games, Scott earned another double-double performance with 13 points and 10 rebounds.
Turnovers were a strong point for the Buffs during the game after they forced 17 and monopolized off of them for a total of 25 points.
"It's a great win, knowing that we can rely on our defense to get wins and not just our offense," Johnson said.
Freshman guard Jaron Hopkins, junior guard Askia Booker, and Scott led the Buffs in scoring with 13 points apiece. Oregon State's senior guard Roberto Nelson was a thorn in Colorado's side all night as he accounted for nearly forty percent of his team's points with 23.
Thursday's match up got off to a slow start and didn't pick up at all during the first half. Booker hit a quick three thirty seconds into the half, but the Beavers weren't able to respond with a three of their own until three minutes later.
Throughout the rest of the first, the score remained neck-in-neck with six total tie scores and four lead changes before the buzzer sounded. With four minutes left in play, Oregon State tied it back up at 18, but then the Buffs took control of the game.
Going into the half, the Buffs outscored the Beavers ten to five and went into the break with a score of 28-23. Even though the Buffs held a five-point lead at that point, the first half was by no means pretty.
In the first 20 minutes of play, the Buffs shot 9 for 26 from the field (34.6%), 4 for 13 from the three-point range (30.8%), and 6 for 10 from the free throw line (60.0%). Their defense compensated for their struggling offense after forcing 12 turnovers in the first half alone.
The Beavers, on the other hand, were a little smarter with their shots. They went 8 for 23 from the field (34.8%), 3 for 4 from the three (75.0%), and 4 for 5 from the foul line (80.0%).
Going into the second half, they kept the momentum on their side. After going down by as much as ten points with 16:28 left, the Beavers fought back with a twelve to two run to tie the score right back up at 40 with ten and a half minutes remaining.
"We just knew that the score was a little too close, so we had to come out with a little fire and energy," sophomore forward Xavier Johnson said. "Since we were slowing the game down, we had to start speeding them up, make them feel uncomfortable, so we did."
The Buffs regained the lead soon after and never lost it. Their biggest lead of the game came five minutes later, 58-46. The Beavers tried to fight back from this 12-point deficit, but only managed to get within four before the clock ran out.
The Buffs finished the night with a 64-58 win over the Beavers.
"Oregon State's a good team," Scott said. "I mean, we won, but we want to be able to put good teams away, step on the throat. But we didn't do it tonight. We battled, but really that's all we can ask for. I love it about our team."
The Buffaloes return to their home court on Sunday, Jan 5 at 3:00 p.m. to take on the no. 10 Oregon Ducks.