"I'd like to welcome Julius Ashby back to the team," Ricardo Patton joked after the game. "I thought he played extremely well and showed flashes of what we saw in last year's Big 12 tournament."
Colorado's strategy going into the game was to battle Bookout and Gray, who had scorched the Buffs for a combined 46 points last season in an OU win. The trio of Ashby, Chris Copeland and Marcus King-Stockton rose to the occasion. Bookout (4) and Gray (11) had just 15 points.
However, Oklahoma guard Michael Neal was unconscious in the first half, hitting four treys against CU's zone defense, and six 3-pointers overall in the first 20 minutes. The Sooners took a 40-35 lead into the locker room.
"We thought if we could come back in the second half and contain (Neal) a little better, and maintain our post defense, then we had a chance to win," Patton said. "The adjustment we made was …we wanted to make sure that no (CU defender) left or helped off of Neal."
Neal cooled down (he was 1-of-7 from beyond the arc in the second half), and Colorado quickly closed the halftime deficit.
When Richard Roby was fouled on a successful 3-pointer from the corner, he converted the 4-point play and pulled the Buffs to within one less than four minutes into the second half. Both teams traded baskets for several minutes before Jayson Obazuaye sparked Colorado with two layups. His second, at the 9:16 mark gave CU a 2-point lead. Colorado never relinquished it. That's not to say it was smooth sailing.
"They were huge," Patton said. "I think that that's what we've done all season long. Guys have stepped up. We've not had to rely on one person to make 3-point shots for us."
Roby led all scorers with 28 points, and pulled down a team-high nine boards, while Neal led OU with 26 points.
The Buffs, who have shot just over 60 percent from the foul line on the season, sank a stellar 19-of-22 from the line. They also outrebounded Oklahoma — a team that leads the Big 12 in rebound margin — 41-32.
Ashby had five boards, but it was on the offensive end where he made the biggest difference.
"The thing that makes our offense look better is when we have a post player that we can throw the ball inside to and he can make the defense play," Patton said. "I thought there game plan was going in was to pressure our perimeter (players). I don't know that they respected our post game. But, of course, they haven't seen Julius Ashby play like he played tonight."
The win puts Colorado at 17-5 overall and 7-4 in the Big 12, the same conference mark as Oklahoma. CU would be seeded third in the conference tournament if it started today because it now owns the tiebreaker over the Sooners. Both teams are in third place behind Kansas and Texas.
With under a minute to play, several hundred CU students began preparing to rush the court. When the final buzzer sounded, a river of gold-t-shirt-wearing fans ran onto the court and gathered around the team.
While Patton and his players were obviously jubilated with the win, the coach warned there is still work to do before the NCAA committee hands out tickets to the Dance. Up next for Colorado is a game at Kansas State on Saturday. The Buffs have road dates at Nebraska and Kansas as well, and two remaining home games with Missouri and Iowa State.
"It's a great win over a really good basketball team," Patton said after Wednesday's game. "Certainly it bodes well for our program. But now we have to focus on the next game. That's the most important game at this point."
Points: Richard Roby 28
Rebounds: Roby 9
Assists: Marcus Hall 6
Turnovers: Chris Copeland 3
Blocks: Three tied with 1
Steals: Roby 3
Points: Michael Neal 26
Rebounds: Kevin Bookout 9
Assists: Terrell Everett 7
Turnovers: Everett 5
Blocks: Taj Gray 3
Steals: two with 1
After averaging just over 20 turnovers a game the past three outings, CU took care of the ball Wednesday, committing just eight. …Dominique Coleman saw his first action in three games. He'd been out with a heel injury, but got into the game Wednesday at the14:28 mark in the first half.