LAS VEGAS — Alex Strating didn't get off the bench during Colorado's opening-round win against Cal at the Pac-12 Conference tournament
But Strating had given the Buffaloes solid minutes against Oregon State before, and he had a feeling his number might get called when the Buffs battled the Beavers in the quarterfinals Thursday. That hunch proved to be on the money, and the third-year sophomore delivered in a big way for CU.
With forwards Tyler Bey and Evan Battey battling foul trouble, Strating more than picked up the slack against OSU, scoring eight of his career-high 10 points in the first half as the Buffs built a 21-point lead that was too much for the Beavers' second-half rally to overcome.
"I think a big part of it is just playing the way you practice," Strating said. "I've just been trying to have that consistency in practice that will carry over to the games. If you do the same things every day in practice, then you can go out and do those same things in games.
"One of my jobs this season is just to be ready whenever. I go into every game prepared the same way. I knew back in Boulder I matched up with (OSU's) Tres Tinkle, so I knew that that might be another matchup."
Strating's previous career-high was five points, which also came against OSU in a home loss on Jan. 31. Strating's big first half included an offensive rebound that he turned into an assist when he immediately kicked the ball out to Shane Gatling for a 3-pointer.
The gritty effort led to a standing ovation for Strating when he returned to the bench from the CU cheering section.
"It was fantastic," Strating said. "We have a great crowd at home and there's a lot of people here from Boulder. That kind of encouragement is very positive."
Strating's big game gave him the rare distinction of being on the podium for the postgame press conference, where head coach Tad Boyle lauded the toughness the 6-foot-7 forward injected to the victory.
"(Strating) didn't play (against Cal) but comes in and gives us big-time minutes," Boyle said. "Tyler was in foul trouble. Evan was in foul trouble. So Alex came in and did a great job guarding Tinkle.
"When we recruited Alex, it wasn't because of his size. It wasn't because of his strength. It wasn't because of his skill, although I thought he was as good shooter when I first saw him. We recruited him for one reason, and that is toughness."