What went right: The Buffs played inspired defense from start to finish, holding Oregon to a .386 mark from the floor with an 11-for-34 performance from 3-point range.
What went wrong: CU suffered through another frustrating night at the free throw line, going 16-for-26. In the past two games the Buffs have gone 31-for-57 (.544) on free throws.
Star of the game: Derrick White. Not only did the senior guard finish with a team-leading 23 points, but he scored eight points and added a key assist in the Buffs' decisive 13-1 run late in the second half.
What's next: The Buffs hit the road for two games in Northern California, a trip that begins Thursday at Stanford (9 p.m. MST, Pac-12 Network).
Better late than never.
On Saturday night the sort of defensive-minded, clutch-shooting Colorado Buffaloes team everyone was expecting to watch all year finally came to play.
And, for now, the most impressive performance of the season will keep what has been a disappointing campaign on life support.
Turning in by far their best defensive effort in Pac-12 play and surging ahead with a dominant late run, the Buffs knocked off a ranked foe at home for the second time this season, topping No. 10 Oregon 74-65 in a Pac-12 Conference thriller at the Coors Events Center.
The win gave CU a home sweep of the Oregon schools following the program's first 0-7 start in league play in 24 years, while the Buffs improved to 7-0 all-time at home against Oregon.
CU also defeated then-No. 13 Xavier on Dec. 7.
"I think that's the Colorado basketball team we all know and love that showed up tonight," head coach Tad Boyle said. "I couldn't be more proud of a group of guys. As a head coach...I've never been through something like this with a team like this.
"The joy in that locker room, the togetherness in that locker room, is something I think we can build upon."
After starting five reserves against Oregon State on Thursday night, Boyle reverted to his more typical starting lineup against the Ducks. The group responded by knocking down the team's first four 3-point attempts — two from George King, plus one apiece from Xavier Johnson and Dom Collier — while setting a rugged defensive tone the Buffs managed to sustain for 40 minutes for arguably the first time this season.
Oregon entered the game with a .501 shooting percentage in its eight Pac-12 games, a mark that ranked second only to Utah. CU harassed the Ducks into a .386 effort that included an 11-for-34 performance from 3-point range.
"We haven't seen it. Maybe the guys said 'Enough is enough,'" Boyle said. "Look, they did it. I didn't do it. This is nothing new that we've been preaching. We had our game plan in terms of who we were switching with, who we were showing with on ball screens. But it's the players' job to go out and execute what they've been told to do. Tonight they did it to a T, and they did it with energy, they did it with effort, and they did it for 40 minutes."
The game was tied 51-51 with 5 minutes, 40 seconds remaining when the Buffs reeled off a game-breaking 13-1 run led by senior guard Derrick White. White scored eight points during the decisive surge, knocking down a 3-pointer and adding a 3-point play while also finding King inside for a 3-point play.
While it was another frustrating night for the Buffs at the free throw line (16-for-26 overall), CU managed to hit 7-of-10 over the final 1:48 to keep the Ducks at bay.
White shook off a recent shooting slump to go 3-for-4 on 3-pointers, finishing with a team-leading 23 points. Johnson recorded 10 points with a team-best nine rebounds, while King finished with 13 points and eight rebounds.
"It's a confidence-booster for sure," White said. "But we know any team in the Pac-12 can beat us, and we just showed we can beat anyone in the Pac-12. We've got to bring it every night. We can't get too high here, we've just got to get back to work."
COLORADO 74, No. 10 OREGON 65
OREGON (19-3, 8-1)
Bell 3-6 1-2 7, Brooks 2-6 5-6 9, Ennis 3-10 1-4 10, Pritchard 6-12 2-2 19, Dorsey 4-12 0-0 9, Smith 0-0 0-0 0, Boucher 3-8 1-2 9, Sorkin 0-0 0-0 0, Benson 1-3 0-0 2. Totals 22-57 10-16 65.
COLORADO (12-10, 2-7)
Gordon 4-5 0-1 8, D.White 8-16 4-5 23, Collier 1-7 2-2 5, King 4-10 3-4 13, Johnson 2-5 5-10 10, Miller 2-4 0-0 4, Siewert 1-1 2-2 5, Akyazili 1-2 0-0 2, Brown 1-3 0-0 2, Peters 0-3 0-0 0, Fortune 1-3 0-2 2. Totals 25-59 16-26 74.
Halftime — Colorado 35-34. 3-Point Goals — Oregon 11-34 (Pritchard 5-9, Ennis 3-7, Boucher 2-6, Dorsey 1-7, Benson 0-2, Brooks 0-3), Colorado 8-22 (D.White 3-4, King 2-5, Siewert 1-1, Johnson 1-2, Collier 1-5, Akyazili 0-1, Peters 0-1, Fortune 0-1, Brown 0-2). Fouled Out — Bell, Boucher, Ennis. Rebounds — Oregon 34 (Bell, Boucher, Brooks 7), Colorado 38 (Johnson 9). Assists — Oregon 11 (Brooks 4), Colorado 14 (Gordon, D.White 4). Total Fouls — Oregon 24, Colorado 17. Technicals — Bell, Ennis, Johnson, Peters.