Although it was a lead the Colorado men's basketball team ultimately wasted, it was an interesting cast of characters that momentarily put the Buffaloes in control.
With starters like D'Shawn Schwartz and Tyler Bey once again struggling, and point guard McKinley Wright getting an extended break after picking up his second foul with 8 minutes, 12 seconds left in the opening half, the Buffs' depleted bench came up big in the first half of what became a 76-74 defeat against Oregon State Thursday night.
A patchwork unit highlighted by reserves Evan Battey, Daylen Kountz, and Alex Strating took center stage in a 17-5 first-half run by the Buffs that ended in the team's biggest lead of the night at 34-25 with 2 minutes, 46 seconds remaining in the first half.
Oregon State trimmed its deficit to five points by halftime and quickly erased CU's advantage after the break, but it was an impressive run
"Our bench in the first half was phenomenal," CU head coach Tad Boyle said. "Our bench was terrific in that first half."
Battey posted his fifth double-digit scoring effort of the season but his first since Dec. 11 at New Mexico, going 7-for-9 before finishing with 16 points and four rebounds. Kountz bounced back from a scoreless outing at Stanford to record six points, four rebounds, and two assists. And Strating, who did not play in the previous two games, hit both his field goal attempts and finished with a career-best five points along with two rebounds and an assist in nearly 18 minutes.
Bey struggled to a 1-for-7 mark with only four rebounds in 18 minutes — his lowest court time in a full game this season (Bey had an injury-shortened appearance at Air Force on Nov. 24).
"I thought Alex was playing well, and I just didn't think Tyler was giving us much tonight," Boyle said. "He's a good player. But I think defensively and rebounding, he just wasn't the same Tyler Bey that I've expected to see and we expect to see. I thought Alex Strating played unbelievable defense on Tres Tinkle. It just was a matchup thing. Evan was playing well. Alex was playing well and defending well. Lucas (Siewert) didn't have his best game, but he gives us a presence out there against their zone with his ability to shoot the ball."
CU shot an even 50 percent (26-for-52) and has hit that mark in three of the past six games. However, the Buffs lost for just the fourth time in 68 games under Boyle when shooting at least 50 percent...Siewert's eight rebounds matched his career-best in a Pac-12 game. He also had eight at USC last year...In three games since a one-game absence due to a left shoulder injury, CU point guard has shot .577 overall (15-for-26) with a 4-for-7 mark on 3-pointers...CU struggled again from 3-point range, going 6-for-20 to drop its season percentage to .328...Former CU Buffs star Derrick White scored a career-best 26 points for the San Antonio Spurs Thursday night in a win against Brooklyn.