Familiar struggles ruin New Year’s Eve for CU men’s basketball at Oregon

Fast break

What went right: CU outrebounded Oregon 32-30.

What went wrong: CU allowed the Ducks to shoot .510 from the field and the Buffs also committed 20 turnovers.

Star of the game: Namon Wright. The junior guard came off the bench to lead CU with 20 points while shooting 8-for-13 from the field.

What’s next: The Buffs host No. 3 Arizona State (likely to drop in this week’s AP poll) on Thursday night at the Coors Events Center (6:30 p.m., Pac-12 Network).

EUGENE, Ore. — Colorado’s first weekend of Pac-12 Conference play probably will make the Buffaloes glad to be turning the calendar from 2017 to 2018.

No doubt, it was an ugly end to the year for the CU men’s basketball team.

Unable to overcome another mistake-filled start and again beset by far too many turnovers, the Buffaloes dropped a 77-62 decision at Oregon Sunday night in a New Year’s Eve battle at Knight Arena.

It was CU’s fifth loss in six games and also its fourth consecutive loss at Oregon. The Buffs also have lost six consecutive road games dating back to last season.

“I’ve got a totally different feeling in my stomach tonight than I did after Friday night’s game (at Oregon State),” CU head coach Tad Boyle said. “I felt our guys really competed tonight. I thought their effort was great. I thought their enthusiasm was great. The two keys to tonight’s game, without a doubt, were ball security and they shot 22 free throws to our eight. You lose a game by 15 and you get outscored by 14 at the free throw line, it’s a little frustrating. We’ve got to find a way to get to the free throw line more.”

It was a frustrating and all-too familiar start for the Buffaloes, who dug themselves a deep early hole that set the tone for the evening.

Much like the opening of its game two nights earlier at Oregon State, CU stumbled out of the gate, committing turnovers on each of its first three possessions. The Buffs missed seven of their first eight shots while Oregon scored 13 of the game’s first 15 points while building a 15-4 lead.

Immediately after the Buffs surrendered a fast-break layup following their own made basket, senior guard Dom Collier was demonstrably frustrated on the CU bench at the beginning of a timeout with the Buffs trailing 17-6. The emotional outburst seemingly energized the Buffs, as Collier promptly started an 11-3 run by draining a 3-pointer before assisting on a 3-pointer by Namon Wright.

That run trimmed the Ducks’ lead to three, but Oregon abruptly regained control by scoring the next seven points. CU again battled to within 29-25 by scoring six consecutive points, but Oregon claimed a 37-28 halftime lead when Ducks guard Payton Pritchard knocked down a 3-pointer just before the buzzer.

“We can’t have slow starts, especially in a league like this if we want to win,” freshman guard McKinley Wright said. “We’ve lost six of our last eight games, and in all those losses we’ve come out flat. We put ourselves in a hole and we have to dig our way out. That’s just not going to work in this league.”

CU opened the second half with two free throws from McKinley Wright and a 3-pointer from Dallas Walton, but moments later the Ducks scored 10 consecutive points in a 13-2 Oregon run. The Buffs, who never led throughout the contest, didn’t threaten the hosts the rest of the way.

Namon Wright was one of the few bright spots for the Buffs, as the junior came off the bench to lead CU with 20 points while going 8-for-13 from the floor. McKinley Wright endured his second consecutive rough night shooting the ball (5-for-13) but he still finished with 13 points and seven assists.

Forty-eight hours after matching their second-highest turnover total of the season with 18 at Oregon State, the Buffs finished with 20 on Sunday. The Ducks shot .510, the third-best effort by a CU opponent this season and the second time in a row the Buffs have allowed the opposition to shoot at least 50 percent. CU did outrebound the Ducks 32-30, with freshmen Lazar Nikolic and Walton leading the way with six apiece.

“Guys competed. Guys played hard. We had some good looks that didn’t go in,” Boyle said. “We’re still not shooting the ball well from three. As a coach you don’t always know what to do to control that. I want our players to continue to believe because we are getting better. Tonight was a totally different deal.

“If they didn’t watch the game tonight and they didn’t watch the game on Friday and they just saw the scores, they might think whatever. But it was a totally different game tonight. Our guys tonight, I’ll live with tonight’s effort.”

The schedule doesn’t get any easier for the Buffs going forward, as No. 3 Arizona State and No. 17 Arizona visit the Coors Events Center. Next week the Buffs travel to Los Angeles to take on USC and UCLA.

Pat Rooney: or

Oregon 77, Colorado 62

At Knight Arena

COLORADO (8-6, 0-2)

Bey 1-3 1-2 3, King 4-9 0-1 9, Brown 1-5 0-0 2, Walton 1-4 0-0 3, M. Wright 5-13 3-4 13, Schwartz 0-3 0-0 0, N. Wright 8-13 1-1 20, Collier 3-5 0-0 7, Nikolic 1-1 0-0 2, Siewert 1-3 0-0 3. Totals 25-59 5-8 62.

OREGON (11-4, 1-1)

T. Brown 7-11 6-6 21, Wooten 4-4 5-6 13, McIntosh 2-9 0-0 4, Pritchard 4-8 2-4 12, E. Brown 6-11 3-3 17, Bailey 2-4 0-0 5, Smith 0-0 2-2 2, White 1-4 1-1 3. Totals 26-51 19-22 77.

Halftime — Oregon 37, Colorado 28. 3-point field goals — Colorado 7-22 (Walton 1-1, Brown 0-3, King 1-4, M. Wright 0-2, Schwartz 0-1, N. Wright 3-6, Collier 1-2, Siewert 1-3); Oregon 6-19 (T. Brown 1-2, McIntosh 0-3, Pritchard 2-2, E. Brown 2-7, Bailey 1-3, White 0-2). Rebounds — Colorado 32 (Walton, Nikolic 6); Oregon 30 (T. Brown, Wooten 7). Assists — Colorado 12 (M. Wright 7); Oregon 9 (Pritchard 4). Total fouls — Colorado 22, Oregon 15. Fouled out — Bey, Collier. A — 7,458.