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Shane Gatling’s defensive effort helps CU Buffs upset No. 4 Oregon

Senior struggling with shooting, but helping Colorado in other ways lately

BOULDER, CO - Jan. 2, 2020: ...
Jeremy Papasso/ Staff Photographer
Colorado’s Shane Gatling had four rebounds, three assists and a good defensive effort in Thursday’s upset of No. 4 Oregon.
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There have been plenty of times during his two seasons at Colorado when Shane Gatling has proven to be a value asset on offense for the Buffaloes.

Most recently, Gatling’s season-high 20 points on Dec. 13 were critical in a 56-48 win at Colorado State.

In the four games since, Gatling’s shot hasn’t been falling, but the senior guard is picking up his game in other ways.

During Thursday’s 74-65 upset of No. 4 Oregon at CU Events Center, Gatling had one point on 0-for-5 shooting, but recorded a season-high four rebounds and three assists and turned in a stellar defensive effort during his 27 minutes on the floor.

“That’s something we’ve constantly been challenging Shane with is on the defensive end,” CU head coach Tad Boyle said. “He’s a good shooter. I want him taking good shots. The threes he took and missed, I’m fine with them because I know he can make them. We challenge our guys all the time … what can you do to help this team win a game that doesn’t involve shooting the basketball? Shane tonight helped us win a game because of his defensive job on (Oregon’s Anthony) Mathis.”

A transfer from New Mexico, Mathis went 7-for-10 from 3-point range against the Buffs on Dec. 11, 2018, while playing for the Lobos. On Thursday, Mathis scored seven points on 1-for-4 shooting (as well as 4-for-4 from the free throw line).

“Shane did a really good job tonight, as did Daylen (Kountz) and Maddox (Daniels) when he came in,” Boyle said.

For Gatling, it’s been a challenge to find other ways to impact the game. He came to CU as a junior college transfer last year and was expected to bring a spark offensively, especially from 3-point range.

As a starter last year, he averaged 9.7 points and hit 59 3-pointers.

This season, he’s averaging 6.2 points and is now 14-of-48 (29.2 percent) beyond the arc. In four games since his 20-point burst against CSU, he is 5-for-23 from the floor, including 2-for-12 from 3-point range.

“I don’t know what’s going on,” he said of his shooting. “I honestly don’t know. I always think all my shots are going in. I’m never going to pass up a shot. If I’m open, I’m going shoot it and I’m going to think it’s going in. That’s what I’m here to do for this team. I’m here to shoot and score and make plays.”

Lately, he’s been making plays in a variety of ways. He has 11 assists in the last four games, after posting just four in the first 10. He also has seven rebounds in the last two games.

“I’m trying to do other things to keep me on the floor, other things to help our team win,” he said. “If it’s me running the team and getting rebounds and stops, I’ll do that. If it’s me hitting shots, I’ll do that as well. If my shot’s not falling, I’ve got to find other ways to help our team.”