Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer
This one had a little bit of everything.
A stirring comeback that brought the capacity crowd at the CU Events Center to its collective feet. A frightening injury scare. And, most importantly for a 24th-ranked Colorado team trying not to peak too far ahead to a first-place showdown at Oregon, a Buffaloes victory.
The Buffs turned it on during a dramatic and emotional second half Saturday against Stanford, rallying from a 16-point deficit early in the second half to post an 81-74 victory. CU clinched the best 24-game start in program history at 19-5 while retaining at least a share of first place in the Pac-12 Conference at 8-3, pending the result of Oregon’s game at Oregon State late Saturday night.
Afterward, CU head coach Tad Boyle was visibly emotional. Part of it certainly was from his team tying the 10th-largest comeback in program history. Yet it also stemmed from a chaotic scene early in the second half that left Stanford leading scorer Oscar da Silva bleeding from his head and motionless on the floor following a frightening tumble after a collision with CU big man Evan Battey.
Battey eventually returned but da Silva did not after getting helped from the floor. Da Silva suffered a head laceration and likely will be headed to the concussion protocol.
“We kept talking the only way we’re going to get this thing shrunk was to get stops,” Boyle said. “The only way we’re going to get this thing to Colorado’s advantage is to continue to get stops, because you cannot trade baskets with teams and get ahead, or come from behind. It’s about getting stops, and our guys did that in the second half when they needed to.”
CU trailed 33-22 at halftime and fell behind by 16 points after the Cardinal opened the second half with a 6-1 burst. Stanford’s lead was at 12 points when the Buffs reeled off a 16-2 run capped by a floater from Battey that gave CU its first lead since the opening moments. The game was tied 56-56 with eight minutes to play when the Buffs scored seven consecutive points, taking the lead for good.
Much like the Cal victory two days earlier, the Buffs shook off sub-par showings at both ends of the floor in the first half to dominate after halftime. CU shot just .286 in the first half (6-for-21) but erupted after the break, shooting 70 percent (14-for-20) while going a perfect 8-for-8 on 3-pointers.
Wright went 10-for-11 at the free throw line and finished with a team-leading 21 points. D’Shawn Schwartz scored 15 of his 20 points after halftime, while Tyler Bey posted his ninth double-double of the season and the 28th of his career with 11 points and 12 rebounds. Battey recovered from his injury scare, as well as a rough night in Thursday’s win against Cal, to contribute 13 points with a career-high-matching four assists.
Pending No. 14 Oregon’s result Saturday night at Oregon State, the Buffs will own at least a share of the top spot in the Pac-12 when they visit the Ducks for a first-place showdown on Thursday night.
“We knew we couldn’t afford to lose this game,” CU point guard McKinley Wright IV said. “We’ve got a target on our backs. We’re the number one team in the Pac-12 and everybody is going to give us their best shot. We just really wanted to dial-in on the defensive end and get stops. The first half they shot 40 percent. We had to be better at that end and we knew shots would start falling. We just had to keep shooting with confidence.”
What went right: The Buffs got red-hot after halftime, hitting all eight of their 3-point attempts after the break and posting a .700 second-half shooting percentage. CU also hit 30 of 40 free throw attempts.
What went wrong: CU couldn’t keep Stanford contained at the 3-point line, as the Cardinal finished 12-for-21.
Star of the game: McKinley Wright IV. The junior point guard scored 15 of his 21 points after halftime, finishing 10-for-11 on free throws and 3-for-4 on 3-pointers.
What’s next: One of the marquee games of the entire Pac-12 schedule awaits the Buffs on Thursday, as they visit Oregon with first place in the league on the line (7 p.m. MT, ESPN).
No. 24 COLORADO 81, STANFORD 74
STANFORD (16-7, 5-5 Pac-12)
Jones 4-9 2-3 14, Kisunas 1-4 0-0 2, da Silva 2-6 1-2 5, Davis 2-7 0-0 4, Terry 4-11 8-9 18, White 4-7 0-0 12, Delaire 7-13 3-3 19, Keefe 0-1 0-0 0, Beskind 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 24-58 14-17 74.
COLORADO (19-5, 8-3)
Battey 5-6 2-3 13, Gatling 1-2 3-4 6, Wright 4-8 10-11 21, Bey 2-5 6-9 11, Schwartz 5-9 7-9 20, Siewert 2-4 0-0 6, Parquet 0-3 1-2 1, Daniels 1-3 1-2 3, Walton 0-0 0-0 0, Kountz 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 20-41 30-40 81.
Halftime – Stanford 33-22. 3-point goals – Stanford 12-21 (White 4-5, Jones 4-8, Delaire 2-2, Terry 2-6), Colorado 11-21 (Wright 3-4, Schwartz 3-5, Siewert 2-4, Battey 1-1, Bey 1-1, Gatling 1-2, Kountz 0-1, Parquet 0-1, Daniels 0-2). Rebounds – Stanford 28 (Kisunas 6), Colorado 32 (Bey 12). Assists – Stanford 11 (Davis 3), Colorado 13 (Battey, Wright 4). Total fouls – Stanford 27, Colorado 18. A – 10,930.