With tears ringing his red-tinged eyes, Colorado basketball coach Tad Boyle carefully recounted the highs and lows of an emotional afternoon at the CU Events Center.
The 24th-ranked Buffaloes had just stormed past Stanford for an 81-74 comeback victory, ensuring the Buffs’ of a place at the top of the Pac-12 Conference going into a huge Thursday night at Oregon. It was a satisfying result, even if it required an emotional journey to get there.
In the waning seconds of the first half, Boyle’s emotions boiled over when Eli Parquet was whistled for a questionable foul on a 3-point attempt by Stanford freshman Tyrell Terry. An incredulous Boyle was issued a technical foul and Terry promptly drained five consecutive free throws with two-tenths of a second remaining in the first half, turning a six-point Stanford lead into an 11-point deficit for the Buffs at the break.
Roughly 20 minutes later in real time (not game time), a much more somber Boyle was huddled up with the on-the-floor players from each team as well as Stanford coach Jerod Haase in a brief prayer as play was set to resume following a frightening head injury to Cardinal leading scorer Oscar da Silva.
For Boyle, the sequence showcased the best and worst of what sports has to offer.
“Sports brings out the emotions in people,” Boyle said. “Sometimes it’s good. Sometimes it’s bad. You saw some bad emotion from the Colorado coach at the end of the first half. Sometimes it brings out the worst in me, and in players. But sometimes it brings out the best. And that’s an example I think today of the best.”
The near-upset pulled off by Stanford was even more commendable given that da Silva played just nine minutes in the first half due to foul trouble and played only three more after halftime before getting injured. The Cardinal also played without starting guard Bryce Wills, who suffered an ankle injury Thursday night at Utah.
The rally from 16 points down in the second half tied the 10th-largest comeback in CU history. It also was the third-largest comeback in the second half and the fifth-largest in Boyle’s 10 seasons as the Buffs’ head coach.
This past week, the CU athletics department made a big announcement that the three retired jersey numbers from the football program — Byron “Whizzer” White’s No. 24, Joe Romig’s No. 67, and Bobby Anderson’s No. 11 — would be put back into circulation.
The men’s basketball team is the only other CU athletics program that has retired jerseys, No. 22 for Burdette Haldorson and No. 20 for Cliff Meely. Asked this past week how he might handle a request from a recruit to wear one of those numbers, Boyle responded by saying he would follow the template set by the football team.
“I honestly haven’t thought about it. I certainly understand why football did it and recruiting,” Boyle said. “If we were recruiting a kid and it was a deal-breaker with one of those two numbers, I’d probably reach out to Burdie Haldorson or Cliff Meely’s family or somebody that was close to Cliff and ask him. But until that happens, I’ll just leave it as it is.”
Filling the keg
Saturday featured the second sellout of the season, with the attendance of 10,930 edging the 10,770 that showed up for the Jan. 2 game against Oregon for the biggest crowd of the season.
With two home games remaining, the Buffs are well on place to enjoy the first year-to-year increase in attendance since program attendance records were shattered during the 2012-13 season. Through Saturday’s win at Stanford the Buffs are averaging 7,602 fans per game, up from about 7,187 last year.
Tyler Bey posted the 28th double-double of his career and needs one more to match Alex Stivrins for the 10th-most in program history. Bey’s 11 points left him just four point shy of becoming the 36th member of CU’s 1,000-point club…CU went 8-for-8 on 3-pointers in the second half and made nine in a row overall, setting a team record…Saturday’s game was the second time this year the Buffs have featured two 20-point scorers, and both times those players were McKinley Wright IV and D’Shawn Schwartz. Wright scored a team-high 21 points against Stanford while Schwartz added 20 points. That duo also did it in the win against Dayton on Dec. 21, with Wright scoring 29 and Schwartz scoring 20.