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CU men’s basketball notes: Buffs get back to work on the glass

Dallas Walton misses third straight game, expected to remain out at Utah

BOULDER, CO - Jan. 7, 2021: ...
Ten rebounds from forward Evan Battey helped the Buffs outrebound No. 17 Oregon in a key Pac-12 victory. (Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)

Against one of the top rebounding teams in the Pac-12 Conference, the Colorado Buffaloes were able to get right on the glass.

A key component of CU’s 79-72 win Thursday afternoon against No. 17 Oregon at the CU Events Center was the 40-28 rebounding advantage posted by the Buffs.

Oregon entered the game ranked second in the Pac-12 in rebounding margin at plus-7.4. Granted, much of that total was compiled before 6-foot-11 sophomore N’Faly Dante suffered a season-ending torn ACL on Dec. 17, but the rebounding work ended a run in which the Buffs were outrebounded in three of the previous four games after not getting outrebounded at all through the season’s first six games.

“We talked about it in practice. I stopped practice (Wednesday) and laid into them a little bit,” CU head coach Tad Boyle said. “We’ve been outrebounded in three of our last four games. That’s got to stop. Oregon came into this plus-seven on the boards against their opponents. Even though they might not have the height, they’ve got guys with long arms and they’re athletic and you’ve got to battle those guys on the boards.”

CU received a team-leading 10 rebounds apiece from McKinley Wright IV and Evan Battey, both of whom posted double-doubles. It marked the first time this season CU has had multiple double-digit rebounders. The Buffs also grabbed 13 offensive rebounds, their second-highest total of the season and their best effort since recording 14 offensive boards in the season opener against South Dakota. CU turned that effort into a 16-10 edge in second-chance points.

Dallas still down

Center Dallas Walton missed his third consecutive game due to a lower leg injury. When asked, Boyle did not explain why Walton was not even on the bench during Thursday’s win, but he did say it was doubtful the 7-footer would be back for Monday’s game at Utah.

“He’s fine, but he’s going to be out for a little bit and we’ll get him back when we get him back,” Boyle said. “He probably won’t be here for Utah. Where we could really use him. (Oregon) wasn’t really a game, with their lack of size, we could have used him on offense. But man, we could use him against Utah, but I don’t think we’re going to have him.”

Big Schwartz shots

Overlooked somewhat by the dueling double-doubles produced by Battey and Wright, in addition to 17 points from Jeriah Horne, was a solid outing by senior D’Shawn Schwartz.

Schwartz went 5-for-11 and finished with 12 points and five rebounds, but he seemed to come up with a big basket whenever the Buffs most needed it during the second half. On three separate occasions during the middle portion of the second half, Oregon was able to trim what had been a 14-point CU lead to five. Each time, a bucket from Schwartz gave the Buffs much-needed breathing room. Two of those three momentum-turning baskets were 3-pointers.

Schwartz went 2-for-5 on 3-pointers and 3-for-6 on 2-pointers after entering the game with a frustrating .226 mark from inside the arc.

“I thought he played aggressive on offense. He played confident,” Boyle said. “He hit a big three in front of our bench there in the second half. He made some really good plays in the lanes and finished better. D’Shawn played really confidently and aggressive, and that’s what we need from him.”

Milestone watch

With five assists, Wright got within striking distance of CU’s all-time assists record, which will be well within striking distance when the Buffs visit Utah on Monday.

Wright now owns 558 career assists. He needs just four to match, and five to surpass, Jay Humphries’ program record of 562. Wright also moved past Frank Gampert for 26th-place on CU’s career rebounding list.

Notable

The win was the 20th over a ranked team in Boyle’s 11 seasons at CU…The last time the Buffs boasted a pair of double-doubles was on Feb. 15 in a win at Oregon State when it was accomplished by Wright (13 points, 10 rebounds) and Tyler Bey (21 points, 15 rebounds)…Oregon’s game at Utah was moved from Sunday to Saturday to help accommodate the Utes’ freshly-rearranged home date on Monday against CU. That change also is what prompted the move of Thursday’s tipoff time to 3 p.m. from 9 p.m.…The weekly Buffs Primetime basketball radio show featuring Boyle and CU women’s coach JR Payne debuted earlier this week and will air every Monday for the next nine weeks from 7 to 8 p.m. on KOA (850 AM and 94.1 FM).

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