Key showdown in Pac-12 race at hand as Stanford visits CU Buffs

Battle of da Silva brothers a sidelight to critical matchup

  Stanford's  Oscar Da Silva gets a pass around Colorado's McKinley Wright IV  during the February 8, 2020 Pac-12 game in Boulder.
(Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)
Stanford’s Oscar Da Silva gets a pass around Colorado’s McKinley Wright IV during the February 8, 2020 Pac-12 game in Boulder. (Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)

Stanford’s Oscar da Silva is the sort of player who can fill up a box score on any given night.

His brother, Colorado freshman Tristan da Silva, isn’t that player at this very early stage of his career. Yet Tristan da Silva is coming off a very productive effort for the Buffaloes that didn’t necessarily equal his older brother’s typical assault on the stat sheet.

Barring a matchup in the Pac-12 Conference tournament, or the unlikely decision by the elder da Silva to forgo a pro career to take advantage of the NCAA eligibility relief granted for this season, the da Silva brothers will collide for the first of two scheduled matchups this season at the CU Events Center on Saturday afternoon.

Oscar da Silva is one of the stars of the Pac-12 who was part of a memorable moment at CU last year that was at once frightening and inspiring. Tristan da Silva is coming off perhaps the most meaningful playing time of his young CU career during Thursday’s win against Cal. And that will be a sidebar for what will be a critical matchup in the Buffs’ quest to gain some separation in the top third of the Pac-12 standings.

“Tristan da Silva is that guy that kind of is what we call a glue guy. He makes everybody else around him better,” CU head coach Tad Boyle said. “I thought his post defense was really good (against Cal). He battled against bigger, stronger post guys. I thought his ball-screen defense in the second half was terrific.

“Tristan is a really intelligent player and mentally understands the concepts that you’re teaching. As we look forward to the frontcourt of Colorado basketball in the future, those two kids — Tristan da Silva, Jabari Walker — you’re seeing the future before your eyes.”

The game will mark Oscar da Silva’s first appearance at the CU Events Center since Feb. 8, 2020, when a collision with CU’s Evan Battey left da Silva motionless and bleeding on the floor. Though serious, the injury in retrospect looked worse than it turned out to be — da Silva suffered a concussion and lacerated scalp and missed Stanford’s next game — but the silence that hit the arena while da Silva was prone on the court was chilling. After Oscar da Silva retreated to the locker room, both teams huddled together at center court for a joint pep talk in a show of sportsmanship that brought the capacity crowd to its feet.

Tristan da Silva has yet to play in front of any crowd at the Events Center, but he turned in a solid defensive performance on Thursday. With starting forward Jeriah Horne on the bench with two fouls late in the first half, Boyle sent his freshman forward into the fray. Da Silva provided strong interior defense and even forced a low-post turnover.

On Saturday, the stakes will be much greater than brother-versus-brother, as CU jockeys for position behind league-leading UCLA. After UCLA, which is 6-0 in the league, USC and Oregon are next with identical 4-1 marks, with both of those teams suffering their lone Pac-12 losses against the Buffs. Next are the Cardinal and Buffs at 4-2, giving CU a prime opportunity to establish traction in the Pac-12 race.

Despite expressing optimism earlier this week that 7-footer Dallas Walton might return against the Cardinal, Boyle on Friday said Walton is expected to miss his sixth consecutive game due to a lower leg injury. However, backup point guard Keeshawn Barthelemy is expected to return to the rotation after missing the Cal game due to an ankle injury.

“It’s definitely a separation game,” Boyle said. “Whatever team wins will have another opportunity, and whatever team loses will have another opportunity. It’s a separation game though, no doubt. It’s a big one.”

Stanford Cardinal at CU Buffs men’s basketball

TIPOFF: Saturday, 1 p.m., CU Events Center.

BROADCAST: TV — Pac-12 Networks; Radio — KOA 850 AM and 94.1 FM.

RECORDS: Stanford 8-4, 4-2 Pac-12 Conference; Colorado 10-3, 4-2.

COACHES: Stanford — Jerod Haase, 5th season (76-65, 156-118 overall); Colorado — Tad Boyle, 11th season (220-137, 276-203 overall).

KEY PLAYERS: Stanford — F Oscar da Silva, Sr., 19.1 ppg, 6.9 rpg, .627 field goal percentage; G Daejon Davis, Sr., 14.7 ppg, 4.3 rpg, 3.5 apg; F Ziaire Williams, Fr., 12.1 ppg, 5.8 rpg. Colorado — G McKinley Wright, Sr., 15.2 ppg, 5.6 apg, 4.5 rpg; F Jeriah Horne, R-Sr., 10.5 ppg, 5.5 rpg; F Evan Battey, R-Jr., 9.8 ppg, 5.1 rpg; G/F D’Shawn Schwartz, Sr., 9.5 ppg, 4.7 rpg, .450 3-point percentage.

WHAT TO WATCH: Although the Buffs also played on Thursday, Stanford played an evening game at Utah and tips off in Boulder less than 48 hours later. Look for the Buffs to push the pace.

NOTES: Boyle said the Buffs are “looking at the Washington game” next week for the possible return of injured 7-footer Dallas Walton, who is expected to miss his sixth consecutive game…Wright is set to make the 112th start of his career, with will tie current CU Director of Player Development Nate Tomlinson for the sixth-most in team history. Wright also needs 13 points to surpass Emmett Lewis for ninth-place on CU’s all-time scoring list…CU has won six consecutive home games against the Cardinal…Schwartz needs one 3-pointer to match Donnie Boyce and Levi Knutson for 10th-place in team history. With two more 3-pointers, Schwartz will tie Xavier Johnson for ninth-place…Stanford is coming off a Thursday night loss at Utah in which the Cardinal shot a season-low .354…The Buffs hit the road next week for games Wednesday at Washington (7 p.m. MT, ESPN2 or U) and Saturday at Washington State (6 p.m. MT, ESPNU).