CORVALLIS, Ore. — Once again, Colorado received a huge lift off the bench from freshman Tristan da Silva.
The rookie from Germany came up big during the second half of the Buffaloes’ key 61-57 road win Saturday night at Oregon State, making big plays at both ends of the floor as the Buffs held off the Beavers down the stretch.
Da Silva finished with five points, four rebounds, and two steals and did most of that damage in the second half, scoring all of his points and recording both of his steals after the break. Because of da Silva’s hot hand, head coach Tad Boyle opted to keep him on the floor down the stretch at the expense of Jeriah Horne. Horne went 2-for-3 on 3-pointers and recorded 10 points and five rebounds but played only seven minutes after halftime.
“Tristan had it going,” Boyle said. “It has nothing to do with what Jeriah did or didn’t do, Tristan just had it going. He was playing really well. I felt good about the matchup defensively, because they went with a small lineup. We just kind of stuck with it. It has nothing to do with lack of faith in Jeriah. Jeriah is going to be fine and is going to play a lot of big minutes for as this season winds down.
“But Tristan keeps getting better. When he’s got the ball in his hands I feel really good about things. I feel good about where he’s at defensively. When guys are playing good, you kind of want to stick with them. And that’s what we did with Tristan tonight.”
Da Silva’s four rebounds matched a season-high.
Although he didn’t score in the second half, CU junior forward Evan Battey enjoyed a return to form.
On Feb. 6, Battey matched a career-high with 21 points in a win against Arizona, but in the waning seconds he suffered a minor though significant ankle injury. In the four games prior to Saturday’s win at Oregon State, Battey, who averages a little over 10 points per game, scored just 20 points total.
Against the Beavers, Battey scored 10 points, all in the first half, while going 3-for-4 from the floor and 4-for-6 at the free throw line. Battey also grabbed six rebounds, sharing the team lead with D’Shawn Schwartz and Dallas Walton.
“It’s come a long way,” Battey said about his ankle. “I couldn’t really get it 100 percent these prior two weeks. But kind of as time goes on, it’s healing. I’ve just been blessed with great trainers and a strength coach that is constantly working on it. It’s tough, because you need your ankle. You’re battling with bigs and I’m undersized as it is, and now I couldn’t jump.
“But that’s the part where you have to play for your teammates. I said at the Arizona game, my teammates gave me the strength to shoot those free throws (after the injury). My teammates are giving me the strength to fight through this injury and keep playing and keep battling for them.”
More McKinley milestones
Afterward, McKinley Wright IV held true to form by raving about the win while professing humble ignorance about the personal milestones he reached along the way.
Yet it still was a big night individually for CU’s senior point guard.
Wright scored a game-high 21 points, becoming the eighth CU player to reach the 1,700 point mark while surpassing former Buffs star Josh Scott for the No. 8 slot on CU’s all-time scoring list. Wright finished the night with 1,718 points, leaving him likely just one game away from reaching Stevie Wise (1,727) for seventh-place.
Wright already was the first Pac-12 player, and the 10th Division I player since the 1985-86 season, to amass at least 1,600 points, 600 rebounds, and 600 assists in his career. Wright joined even more elite company on Saturday, as he became just the seventh Division I player since ’85-86 to eclipse 1,700 points alongside at least 600 rebounds and 600 assists.
Wright also made his 122nd start, matching Wesley Gordon for third all-time at CU, and played in his 123rd game, moving into a four-way tie for 11th all-time with Levi Knutson, Stephane Pelle, and Will Smith.
“I never know that stuff unless you guys (the media) bring it up to me,” Wright said. “I’m not the type that gets into personal stats and personal accolades. They’re just coming. I’m just doing my job competing at a high level, trying to help my team win ball games. Accolades come with that. I’m just blessed to be in this position.”
Bye time (?)
Though it remains unofficial, the Buffs have all but secured a first-round bye at the Pac-12 tournament for the first time.
With Arizona self-imposing a postseason ban, the Pac-12 on Friday announced this year’s 11-team tournament will include five first-round byes instead of the usual four.
It remains to be seen just how many of this season’s postponed dates will be rescheduled ahead of the tournament — including CU’s still-in-limbo home date against Arizona State — but after Saturday’s win the Buffs can’t be pushed out of the fifth slot. CU still technically could finish sixth, but with Arizona out of the equation for the tournament, that would still result in the fifth seed.
Again, assuming all postponed games are rescheduled (not likely, but for argument’s sake), Oregon State still could match the Buffs, but CU has earned the tiebreaker by virtue of the regular-season sweep of the Beavers. Utah still could match the Buffs’ final record, but CU’s sweep of Stanford and split with Oregon would give the Buffs the tiebreaker edge against the Utes.
CU held Oregon State to a .362 mark from the floor. It was the second-lowest total against a Pac-12 foe, trailing only the .327 mark the Beavers posted in Boulder two weeks ago…The Buffs went 4-for-18 on 3-pointers and have shot just .217 (13-for-60) from long range over the past three games…CU’s 16 turnovers was its third-highest total of the season. The Buffs’ second-highest total of 17 was recorded just two days earlier at Oregon…CU has recorded just four single-digit assist totals all season, but three have occurred in the past three games — five at Cal, eight at Oregon, and eight again on Saturday at Oregon State.