Consider the Colorado Buffaloes’ return to action a resounding success.
CU completed its first two-game homestand following a COVID-spurred competitive pause of nearly three weeks by topping Washington 78-64 on Sunday afternoon at the CU Events Center. The win capped a home sweep of the Washington schools and gave the Buffs a 3-1 mark in Pac-12 Conference play ahead of a demanding turn in the schedule.
CU visits No. 8 Arizona on Thursday and, after playing at Arizona State, the Buffs host the two top-10 teams from Los Angeles the following week. Sunday’s win also completed a memorable week for CU head coach Tad Boyle. The Buffs gave their coach a victory on his 59th birthday against Washington State on Thursday, and Sunday’s win was Boyle’s 300th as a head coach.
“Another conference win. You’ve got to take those. Especially early out of the gate and at home,” Boyle said. “It’s really important we take care of home court advantage. We were able to do that this weekend.”
The teams traded 10-0 runs early in the first half, but the Buffs were able to take control with an 11-0 run, and after scoring the final six points of the opening period CU held a 39-28 lead at halftime.
Washington entered the game ranked 11th in the Pac-12 in 3-point percentage but the Huskies were hot early, hitting five of their first seven attempts from the arc. But UW went 5-for-16 on 3-pointers the rest of the way, with Cole Bajema doing most of that damage with a 6-for-7 performance.
It was a stellar afternoon for CU sophomore Tristan da Silva, who went 9-for-15 before finishing with a career-high 22 points to go with six rebounds. But this was a contest in which the Buffs’ depth was on display, even with freshman guard KJ Simpson sidelined due to a concussion he suffered against Washington State.
Forward Jabari Walker played only 4 minutes, 24 seconds in the first half after picking up two quick fouls, but he returned to the fray after halftime to post his seventh double-double of the season and the ninth of his career with 11 points and a career-best-tying 13 rebounds. Freshman guard Julian Hammond III, again playing more minutes with Simpson sidelined, went 4-for-4 on 3-pointers and finished with 14 points. And while sophomore Luke O’Brien didn’t score a point, he contributed five rebounds and a career-high four assists in just 14 minutes.
“I just tried to be a good leader off the court and tried to encourage the guys,” Walker said. “I understand when I get two fouls like that I’m probably not going back in if I don’t need to go back in. Just prepared myself to sit on the bench and see the game from that perspective, and then get ready for the second half.”
CU put together its top first-half shooting performance of the season with a .556 mark, finishing .484 overall while going 8-for-20 on 3-pointers. The Buffs outrebounded UW 47-27 and, after committing 12 turnovers during the first half, CU committed just two after halftime.
While Bajema finished 6-for-9 overall, the Buffs held the remainder of UW’s players to just a .306 mark. UW finished .362 overall, and the Buffs have held their past five opponents to 40 percent or less from the field.
“We basically learn from every game,” da Silva said. “There’s still stuff we need to improve upon, but I feel like our intensity was really good. Especially in the second half. We made some strides in comparison to the first half. Not turning the ball over, for example. There’s always things that we improve upon every game.”
What went right: CU held Washington to a .362 mark from the field and outrebounded the Huskies 47-27.
What went wrong: The Buffs committed 12 turnovers in the first half, but managed to commit just two after halftime.
Star of the game: Tristan da Silva. The sophomore forward enjoyed a huge afternoon, going 9-for-15 before finishing with a career-high 22 points along with six rebounds. Da Silva went 8-for-10 on 2-point attempts and was 3-for-3 at the free throw line.
What’s next: The Buffs will see the competition go up a few notches when they visit No. 8 Arizona on Thursday (9 p.m. MT, Fox Sports1).
Colorado 78, Washington 64
WASHINGTON (6-7, 1-2 Pac-12)
Matthews 4-7 7-7 16, Roberts 1-3 0-2 2, Bey 1-6 0-0 2, Brown 4-16 3-3 12, Davis 3-10 0-2 7, Bajema 6-9 0-0 18, Fuller 2-5 0-0 5, Wilson 0-1 0-0 0, Grant 0-1 2-2 2. Totals 21-58 12-16 64.
COLORADO (11-3, 3-1 Pac-12)
Battey 2-8 1-2 5, Walker 5-9 1-3 11, da Silva 9-15 3-3 22, Barthelemy 4-11 0-0 9, Parquet 3-5 2-2 9, Clifford 3-6 1-2 8, O’Brien 0-1 0-0 0, Hammond 5-7 0-0 14, Lovering 0-2 0-0 0. Totals 31-64 8-12 78.
Halftime — Colorado 39-28. 3-point field goals — Washington 10-23 (Bajema 6-7, Brown 1-2, Fuller 1-2, Matthews 1-2, Davis 1-6, Bey 0-4), Colorado 8-20 (Hammond 4-4, Parquet 1-1, Clifford 1-3, Barthelemy 1-4, da Silva 1-5, Battey 0-1, O’Brien 0-1, Walker 0-1). Rebounds — Washington 27 (Matthews 5), Colorado 47 (Walker 13). Assists — Washington 11 (Brown 5), Colorado 13 (O’Brien 4). Total fouls — Washington 15, Colorado 14. A — 6,145.