Even with plenty of college eligibility remaining, Keeshawn Barthelemy nonetheless has played basketball long enough to know facing adversity is a matter of when, not if.
For Barthelemy and the rest of the Colorado Buffaloes, adversity has struck in repeated waves over the past week. Yet before last week’s promising road trip unraveled dramatically, the Buffs put together one of their top all-around games of the season in an impressive road win at Oregon.
That performance feels like an eternity ago, given the sudden manpower issues that marked the ugly defeats at Washington and Washington State that followed. In reality, the Buffs will only be nine days removed from that comeback win in Eugene, and although CU will play without head coach Tad Boyle for the first time in his 12-season tenure, the Buffs are hoping to regain a little momentum in the rematch against a Ducks team that typically struggles in Boulder.
“To be honest, I knew coming into the season adversity was going to hit eventually. Somehow, some way,” said Barthelemy, CU’s redshirt sophomore point guard. “And here we are staring at the line, and the line is staring us in the face. I don’t think we should rely on our resiliency as much. We need to come out from the get-go and pounce on teams and do our thing again. We need better starts.”
Playing with a full rotation minus freshman Lawson Lovering, who suffered his season-ending knee injury a day earlier, the Buffs rallied from a 15-point first half deficit to end a six-game losing streak at Oregon on Jan. 25. Sophomore forward Tristan da Silva was a key figure in the comeback, going 5-for-6 with 15 points, but he missed the losses at Washington and WSU after getting sidelined by COVID.
Senior Elijah Parquet also played his part in the comeback, helping to hold the Pac-12’s top 3-point shooting team to a 3-for-10 mark from the arc in the second half. The season-long starter came off the bench at Oregon after missing the previous two games due to a foot injury, but Parquet returned to the sideline for the Washington State loss.
As will likely be the case for the remainder of the season, Parquet will be a game-time decision for Thursday’s rematch. Da Silva’s five-day quarantine expired after Tuesday and he could be available against the Ducks, but whether he resumes playing his usual minutes might be a question after sitting out a week.
“Things move quick. Sometimes you feel like you’re only as good as your last game, but it’s still about progressing and getting better,” said CU associate head coach Mike Rohn, who will fill in for the COVID-stricken Boyle. “We should have confidence from that (Oregon) game but we know it’s not going to be easy. They’re going to be ready to get back at us.”
The fate of CU’s dominant home streak against the Ducks is in Rohn’s hands, as Oregon is 0-10 all-time in Boulder. The Ducks have won seven of their past eight games, with the Buffs’ providing that lone blemish last week.
“It’s a different ball game here,” CU leading scorer Jabari Walker said. “I know they’re really looking forward to coming in here and winning this one and evening it out. Just like the first time we played Washington here versus playing them at (their) home. It’s a different ball game. We have to put that last win aside and approach it differently coming in to this one.”
Oregon Ducks at CU Buffs men’s basketball
TIPOFF: Thursday, 8 p.m. MT, CU Events Center.
BROADCAST: TV — Fox Sports 1; Radio — 850 AM and 94.1 FM.
RECORDS: Oregon 13-7, 6-3 Pac-12 Conference; Colorado 13-8, 5-6.
COACHES: Oregon — Dana Altman, 12th season (293-117, 703-360 overall); Colorado — Tad Boyle, 12th season (246-151, 302-217 overall).
KEY PLAYERS: Oregon — G Will Richardson, Sr., 14.9 ppg, , 3.4 apg, .463 3-point percentage; G Jacob Young, R-Sr., 11.4 ppg, 2.6 apg; G De’Vion Harmon, Jr., 10.8 ppg, 2.4 apg, .397 3-point percentage. Colorado — F Jabari Walker, So., 13.8 ppg, 8.5 rpg; F Evan Battey, R-Sr., 11.6 ppg, 4.7 rpg; G Keeshawn Barthelemy, R-So., 10.7 ppg, 2.5 rpg, 2.8 apg.
NOTES: Associate head coach Mike Rohn will lead the Buffs in place of Tad Boyle, but the record book will indicate otherwise. The result still will count toward Boyle’s career ledger. The game will be the 398th for Boyle (in absentia), and Rohn as well, at CU…Excluding dates in the Pac-12 tournament, the home team had won 13 consecutive games in the series until the Buffs’ win in Eugene last week…Walker posted his ninth double-double of the season last week at Oregon with 24 points and 11 rebounds…In Pac-12 games, Oregon leads the league in overall field goal percentage (.479) and 3-point percentage (.365). The Buffs have climbed to second in Pac-12 games in 3-point percentage (.362)…CU’s homestand continues on Saturday afternoon against Oregon State (4 p.m., FS1).