STANFORD, Calif .— Just a few weeks removed from a three-game road trip that became forgettable in a hurry, this three-game road trip ended with a little bit of history.
Colorado put down the clamps defensively in the second half and headed for their chartered flight home much more happily than a few weeks ago, completing a perfect three-game sweep on the road trip with a 70-53 victory at Stanford on Saturday night.
With the win, CU has recorded three consecutive road wins within conference play for the first time in nine years. More importantly, the Buffs moved two games ahead of Stanford in the Pac-12 standings and moved three games above .500 (10-7) in the Pac-12 with three regular season games remaining.
Given Oregon’s narrow loss at Arizona, coupled with Washington’s loss against UCLA, the Buffs took sole possession of fifth-place in the conference standings and will go into the final homestand of the regular season just a half-game behind the Ducks for fourth-place.
According to research from the CU media relations staff, it is the 21st time in program history the Buffs have won three consecutive road games in conference play, and just the fourth time since 1964. Thanks to the COVID-spurred quirks in the schedule that led to Tuesday’s makeup date at Oregon State, it is the first time CU has won three true road games on the same road trip.
“They were the aggressor in the first half. Especially the first six to eight minutes, without a doubt,” said CU head coach Tad Boyle, whose club has won five in a row. “We were the aggressor in the second half. That was the big difference.”
Stanford led 31-29 at halftime but the Buffs’ defense was spectacular in the second half, at one point holding the Cardinal without a field goal for more than seven minutes while taking control with a dominant 15-1 run. Stanford shot just .321 (9-for-28) in the second half. Down the stretch the Buffs recorded stops on 16 of 20 Cardinal possessions, including 10 in a row. CU outscored Stanford 41-22 in the second half.
Stanford finished just 5-for-20 on 3-pointers, while Cardinal leading scorer Harrison Ingram went 1-for-9 with a season-low two points. In two games against the Buffs this season, both CU victories, Ingram went a combined 4-for-22 with just 10 total points. He entered Saturday’s game averaging 11.3 points per game.
“We made an adjustment. We started switching one through five and started trying to get through the ball screens. We did a better job of that in the second half,” CU sophomore Nique Clifford said. “I felt like we were more aggressive on the defensive end getting into guys and pressuring them. We had 10 consecutive stops in the second half, and that’s definitely going to help us win every ball game if we keep doing that.”
Senior Evan Battey went 3-for-3 on 3-pointers and led CU with 15 points. Clifford recorded 14 points with a team-best seven rebounds while three players — Jabari Walker, KJ Simpson, and Keeshawn Barthelemy — scored 10 points apiece to round out CU’s balanced effort.
CU shot .583 in the second half and finished with a .522 mark, the fourth time in the five-game winning streak the Buffs have shot at least 50 percent. CU went 5-for-8 on 3-pointers after halftime and 6-for-13 overall, pushing the Buffs’ league-leading 3-point percentage in conference games to .390.
“As a team, to finish this road stretch 3-0, that’s big time,” Battey said. “We’ve got two games at home next week to put us in good position. It feels good. We just tightened up and played a little tougher.”
What went right: In a dominant second half, CU went 5-for-8 on 3-pointers while holding Stanford to a .321 mark after halftime and .389 overall.
What went wrong: It was a solid all-around performance, though the Buffs didn’t make things easy for themselves when they started each half with a flurry of turnovers.
Star of the game: Evan Battey. The senior forward went 3-for-3 on 3-pointers, all of them in the second half, and finished with a game-high 15 points.
What’s next: The Buffs will take a five-game winning streak into the final homestand of the regular season, beginning Thursday against Arizona State (7 p.m., Pac-12 Network).
Colorado 70, Stanford 53
COLORADO (17-9, 10-7 Pac-12)
Battey 6-11 0-0 15, Walker 4-4 1-1 10, da Silva 2-4 0-2 4, Barthelemy 2-7 5-6 10, Clifford 5-10 3-4 14, O’Brien 1-2 0-0 2, Simpson 2-6 6-8 10, Hammond 1-1 0-0 2, Loughlin 1-1 1-2 3. Totals 24-46 16-23 70.
STANFORD (15-12, 8-9 Pac-12)
Delaire 5-7 1-2 12, Jones 3-7 1-2 8, Kisunas 0-0 2-2 2, D.Begovich 0-2 0-0 0, Beskind 1-2 0-0 2, Ingram 1-9 0-1 2, O’Connell 3-9 0-0 6, Keefe 1-5 0-0 2, Angel 2-5 1-1 5, Silva 1-3 0-0 3, Raynaud 3-4 1-3 8, Murrell 1-1 0-0 3. Totals 21-54 6-11 53.
Halftime – Stanford 31-29. 3-point field goals – Colorado 6-13 (Battey 3-3, Walker 1-1, Barthelemy 1-2, Clifford 1-3, O’Brien 0-1, da Silva 0-1, Simpson 0-2), Stanford 5-20 (Murrell 1-1, Delaire 1-2, Raynaud 1-2, Silva 1-2, Jones 1-4, Angel 0-1, Beskind 0-1, O’Connell 0-1, D.Begovich 0-2, Ingram 0-4). Fouled Out_Delaire. Rebounds – Colorado 25 (Clifford 7), Stanford 30 (Keefe 9). Assists – Colorado 10 (O’Brien 4), Stanford 7 (Delaire 2). Total Fouls – Colorado 14, Stanford 19. A – 3,263.