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Home cooking: Colorado men’s basketball bounces back with rout of Oregon

BOULDER,CO:January 5:Colorado Buffaloes' Tristan da Silva goes in for the dunk against the Oregon Ducks in Boulder on January 5, 2023. (Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)
Colorado’s Tristan da Silva goes in for the dunk against the Oregon Ducks Thursday night in Boulder. (Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)

Snapshot: CU Buffs vs. Oregon Ducks

Turning point: The Buffs never trailed and led comfortably following a 22-5 run in the first half.

Buff of the game: Tristan da Silva. The junior forward responded from a tough road trip last weekend to go 11-for-17 with a career-high 30 points. Da Silva also collected seven rebounds, three assists and three steals.

What’s next?: The Buffs will seek a home sweep when they host Oregon State on Saturday night (7:30 p.m., Pac-12 Network).

The Colorado men’s basketball team has put together some of its finest performances of the season immediately after a few of the worst.

Thursday’s Pac-12 Conference showdown against Oregon was no different.

Coming off an ugly loss at lowly Cal last week, the Buffaloes dominated the visiting Ducks from the opening tip to post a 68-41 victory at the CU Events Center.

“I think you see it, not in the record itself but in the winds and losses that we’ve had,” CU forward Tristan da Silva said. “Really good games, and really tough losses for us. That’s been an issue for us the whole season so far. And that’s why we’ve got to get back into playing consistent, getting into a rhythm, and making sure that we do the stuff that we can control.”

The Buffs played shorthanded, with Jalen Gabbidon missing his second consecutive game due to a knee injury and starting point guard KJ Simpson sidelined due to an illness. But Simpson’s replacement in the starting lineup, Julian Hammond III, knocked down a 3-pointer out of the gate to set the tone, and the Buffs never trailed the rest of the way.

CU broke it open quickly, unleashing a 22-5 run during the first half to take a 19-point lead. The Buffs led 37-19 at halftime and kept pushing the advantage throughout the second half.

The Buffs defense, which was torched for a .580 shooting percentage by Cal less than a week earlier in the best performance by a CU foe in five years, held the Ducks to a .269 mark overall and a 1-for-14 performance on 3-pointers. Oregon missed its first 12 3-point attempts didn’t connect from long range until the waning minutes.

It was the second-lowest shooting percentage compiled by a Buffs opponent this season, trailing only the .254 mark recorded by nationally-ranked Tennessee in a CU win on Nov. 13.

CU junior wing Nique Clifford scored 13 points and, more importantly, took the defensive lead in shutting down Oregon standout guard Will Richardson. Richardson was coming off consecutive 20-point games but was held to five points on a 1-for-9 showing with four turnovers and only one assist.

Oregon’s second-leading scorer, 6-foot-11 center N’Faly Dante, went 1-for-4 and was held to a season-low two points. With Richardson, who entered the game averaging 36.7 minutes per contest and was coming off a full 40-minute game against Oregon State, the plan was to wear him down.

“(Richardson) got us off the floor a few times. He’s a great shot-fake guy and kind of jumps into you and is really good at getting to the foul line,” CU head coach Tad Boyle said. “The big thing with Will Richardson playing at altitude, we wanted to get the pace of the game going because he played 40 minutes the other night. You could tell in the first half he was grabbing his hips. He was sucking air. That’s what altitude does. That’s why we want to play fast.

“Nique did a great job on him for the most part. The whole defensive effort tonight — and Will Richardson is a big part of that team — was fantastic.”

Da Silva shook off his rough two-game trip through the Bay Area by going 11-for-17 for a career-high 30 points. Hammond responded in his first start of the season, recording a career-high 16 points to go with four rebounds and three assists. Luke O’Brien grabbed a career-high 11 rebounds as the Buffs dominated Oregon on the glass 46-28.

The Ducks grabbed 39 offensive rebounds in their previous two games but recorded just six against the Buffs.

“I told the team at shoot-around the team that rebounds the ball I think is going to be the team that wins,” Boyle said. “That was us, and I think the score showed that. Really proud of their effort on the boards. They came in here averaging 12 offensive rebounds a game. They had two at halftime.”

Colorado 68, Oregon 41

OREGON (8-7, 2-2)

Guerrier 3-5 3-7 10, Dante 1-4 0-0 2, Richardson 1-9 3-5 5, Rigsby 4-10 0-0 8, Soares 1-5 0-0 2, Couisnard 2-5 5-7 9, Bittle 1-5 1-2 3, Ware 1-4 0-0 2, Wur 0-2 0-0 0, Williams 0-1 0-0 0, Butler 0-1 0-0 0, Parris 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 14-52 12-21 41.

COLORADO (10-6, 2-3)

da Silva 11-17 5-7 30, Lovering 0-2 0-0 0, Clifford 6-10 0-0 13, Hadley 1-4 0-0 2, Hammond 4-9 5-5 16, O’Brien 3-5 0-0 6, Ruffin 0-4 1-2 1, Wright 0-1 0-0 0, Allen 0-2 0-0 0, Miller 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 25-55 11-14 68.

Halftime — Colorado 37-19. 3-point goals — Oregon 1-14 (Guerrier 1-2, Bittle 0-1, Butler 0-1, Wur 0-1, Richardson 0-3, Rigsby 0-3, Soares 0-3), Colorado 7-20 (da Silva 3-4, Hammond 3-6, Clifford 1-4, Allen 0-1, Wright 0-1, O’Brien 0-2, Ruffin 0-2). Rebounds — Oregon 28 (Dante 5), Colorado 46 (O’Brien 11). Assists — Oregon 3 (Dante, Richardson, Rigsby 1), Colorado 14 (da Silva, Clifford, Hammond 3). Total Fouls — Oregon 14, Colorado 18. A — 6,325.