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Colorado men’s basketball: Buffs seek home sweep against Oregon State

Colorado's J'Vonne Hadley dunks against the Oregon Ducks on Thursday night in Boulder.(Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)
Colorado’s J’Vonne Hadley dunks against the Oregon Ducks on Thursday night in Boulder.(Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)

Now is the time.

That was the message from Colorado men’s basketball coach Tad Boyle following his team’s victory against Oregon on Thursday night.

It was a win that followed the form for the Buffaloes, at least in the sense that the team has repeatedly put together some of its best performances immediately after a few of the worst. With the victory, CU rounded the corner past the halfway mark of the regular season. As impressively as the Buffs played against the Ducks, continuing to relive the lessons learned in November, instead of moving past them, will prevent the Buffs from making any sort of push in the Pac-12 Conference.

The Buffs at least have been consistent at home over the past month as they look for a sweep of the Oregon schools on Saturday night against Oregon State.

“We’ve got to build on this,” Boyle said. “That’s the key. The time is now. November’s done. December’s done. We’ve got Oregon State coming in here on Saturday. We’ve got to build from the Oregon game as we go into Oregon State.”

Playing shorthanded — the Buffs were without starting point guard KJ Simpson and reserve guard Jalen Gabbidon — CU put together a dominating 40-minute performance. It wasn’t a surprise in that fans had not seen Colorado dominate before. The Buffs were equally impressive in wins against ranked foes Tennessee and Texas A&M in November. Yet given it was just five days after CU allowed lowly California to shoot .580 while handing the Golden Bears just their second win of the season, the extreme and sudden reversal was stunning.

“We’ve seen that we can play with whoever,” said CU guard Julian Hammond III, who scored a career-high 16 points against Oregon while subbing for Simpson in the starting lineup. “But we just have nights that are off, and we know that that’s a focus for us now. Because when we’re playing good and we’re playing hard and with energy, we’re capable of beating anybody. But we’ve had too many nights where we come in flat and with no energy and let offense dictate our game.”

CU put together arguably its finest defensive effort of the season against the Ducks, holding Oregon to its lowest point total in the tenure of 13-year head coach Dana Altman. After allowing Cal to go off, the Buffs held Oregon to a .269 field goal percentage and a 1-for-14 mark on 3-pointers.

Colorado entered the Oregon game last in the Pac-12 in defensive 3-point percentage at .345, but lowered that mark to .333 (and moved to 11th in the league) going into Saturday’s game against Oregon State.

“The inconsistencies with this team, this 2022-23 CU team, has been on the defensive end,” Boyle said. “When we have shown it, and we have done it, we can beat anybody. Tennessee is a really good team. We caught them at the right time, there’s no doubt about that. But this team, that’s how good we can be when we lock in. And we did without our leading scorer (against Oregon).

“Going into (Oregon) I’m like ‘Holy cow, I hope we can score enough points to beat these guys.’ But our defense was so good I didn’t have to worry about it.”

Oregon State Beavers at CU Buffs men’s basketball

TIPOFF: Saturday, 7:30 p.m., CU Events Center.

TV/RADIO: TV — Pac-12 Network. Radio — KOA 850 AM and 94.1 FM

RECORDS: Oregon State 7-8, 1-3 Pac-12 Conference; Colorado 10-6, 2-3.

COACHES: Oregon State — Wayne Tinkle, 9th season (123-145, 281-233 overall); Colorado — Tad Boyle, 13th season (264-161, 320-227 overall).

KEY PLAYERS: Oregon State — G Jordan Pope, 6-2, Fr. (12.2 ppg, 2.7 apg, .394 3-point percentage); F Glen Taylor Jr., 6-6, So. (11.9 ppg, 3.4 rpg); F Dzmitri, 6-9, Sr. (6.1 ppg, 5.4 rpg). Colorado — G KJ Simpson, 6-2, So. (18.7 ppg, 4.3 rpg, 3.8 apg); F Tristan da Silva, 6-9, Jr. (14.9 ppg, 5.1 rpg, .522 field goal percentage); F J’Vonne Hadley, 6-6, Jr. (9.3 ppg, 6.6 rpg, .540 field goal percentage).

NOTES: Friday was Boyle’s 60th birthday…Simpson is expected to return to the rotation after missing the Oregon game due to a combination of injury/illness that kept him out of practice early this week…The Buffs are seeking their first weekend home sweep of the Oregon schools since the 2016-17 season. Colorado did beat both Oregon and OSU at home in 2020-21, but the games were played a month apart due to COVID postponements…In the past five home games, da Silva has averaged 23.2 points while shooting .613 (46-for-75) from the field. Da Silva also was 11-for-23 on 3-pointers in those five games…The Beavers have lost 16 consecutive road games…OSU is coming off a 79-60 loss at Utah on Thursday night…The Beavers lead the Pac-12 in free throw percentage (.758)…CU is back on the road next week for a two-game swing through Los Angeles, beginning Thursday at USC (7 p.m. MT, Pac-12 Network).