It was an opportunity Tristan da Silva believes he would have recognized a few months back. However, having the confidence to be aggressive enough to take advantage of it is a skill da Silva has had to develop.
During his ongoing hot streak, da Silva has started blending his impressive IQ with newfound aggression.
An example was on display during Sunday’s victory by the Colorado men’s basketball team against Stanford. Early in the second half, da Silva, CU’s versatile, 6-foot-9 forward, found himself matched up against the Cardinal’s 6-foot-2 guard Michael O’Connell. Da Silva wasted no time taking advantage of the mismatch, backing down the much smaller O’Connell for an easy bucket.
That sequence was part of a 16-0 run to open the second half and part of a 25-point evening for da Silva in his fifth consecutive 20-point game. It’s a hot streak da Silva and the Buffaloes hope to continue when they visit Utah on Saturday (8 p.m. MT, FS1).
Asked if he would have recognized that advantageous situation early in the season da Silva, a player fluent in five languages, replied: “I probably would have recognized it. I don’t know if I would have acted upon it. The more aggressive mindset probably helps me there.
“We’re trying to create mismatches out there. I remember the sequence there. They were trying to switch and I figured I might post him up because there’s a little height difference there. I can play with my back to the basket. I can face-up. I can shoot from outside. I feel like I’m a mismatch for a couple guys out there, whether it’s a big man or a guard.”
In a season that has been inconsistent in large part because of the Buffs’ up-and-down offense, da Silva is emerging as a consistent, top-flight scorer in the Pac-12 Conference.
Da Silva is the first CU player to record five consecutive 20-point games since Josh Scott in December of 2015. The last Buffs player to post six consecutive 20-point games was Alec Burks, who had seven in a row late in the 2010-11 season. With 10 20-point games to his credit this year, da Silva is the first CU player to record that many since Derrick White posted 15 in 2016-17.
This has been a streak about efficiency, not shooting volume. During the streak, da Silva has shot .587 overall (44-for-75) and a stellar .609 from 3-point range (14-for-23). Like many of his teammates, da Silva struggled at the free throw line early this season but has gone 15-for-17 during the five-game streak. That run has raised da Silva’s free throw percentage in Pac-12 play to .739 after posting a .688 mark in nonconference games.
“Tristan’s so smart. His basketball IQ’s off the charts,” CU head coach Tad Boyle said. “You don’t have to tell him a lot of things. You tell him once he gets it, he understands it.
“He’s playing with unbelievable confidence. Unbelievable poise. He’s got a great pace about him. He doesn’t get sped up. He’s unselfish. He knows he has to score for our team but he doesn’t force it. He doesn’t take bad shots. And he’s finishing. He can play inside. He can play outside. Tristan’s playing at a high, high level right now.”