In an absolute stunner of a game, the Colorado Buffaloes (12-10, 2-8 Pac-12) pulled off the upset of the No. 10 Oregon Ducks (19-3, 8-1 Pac-12) Saturday night at Coors Events Center, coming away with a 74-65 win. Many expected this game to be a lopsided match in Oregon’s favor. Instead, the Buffaloes handed the Ducks their first loss in conference play. The Buffs have now won two straight games, both important Pac-12 showdowns, after an eight-game skid.
The first half was mostly dominated by the Buffs, as they led by as much as nine and held the lead for a little over 16 minutes. They did it by matching, if not outdoing, Oregon’s high scoring offense. Four three-pointers in the course of one minute allowed the Buffs to put the Ducks on the defensive early.
Colorado started the game hot, as the Ducks led the game for just 1:25 during the first twenty minutes of play. However, Oregon stayed in it with a string of big threes of its own but could not manage to catch up until the last few minutes of the half.
Turnovers were a major factor as well as both teams recorded 11 each in the first 20 minutes. Three of those came off sneaky steals from senior guard Derrick White. Five impressive blocks during the game also helped the Buffs, with senior forward Wesley Gordon denying Oregon players in the post twice.
At the half, the Buffs found themselves with a tight 35-34 lead. For a contest that was supposed to be a blowout, the Buffs were putting on a show and holding their own against the Ducks.
The Buffs started the second half with some sloppy misses, but they held up on defense and quickly found their groove to build a good sized lead. Oregon once again fought back though, working in the post to tie up the score 47-47 with 9:45 to go.
Solid defensive rebounding from both sides kept things tight and missed layups from CU prevented the team from getting much separation. That changed when White nailed a wide-open three to put the Buffs up 56-51 with four and a half minutes left in the game, igniting a 6-1 run for the Buffs. White finished the game with a team-leading 23 points. He went 8-of-16 from the floor in the win.
Colorado played sound defense against the Ducks, whose five starters all averaged at least 11 points per game heading into Saturday evening’s matchup. The largest unanswered run by the Ducks in the game was six points.
As the crowd at Coors Event Center began to lose their minds in the final minutes, the Buffs came up big, building a 10-point lead with three minutes left. The Ducks were ineffective from the floor, allowing the Buffs to hold on and come away with the massive upset. A scuffle in the last minute resulting in the ejection of both freshmen guard Bryce Peters and Oregon’s Dylan Ennis couldn’t damper the spirits of an exhilarated Colorado team.
On the day, Colorado edged the Ducks in the shooting department, making about 42 percent of its shots, compared to the roughly 39 percent conversion rate held by Oregon. The Buffs did squander some opportunities from the free throw line, making just 16-of-26, or about 62 percent, of their attempts.
“This could be how we turn it around” said George King, junior guard, in the postgame press conference. He was second on the team with 13 points.
“They didn’t get their heads down and they kept competing,” said Tad Boyle, head coach. “They did what they had to do against some really good players.”
Up next for Colorado is a road trip to Palo Alto Thursday night for a matchup with the Stanford Cardinal. Tipoff is 9 p.m. (MST)
Contact CU Independent Sports Staff Writer Kyle Rini at firstname.lastname@example.org.