Buffs find redemption by running past Ducks
COLORADO 91, OREGON 87
boulder» Xavier Talton and Tre’Shaun Fletcher each struggled through what arguably were their worst games of the season earlier on the Colorado Buffaloes’ homestand.
On Sunday, those frustrations were long forgotten. Both players turned in stellar performances while leading a dominant effort by the CU bench, paving the way for a thrilling 91-87 win against Oregon in a Pac-12 showdown at the Coors Events Center, drawing 8,459 despite competing against the Broncos’ home playoff game.
CU’s bench accounted for almost half the team’s offense with 45 points.
“I think it’s just really about being in the gym and constantly working on your game,” Talton said. “The coaches are always telling us to practice how you’re going to play. Just being in the gym
really just helps you get confidence and build it up.”
Talton had not scored more than three points in any of the previous seven games before breaking out against the Ducks, finishing with a season-high 13 points while adding three assists.
Fletcher, who was 0-for-3 with three turnovers in CU’s previous game against Oregon State, scored 14 points to post his first double-digit scoring effort since Dec. 6 at Colorado State.
Sophomore forward Tory Miller and freshman guard Thomas Akyazili also provided huge contributions off the bench. With starting forward Wes Gordon slowed after suffering a sprained thumb, Miller more than picked up the slack, going 4-for-6 from the field and at the free-throw line to finish with 12 points and seven rebounds.
Akyazili turned in another efficient all-around effort with six points, three assists, three rebounds and four steals in 18 minutes.
“That was big-time. I’m really happy for these guys,” said starting center Josh Scott, whose fourth consecutive double-double was overshadowed by the play of the reserves.
CU (14-4, 3-2) led 46-41 at the half but trailed by five points after Oregon (14-4, 3-2) put together an 11-0 run early in the second half.
A game that saw 15 lead changes overall remained tied at 78-78 after Oregon’s Dwayne Benjamin hit his third consecutive 3-pointer with 3:25 left.
CU responded with four straight points from Fletcher and, after a lone Oregon free throw, Akyazili found Scott for a 3-point play that gave the Buffs a sixpoint edge with 1:35 to play. CU hit enough free throws the rest of the way to keep the Ducks at bay.
“It was a big-time win for our program against a very, very quality team,” CU coach Tad Boyle said, adding, “I’ve told our guys all year I’m not sure we’ve beaten a bona fide, legitimate NCAA Tournament team this year, but (Sunday night) we did.”
Colorado’s Tre’Shaun Fletcher prepares to shoot against Oregon during Sunday’s game at the Coors Event Center.