Buffs find re­demp­tion by run­ning past Ducks

COLORADO 91, ORE­GON 87

The Denver Post - - SPORTS - By Pat Rooney

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.”

David R. Jen­nings, Daily Cam­era

Colorado’s Tre’Shaun Fletcher pre­pares to shoot against Ore­gon dur­ing Sun­day’s game at the Coors Event Cen­ter.

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