With the tone of its regular season on the line and the conference tournament looming, Colorado basketball made quite the statement on Thursday night as it decimated the Stanford Cardinal for coach Tad Boyle’s 100th Coors Events Center win, 91-72.
“I think this team showed when we play together—because we don’t have one guy that can carry this squad—when we play together and share it offensively and play with energy and passion defensively, this team can be as good as they want to be and beat any team in our league,” Boyle said.
Throughout the matchup, the Buffs (17-13, 7-10) played one of the most complete games they’d had all year. They shared the ball well and hardly let it slip out of their hands, finishing with a season-high 25 assists and a season-low six turnovers in a complete 180 from many of their conference games.
“We’ve been talking all week about sharing the ball, getting the best shot,” senior guard Derrick White said. “When we’re moving the ball like that and nobody has an agenda, nobody’s hunting their shots, we’re hard to guard.”
From beginning to end, the ball-sharing efficiency was the game-changer.
A multitude of Buffaloes contributed in the double-digit scoring range, led by Xavier Johnson (15 points), George King (15), and Lucas Siewert (15), Wes Gordon (10), Deleon Brown (10) and Tory Miller (10). Although White was just one point shy of adding his name to that list, he dominated on the ball-sharing front as he dished out eight dimes.
After a fast-paced Buffalo start to the second half, the Cardinal (14-15, 6-11) didn’t stand much of a chance.
For the night, the Buffs excelled on offense as they finished with 56.5 percent to the Cardinal’s 45 percent. They also drained 11 three-point shots out of 28 attempts.
The Buffs and Cardinal got out to a quick start on Thursday night as the Buffs garnered the early lead but couldn’t hold onto it for long. As the first half wore on, the two teams exchanged blows in a tumultuous offensive display, with eight lead changes and seven ties.
Towards the end of the first, Colorado gained some traction as they on the Cardinal and led by as much as eight points, 39-31, with two minutes to go in the half.
At the midpoint, the Buffs held the 41-35 edge over their tree-like opponents as both teams shot efficiently at 50 percent or higher.
Heading into the first media timeout of the second half, the Buffs made quick work as they ignited a 16-5 run to bring the pain with a 57-40 edge over the Cardinal.
“That was the best first start of the second half we’ve had all year,” Boyle said. “Again, the credit goes to our players. Our fans are great, our crowd is great, but they thrive off how we play.”
As the half wore on so did Colorado’s finesse on offense. After marking nine assists before halftime, they successfully shared the ball exponentially more in the last 20 minutes of play.
By the end of the night, Colorado’s stellar offensive performance paid off as it went on to win, 91-72. The Buffs returns to action on Saturday, March 4 as they host California at noon in the hopes of ending their regular season on a high note. The game will be broadcast on the Pac-12 Network.
“I’m proud of the way we played tonight,” King said. “Hopefully we can take what we did tonight and do it in our next game and the next game after that.”