Eugene, OR – Oregon used defensive pressure in the second half to hold off Colorado 60-56 at Matthew Knight Arena. Chris Duarte led Oregon with 18 points and added seven rebounds, two assists and a key block late in the game. D’Shawn Schwartz led the Buffaloes with 16 points and 11 rebounds. The game was a battle to see which team stayed relevant in the Pac-12 title race . The Ducks, with only three conference losses, took control of third place and drew even with UCLA in the loss column. The win was Oregon’s fourth straight.
Oregon got off to a slow start, committing six turnovers over the first seven minutes as Colorado took an early 14-6 lead. Both teams played good defense, but the shots from either team were not going down. Oregon missed six of their first seven three-pointers while the Buffaloes connected on only one of their first eight. The half was played at a slow pace with only two total fast break points. Each team shot 37 percent from the field with Colorado making 3-of-15 3s and the Ducks 3-of-11. Colorado held a 21-16 edge on the boards and took a 30-25 halftime lead. Schwartz scored 10 points on 4-of-7 shooting and Jeriah Horne added nine points for Colorado, Duarte led Oregon with nine points on 4-of-5 from the field.
The Ducks got back into the game with their pressing defense, forcing Colorado into eight turnovers in the first eight minutes of the second half. Oregon fought back from a 7-point deficit to take their first lead of the game at 44-43 on a Duarte drive with under 12 minutes to go. The Ducks finished off a 12-1 run to take a 48-43 lead on an LJ Figueroa (7 points, 6 rebounds) jumper. Colorado stayed in the game as Oregon couldn’t take advantage of three 1-and-1 opportunities at the foul line. McKinley Wright (10 points) tied the game at 48 with 4:57 remaining. After Will Richardson (11 points) had his shot blocked on a drive, Eugene Omoruyi fouled out contesting a Buffalo offensive rebound. Omoruyi finished with 13 points on 5-of-14 shooting, Colorado then tied the game at 53 on a Schwartz free throw. Duarte then made an exceptional block at the rim to prevent Colorado from taking the lead. Chandler Lawson (7 points) was subsequently fouled and made two free throws to give the Ducks a 55-53 lead. Richardson then scored on a floater after penetration to extend the lead to four points, then made 3-of-4 free throws to finish off the game.
Oregon won the game despite being out-rebounded by Colorado 43-29 including 16-6 on the offensive boards. Oregon out-shot Colorado 43 to 34 percent with both teams ineffective from deep with the Ducks hitting only 24 percent (4-of-17) and the Buffaloes 22 percent (6-of-25). Oregon forced Colorado into 11 second half turnovers (17 overall) while they only committed six turnovers in the half (14 total).
Besides Duarte, Oregon received solid play from center Franck Kepnang. The 6-11 freshman scored only four points and grabbed two rebounds over 16 minutes but clogged the middle on defense, came up with three blocks, and was aggressive offensively. He’ll likely get more playing time moving forward.
Oregon (13-4, 8-3) will face Utah at home on Saturday while Colorado (16-7, 10-6) travels to Corvallis to face Oregon State, also on Saturday. Oregon has a makeup game scheduled at USC on Monday evening. This was an important win for the Ducks as it was their best one of the year and will help with their NET rating and strength of schedule.