Eugene, OR – The Oregon Ducks hosted the Colorado Buffaloes in a rescheduled match-up due to COVID protocols Tuesday night at Matthew Knight Arena. The Ducks had skyrocketed up to 49th in the net rankings after six straight wins. Oregon’s win streak was snapped due to the performance of Jabari Walker, who had 24 points and 11 rebounds to lead the Buffaloes to an 82-78 come from behind win. Oregon tried clawing their way back into the game late, but Evan Battey’s free throw with 4.9 seconds remaining pushed the lead to four, ending any last second heroics.
Oregon raced out to a 13-0 lead with all five starters contributing a basket during the run. They connected on five of their first six attempts from the field. Quincy Guerrier was in a groove early, scoring the basketball both inside and out. The lead stretched to 15 points, after the 6-8 forward drove right to the hoop, scoring the bucket and getting the foul. He would compete the 3-point play with the made free throw. The lead did not stick for long, and Oregon’s hot shooting began to turn cold, as they went four and half minutes without a field goal, allowing the Buffaloes to gain momentum. Guerrier snapped the drought with a lay-in in transition, immediately after a Colorado turnover, extending the lead to nine points with just over four minutes remaining in the half. The Ducks would end the first half with a 42-37 advantage. Guerrier finished the game with a season high 22 points (8-for-15 FG) and six rebounds.
Colorado trailed 20-5 with inconsistent play early on, but that only fueled sophomore Jabari Walker to take over the game. Listed at 6-9, 215 pounds, Walker posted up on the block with his teammates looking to find him often. He seemed to do it all at times for the Buffaloes, scoring in the post, converting multiple 3-point plays, and controlling the boards at both ends of the floor. In addition, the potential 2022 NBA Draft prospect showed his ability to step out and hit an uncontested 3-pointer, even though this season he is shooting only 26 percent from downtown. Also, Walker went a perfect 5-of-5 from the strike, helping the Buffaloes make 20-of-22 free throw attempts for the game. Walker would finish with 24 points (9-for-11 FG), 11 rebounds, and two assists. The forward had his best overall performance of the season and at a crucial time to keep Colorado’s hope for any at-large bid in the upcoming NCAA tourney.
Two other strong performances for Colorado came by sophomores Tristan Da Silva and Keeshawn Barthelemy. Da Silva, the brother of former Pac-12 standout, Oscar Da Silva, played a fundamentally sound game. His shooting kept the Buffaloes within striking distance in the first half with two spot-up 3-pointers. At the 12-minute mark of the second half, Da Silva, a 6-9 wing tied the game at 57 all, by converting a 3-point play. Colorado had trailed the entire game up until this point in the action. His lay-in and made free throw capped off a 9-0 run that gave the Buffaloes the momentum down the stretch. He also made a huge 15-foot jumper in the final minute of the game right before the shot clock expired, where the possession looked bleak and the Ducks were pressing for a comeback. Da Silva had 15 points (5-of-6 FG), two rebounds and two blocks in the contest. Barthelemy had one of his best outings in his young career, which included making several key free throws during crunch time. He went 9-for-9 from the free throw line, 5-for-9 from the field to score 19 points. The under control and savy point guard out of Montreal, Canada, added four assists, two rebounds and two steals.
Down the stretch, Oregon’s De’Vion Harmon made effort plays to give the Ducks a chance to stage a late comeback. He penetrated strong to the basket and scored drawing a foul to make it a one possession game, but failed to make the free throw. Moments later, he quickly brought the ball up the court and hit a deep 3-pointer with 9.7 seconds left to get the Ducks within three. He finished with 14 points on 4-for-9 shooting, while adding 2 assists and 2 steals. Will Richardson, who scored Oregon’s last seven points of the first half, tallied 17 points for the game. He shot 5-for-8 from the field and 6-for-7 from the strike. He dished out four assists, grabbed three rebounds, but had four turnovers. Colorado’s defense stepped up in the second half slowing down the 6-5 senior, including forcing the Ducks to take some tough 3-pointers, and held them to 35 percent from downtown.
For the game, Colorado outworked the Ducks, especially in the rebounding department where they had a 30-22 edge. In addition, the Buffaloes had 18 second chance points compared to Oregon’s 11, which turned out to be a major factor in the contest. The only downfall for Colorado in the stat column was turning the ball over 17 times, but they made up over for it by shooting 50 percent from the field and hitting on 8-of-15 from the 3-point line. Colorado’s strong push late in the game to take and hold the lead was backed up by their strong defensive play. Late in regulation, Oregon was held scoreless for a four-minute stretch for the second time in the game as the Buffaloes took the win.
Oregon (12-7, 5-3) will have their third home game in a row against rival Oregon State (3-14, 1-6) on January 30th. Colorado (13-6, 5-4) heads north to take on Washington (9-8, 4-3) on January 27th.