Contact CU Independent Men’s Basketball Writer Alissa Noe at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow her on Twitter @crazysportgirl1.
The Colorado men’s basketball team desperately needed a win against Oregon State on Wednesday night after starting out 1-2 in conference play, and boy did they get one heck of a victory by dispatching the Beavers 71-54.
“That was a great effort,” head coach Tad Boyle said. “I thought the way we defended, the way rebounded in the second half and even in the first half…I thought Wesley Gordon’s offensive rebounding combined with Josh Scott’s defensive rebounding was the difference in the game. Wesley got us extra possessions and I thought our defensive effort pretty much the whole night was pretty good.”
Junior forward Gordon contended for player of the game as he finished with 12 points, 14 rebounds and six blocks. He now has 128 blocks on his career, which moves him to sixth place on the all-time list in Colorado basketball history.
“It’s good that I played this well, but I mean I just try to focus on defense really and let the offense just come,” Gordon said of his big night.
But OSU’s Gary Payton II, who will no doubt be a lottery pick in the draft later this year, takes the player of the game accolade with 26 points and 15 rebounds. He scored nearly half of his team’s points effortlessly.
The Buffs hosted a block party on Wednesday night at the Coors Events Center as they finished the game with 10 total rejections, thanks to an additional three from senior forward Scott and one from freshman guard Thomas Akyazili, who also scored eight points.
Akyazili defended Payton near the end of the game, and did an exceptional job of it, despite of what the final stat sheet may say.
“It was fun. He was really good — he scored a lot of points, so I just came out and tried to guard him as hard as I could, and after the game he gave me props, so that was fun,” Akyazili said.
Additionally, Gordon recorded the seventh double-double of his career and Scott added his 32nd, the ninth of the year as he grabbed 12 off the glass.
For the game, the Buffs shot 42.3 percent from the field (22-52) and 37.5 percent from behind the arc (6-16). The Beavers fared much worse, going 29.5 percent from the field (18-61) and 21.4 percent on the triple (3-14).
The most notable area the Beavers won out in the end is the turnover battle, with 12 to Colorado’s 18, but the Buffs out-rebounded them 48-33.
“I think we rebounded and played good defense,” Scott said after the game. “I think in the first half Payton was kind of getting us in transition a little bit, and I think in the second half we kind of contained, and then we just did what Coach Boyle told us to do.”
The game got off to a quick start with both teams hitting shots early on, but the Buffs initially won on the defensive end of the ball. They shamed the Beavers on a single possession in the opening minutes by blocking not one, but two shots before getting the ball back.
Oregon State and Colorado spent much of the first half deadlocked, but midway through the Buffs started to pull away a little, 20-12, before the Beavers started fighting back. At halftime, the score read 29-25 in Colorado’s favor.
For the half, each team played decent offense. The Buffs shot 40 percent from the field (10-25) but bested the Beavers from beyond the arch, making 5 of 9 (55.6 percent). The Beavers, on the other hand, shot 37.9 percent from the field (11-29) and made none of their six attempts from deep.
It should also be noted that OSU’s Drew Eubanks may have made the ESPN Not Top 10 for eternity on Wednesday night as he got the ball on the fast break, went up for an uncontested dunk and lost the handle. He missed an uncontested dunk.
The Buffs kept up their level of competition for a good portion of the second half, but with 12 and a half minutes remaining, thanks to a series of despicable Colorado turnovers and a near-three minute scoring drought, they gave up the lead to Oregon State, 38-37.
That didn’t last long.
As if they were responding to a threat, the Buffs immediately dialed in on a 7-0 run to put themselves back up 44-38. A ferocious put-back dunk from Gordon added fuel to the fire as he drew every single fan in Coors to their feet.
With 5:48 remaining, the Buffs extended their lead to 56-45, after a 12-5 run.
Oh, but it didn’t end there. The Buffs continued to shove the Beavers deeper into the hurt locker as the pain train rolled on. With 1:16 on the clock, the Buffs extended their lead to a devastating 18 points, 71-53. The Beavers would add one more point before time expired, as the Buffs pulled away for a 71-54 victory.
Game over in Boulder.
The Buffs head back to their home court on Sunday, Jan. 17 against Oregon as they hope to continue their win streak with another top-notch effort. After all, it is Duck hunting season. Tipoff is set for 5 p.m. MST, and the game will be broadcast on the Pac-12 Networks.