It was never a question of if but rather when senior forward Evan Battey would reach 1,000 career points. For him, it happened Sunday night at the CU Events Center where Colorado (6-1, 1-0 in Pac-12) beat Stanford (4-3, 0-1 in Pac-12) 80-76 in its Pac-12 opener. Battey scored a career-high 22 points to go with, making all four of his three points to lead the Buffaloes to victory.
Battey becomes the 38th player in team history to surpass the 1,000 point total and the fourth player from head coach Tad Boyle’s 2017 recruiting class to achieve the feat, joining McKinley Wright IV, D’Shawn Schwartz, and Tyler Bey.
“It was special,” said Battey on his career night. “I can’t really find the words. I’m not really worried about the individual stats themselves. I just want to win games.”
On a night where the Buffs’ defense struggled, the bright spots were limited, but sophomore forward Tristan da Silva was one of them. Da Silva guarded Stanford’s star freshman Harrison Ingram for most of the night and held him to only 8 points on 3-13 shooting.
“I thought Tristan da Silva’s effort against him (Harrison) was excellent,” said Boyle. “He’s (Harrison) is a tough matchup, but it is nice when you get a 6’10 guy to guard him.”
Stanford shot well aside from Harrison, including 50% from the field and 41% from the three-point range. Junior forward Spencer Jones was a thorn in CU’s side, shooting 5-6 from the field and 3-4 from three. Jones’s performance included a game-tying three to make it 66-66 with 3:58 left. CU’s offense had to answer down the stretch, and they did through multiple critical free throws by sophomore guard Keeshawn Barthelemy.
Colorado’s offense was the story of the night, contributing to their 80 points. In addition to Battey’s career-high 22 points. The Buffs had four other players in double-figures. Sophomore forward Jabari Walker added 13 points and 12 rebounds while da Silva, freshman guard KJ Simpson, and Barthelemy also hit the double-figure mark.
Boyle praised Simpson’s performance as he provided a needed spark for CU off the bench.
“I’m really pleased with his progress,” said Boyle. “I think he’s coming along. Offensively, he played with a better pace tonight and made a really nice move in the first half. He can score the ball when he gets it to the rim. He’s a good finisher. He has grown up before our eyes.”
One key stat for the Buffaloes last night was the turnover margin. While the Buffs only committed six turnovers, they forced the Cardinal into 15 giveaways. In a tight game like tonight, not giving away possessions was crucial.
“Limiting the turnovers was big for us,” said da Silva. “Taking teams out of transition and not giving them easy buckets is really important for us. We can’t get a shot up if we are not executing on offense. If we take care of the ball and execute, we have more chances to score and more chances to succeed.”
Looming large for the Buffs is a week that includes two top-25 matchups. On Wednesday, Colorado will face No. 5 UCLA in Los Angeles before returning to Boulder to host No. 13 Tennessee Volunteers on Saturday.
“We get a chance to go to UCLA,” said Boyle. “All you can ask for in life is an opportunity. We’ve got a great opportunity ahead of us, and we’ll go let it all hang out.”