With the help of senior forward Evan Battey’s nearly perfect shooting performance, the Colorado Buffaloes defeated the Utah Utes 84-71 prior to entering the Pac-12 tournament. After an unforgettable senior night at home against Arizona last week, Colorado has now gone undefeated in their last two games of the regular season.
It seemed like it was raining in Utah as the Buffs could not miss from the perimeter. CU made a total of 14 threes, where nine of them were made in just the first half. As Colorado entered halftime leading 50-29, Battey and sophomore forward Jabari Walker combined for 32 points as the two teams entered their locker rooms. As Head Coach Tad Boyle reached his 20th win for the fourth consecutive season (2019-2022), he mentioned how this is the first time in over 50 season that CU achieved a winning record in away games.
“A good win for us,” Boyle said. “We could have let down, but we didn’t. This is the first time in 53 years a Colorado team has had a winning record on the road. I challenged them with that and they rose to the challenge.”
Usually the guards are sharpshooters and the forwards are defensive playmakers in the sport of basketball, but Colorado flipped the script as the big men of Battey and Walker combined for nine of the 14 three-point field goals made. Battey ended the day with 27 points while Walker contributed his team-high 16th double-double this season with his 22 points and 12 rebounds in this contest. The Buffaloes also out-rebounded the Utes 36-30 and produced eight more assists than Utah (18-10).
Boyle, a defensive-minded coach, noted the team’s positive and negative defensive efforts as they kept Utah to less than 30 points at halftime.
“We really guarded in the first half,” Boyle said. “We took our defensive assignments and really locked in. (In the second half) we got a little soft offensively and defensively,” he said. “This young team has to learn from that.”
CU will end the season holding a 20-10 record (12-8 against Pac-12 opponents) and will finish as the fourth best team in the conference. In comparison to the previous two years, CU finished worse than last year’s 23-9 squad (14-6), but slightly better than 2020’s 21-11 squad (10-8).
In comparison to Pac-12 opponents, the Buffaloes ranked first in the conference in three-point field goal percentage, second in points per shot taken, second in total free throws made, and second in free throw shooting percentage this season. Interestingly, they finished last in the conference in field goals attempted and second in total turnovers committed.
Walker explained how the energy of the team played a key role in this matchup.
“We started with energy on defense and then the shots started falling,” Walker said. “We’re playing for each other more.”
For Colorado, Evan Battey led the team in three-point field goal percentage (52%), three-point field goals made (37), and total field goal percentage (50%) this season. Sophomore guard Keeshawn Barthelemy also helped by leading in assists (75) and three-point field goals attempted (110) as well.
Jabari Walker was undoubtedly the Buff’s most effective player, as he led the team in 10 significant categories: double-doubles (16), field goals made (146), field goals attempted (311), free throws made (119), free throws attempted (151), total points (440), offensive rebounds (60), defensive rebounds (221), total rebounds (281), and steals (22). After Walker tallied his personal record of five assists in a game, Boyle discussed his outstanding performance.
“He did a great job tonight,” Boyle said. “He made a lot of great basketball plays.”
The Colorado Buffaloes will enter the Pac-12 tournament as the fourth seed in the conference, which grants them a first-round bye. The Buffs will play the winner of the game between the fifth seed Oregon Ducks and the twelfth seed Oregon State Beavers game that occurs on Wednesday, March 9th. Either Oregon team will play CU in the quarterfinals on Thursday, March 10 at 3:30 MST at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nev.
Contact CU Independent Managing Editor Brett Polley at firstname.lastname@example.org.