On Sunday, Feb. 5, the Colorado Buffaloes blew out the Stanford Cardinals, who were coming in off of a five-game winning streak. Colorado won the game 84-62 at the CU Events Center in Boulder. After the victory on Sunday night, CU is 14-11 (7th in the Pac-12) and 11-2 at home.
Tristan da Silva and KJ Simpson both scored over 20 points on Sunday evening. Da Silva (25 points) shot a strong 9-14 (64.2%) from the field, combined with three made 3’s and four free throws. Simpson got his 21 points quite differently, shooting 5-11 (45.4%) and tying a career-high with 11 free throws.
“What a great win for our program at this stage of the season, [considering] where we’re at and what we need right now,” said head coach Tad Boyle.
On Sunday night, the two halves looked very different for the Buffs. During the first half, the Buffs struggled defensively, giving up some easy looks to Stanford. The first period ended with a 39-39 tie.
However, following a pep talk from Boyle at halftime, the team improved significantly for the remainder of the game. CU opened up the second half with a 16-0 run. Meanwhile, Stanford failed to score a single point for nearly seven minutes, as Colorado’s second half defensive adjustments became the nail in the coffin for Stanford’s comeback hopes.
“In the second half, we switched that action,” Boyle said. “I could tell our guys were locked in mentally [on the defensive adjustments].”
Colorado did a great job of getting to the free throw line tonight and converting their chances, going 17-18 from the stripe. The Buffs also shot nearly 50% from beyond the arc (9-19 from the 3-point range).
Converting at the charity stripe will likely prove to be one of Colorado’s keys to success moving forward. When they manage to convert free throws, they can be in the upper echelon of the Pac-12; however, they often struggle to do this consistently.
“If [the shot] is not falling, then just attack,” Simpson said. “That is my mindset. [I need to be] able to draw a couple of fouls and get to the free throw line, to get some points up on the board.”
This was Colorado’s first complete game without their starter J’Vonne Hadley, who will be out for the rest of the season due to a hand injury. So far Hadley had a very promising season, averaging eight points and six rebounds a game and proving himself as a strong defensive force.
Colorado will now need to lean on the likes of Jalen Gabbidon and Luke O’Brien to fill Hadley’s role for the remainder of the season. On Sunday night, O’Brien and Gabbidon played some excellent ball, even though the box score may not portray it.
“Their roles are going to become so much more significant,” Boyle said. “Jalen and Luke will be key for this team as we head down this stretch in February and March.”
Colorado held Stanford senior Spencer Jones to only 13 points during the game, which proved crucial to the Buffs’ victory. Jones dropped 25 points on this same Buffs team earlier in the season; however, this time, Boyle’s game planning shut him down, especially during the second half.
“Spencer Jones is a hell of a player,” Boyle said. “I thought our half-court defense in the second half was as good as it’s been all year.”
This was a much-needed win for the Buffaloes team, especially considering the six-game losing skid in January. Simpson and da Silva dominated the game offensively, while the rest of the squad played defensively sound, team-first basketball. This is the recipe that often results in wins for Boyle’s program, as it did on Sunday night.
Next, Colorado headed out for a three-game road trip last week. The first match took place on Saturday, Feb. 11, against the Utah Utes. The upcoming matches will be against the Arizona State Sun Devils on Feb. 16 and the Arizona Wildcats on Feb. 18.
Contact CU Independent Staff Writer Griffin Dreifaldt at email@example.com.