On Thursday, Feb. 16th, the Colorado Buffaloes had one of their best showings of the year, defeating the Arizona State Sun Devils 67-59 in Tempe, Arizona. This was a massive win for a Buffs team that has really struggled on the road (1-8 record before entering this game).
It was once again the Tristan da Silva show throughout the contest. The 6 foot 9 inch junior from Munich, Germany, wasted no time having an impact on this game, shooting 50% from the field on just 14 shots and finishing the night with 23 points and three huge 3-pointers made.
It now seems as though da Silva is powering the Buffs offensively and making difficult shots no matter the opponent. With just over sixty seconds left in this affair, da Silva went up and got a huge offensive rebound then caught a swing pass from Nique Clifford and finally drilled a dagger three to put the game out of reach for ASU.
“I knew that the shot clock was at about five, six seconds,” Tristan da Silva said. “I felt like that was a good look late in the shot clock and I just took it.”
Da Silva’s knowledge of the game is surreal to watch; he understands clock management and knows where to be every possession. On the season, da Silva is now up to 11 games with 20+ points, each one even more impressive and efficient than the last.
“Players make plays at the end of the game,” Colorado Head Coach Tad Boyle said. “Tonight our players made those plays.”
Colorado and Arizona State were throwing haymakers early, constantly going back and forth, going shot for shot with each other. With four minutes left in the first half, the Buffs trailed 22-30 and then went on a splendid offensive surge and ended the half tied at 32 with the Sun Devils. KJ Simpson splashed a deep 3-pointer with just seconds remaining to get Colorado locked even with Arizona State.
Luke O’Brien started in this game, in one of his few starts on the season, but had a terrific outing in the desert Thursday evening. O’Brien finished with nine points, 10 rebounds, three assists and a season high of 36 minutes logged. He was a force defensively and snatched up crucial rebounds for the Buffs.
“Luke played his tail off tonight,” Boyle said. “He played with great energy and really rebounded the ball for us and was aggressive.”
Colorado again had a lot of turnovers in this game but was able to overcome these mishaps with some stellar defense coming down the stretch. The Buffs held the Sun Devils to an abysmal 33 true shooting percentage in the second half combined with ASU hucking up 15 3-pointers and only converting three of them. Colorado also out-rebounded Arizona State by eight total boards which proved to be crucial in their victory Thursday.
Former CU buff star point guard Mckinley Wright IV (backup point guard of the Dallas Mavericks) and future Buff and five star commit Cody Williams (No. 8 prospect in the country) were in attendance in Tempe Thursday night. For Colorado to get a win on the road against a good ASU team with these two NBA-caliber players witnessing is huge for Buffs basketball and bodes well for the future.
“The reason you get into coaching is for the young men,” Boyle said. “It’s not for you and your record; it’s about the kids you coach and the experience they’re having. One thing about this team, they’ve kept their heads up, they’ve kept their spirits up. Nobody likes to lose but this team hung together and tonight they showed some real toughness down the stretch.”
The Buffs face off against No. 8 ranked Arizona on Saturday, Feb. 18th in Tucson before returning home to Boulder to finish the season against USC, UCLA (No. 4 in the country), and Utah before the PAC-12 tournament begins in early March.
Contact CU Independent Staff Writer Griffin Dreifaldt at Griffin.Dreifaldt@colorado.edu.