Colorado runs wild over Washington in 78-64 win to get No. 300 for Tad Boyle
Colorado had first-half runs of 10-0 and 17-5 Sunday afternoon to build some distance between itself and Washington at the halftime break.
The Huskies threw zone, man, small-ball rotations, and more traditional lineups at Colorado in the hopes of find some kind of rhythm in the game, but little worked. The Buffaloes dominated the paint in just about every way and completely handcuffed Washington inside the 3-point line offensively to win.
The Buffs (11-3, 3-1 Pac-12) walked away with a 78-64 victory over the Huskies (6-7, 1-2 Pac-12) to cap an extended weekend that saw CU win both games against the Washington schools in their first action since mid-December.
“I mentioned we’d find out this weekend how well we’ve practiced,” coach Tad Boyle said after the game. “We’re still a team that has a high ceiling that can continue to get better at many, many things, but they find a way to win when things get tough. They didn’t get too tough tonight but I’m really pleased with this weekend.”
Colorado beat Washington State on Thursday, and then followed it up with a solid win over UW Sunday afternoon.
The Buffs turned it over 12 times in the first 20 minutes, and Washington hit six of its 11 triples in the first half to keep things close. Without it, Colorado might have blown the game open.
Led by 13 rebounds from Jabari Walker, Colorado completely owned the boards. It held a 47-27 advantage in the rebounding department. Boyle’s group was also plus-18 in the paint, plus-eight on the offensive glass, and plus-five in second-chance points.
“It was huge,” Boyle said.
When the turnovers cut in the second half—they had only two—CU was able to get its drivers rolling. Walker scored nine in the second half, Tristan da Silva and Julian Hammond III each had eight.
For the game, da Silva poured in a game-high 22 points.
“Tristan, we want him to be aggressive, and he was aggressive tonight,” Boyle said. “When Tristan’s aggressive and Jabari’s aggressive and Evan (Battey)’s aggressive and Keeshawn (Barthelemy)’s aggressive, when we play with aggressiveness we’re pretty darn good.”
And the looked it. The lead ballooned to as large as 19 in the second half. Washington was able to fight it back to five with 12:23 to play, but CU hit back with a 14-4 run to stretch back out in front for good.
“Take care of the ball, get great shots. Basketball’s a simple game. I try not to overcomplicate it,” Boyle said. “It’s funny, our players were looking at the bench tonight for plays to be called and I told them at halftime, I told them at timeouts, ‘This is not a game where we need to run sets.’ We just need to get the ball where we want to get the ball, which is in the paint, high-post/low-post, penetration, and we’ve gotta make plays for each other.
“Because Washington plays the zone, they mix things up to kind of keep you off balance, you can’t be too play-dependent. And I don’t want to get to be where we’re too play-dependent. We’ve got plays to get the ball to certain guys at certain areas but (this was) another step in the right direction in that regard.”
Overall, Boyle liked the aggressiveness his leaders played with. da Silva got to 22 points on a really strong 1.12 points-per-possession clip. Hammond got 14 points on seven shots. Walker was 5-for-9 from the field. But the Buffs only had 13 assists on 31 made baskets.
“The other night against Washington State we had 17 assists. That’s a great number. We want that every single night,” Boyle said. “Tonight we only had 13 on 31 baskets which means we’re doing a lot of stuff off the bounce and we’re not maybe sharing it as much.
As the Buffs move into a potentially rocky stretch of games against top-of-the-league teams, it’ll be important to try and find that balance between playing within the flow of the offense, not being too play-dependent, but not relying on shot-makers to create for only themselves.
“The biggest thing I’m trying to impress upon our team is the fact we have to try to make plays for each other,” Boyle said. “Being aggressive doesn’t mean I make a play for myself, but I’m getting the ball in the lane, I’m attacking, and if two guys guard you, somebody’s open and we have to give it up.”
CU will face Arizona, USC, and UCLA in its next four games. That trio has a combined 35-2 record so far this season and boast three of the top 20 defenses in college basketball, per KenPom’s adjusted defensive efficiency rating.
“Figured out a way to beat a good, solid team tonight,” Boyle said. “It doesn’t get any easier. Now we’ve gotta take this show on the road.
“… The things we’ve gotta get better at, we’ve got to get better at. Transition defense is one of those. That’ll be tested in Tucson next week, I can promise you that, and in Tempe as well.”
For Washington, it has now lost five of its last seven games. Despite a 10-for-23 showing from beyond the arc, the Huskies struggled mightily inside it—they shot just 11-for-35 on 2s. During that seven-game stretch, the Huskies have shot above 42% from the field only once.
They were at 36% for the game Sunday, kept afloat by a 6-of-7 performance from Cole Bajema. The UW guard had 18 points after scoring 15 on 5-of-8 shooting from 3 the last time out. It’s a mini-run Washington will hope turns into something more, as Bajema had scored more than five points in a game only once all season prior to this week.
UW will look to get back on track on Wednesday, Jan. 12, when it hosts Cal at 7 p.m. PT.
Colorado will have an extra day of rest before traveling to Tucson to face the eighth-ranked Wildcats.
That extra day will give Boyle a slight reprieve to celebrate a pretty significant personal moment.
300 Ws as a Head Coach.
— Colorado Men's Basketball (@CUBuffsMBB) January 9, 2022
“We’ve got tomorrow off, so I’m gonna go to dinner with my wife and my daughter and some friends,” Boyle said. “All it means is I’ve coached great players, I’ve had good assistant players and I’m very fortunate to be the head coach at Colorado. You don’t get wins without good players. … It’s just a number.”
And he’ll look for another on Thursday, Jan. 13, in Tucson.
Colorado is trending in the right direction.
“The depth of this team is starting to grow up,” he said.