Evan Battey, Jabari Walker power Colorado to 80-69 win over Oregon to advance to Pac-12 semis
Evan Battey put in a 19-point, 12-rebound double-double, Jabari Walker put in an 18-point, 16-rebound double-double, and Colorado strong-armed Oregon for most of the game Thursday to take an 80-69 win and advance to the semifinals of the 2022 Pac-12 Tournament.
Oregon actually opened the game in what looked to be the driver’s seat. With 6:03 to play in the first half, it was the Ducks who held a seven-point lead. UO’s Quincy Guerrier began the game hot, with 11 of the Ducks’ first 25 points. Colorado, on the other side, missed 22 of its first 30 shots—11 of them triples.
Then the game changed over the final six minutes of the first half. Colorado started getting to the rim. An and-one conversion from Keeshawn Barthelemy opened up a kick opportunity for Walker to splash a triple. Then Tristan da Silva got to the cup for a layup. Then KJ Simpson slammed one home. Then Battey got to the rim for two of his own. In the span of about three minutes, Colorado went from down seven to up five.
It closed the first half on an 18-5 run.
Throughout the second half, Colorado kept Oregon just out of reach. The Ducks got it down to a single score on a handful of possessions, but every Oregon bucket was followed with a Colorado response. The Ducks kept the Buffs from really and truly separating in the game, but the Buffs kept the Ducks at arm’s reach. For almost the entire second half, it felt like Colorado was in complete control of things regardless of the score.
Oregon missed Will Richardson in this one. The Ducks’ leading scorer stayed home due to an illness. Jacob Young, who finished with 18 points and seven assists, did his best to run the show, but he needed another ball-handler beside him who could create and give the Ducks’ offense just a little more.
Guerrier finished with a game-high 25 points (8-18 FG, 4-10 3P) to go with 13 rebounds, but his play was spotty at the other end of the floor and his scoring wasn’t quite of the “get in your bag and do it yourself” variety. He kept the Ducks in it, to be sure. The other guys struggled to pick up the slack. De’Vion Harmon took just six shots (missing five) in 29 minutes. Eric Williams Jr. was 3-for-14 from the field and 1-for-6 from beyond the 3-point line, and he looked a little erratic when trying to create.
Still, 3 from him with 4:12 to play brought the Ducks within six points and looked to be the start of a last-gasp push.
That feeling was fleeting. Walker came down the other end, rose from the left wing, and buried his own triple. He stopped for a moment to admire the shot, arm still in the air.
“(Battey) and Jabari are carrying us right now,” head coach Tad Boyle said after the game.
That triple was the start of a 7-0 Colorado run that put the game to bed.
The Buffs (21-10) will face No. 1 seed Arizona on Friday for the right to play for a Pac-12 championship. Tip-off in that game is set for 6 p.m. PT.
The Ducks (19-14) will now wait to see if they can possibly earn a spot in what will likely be the NIT field.