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Death, taxes and the Colorado Buffaloes defeating the Oregon Ducks in Boulder.
Tad Boyle and the Buffs beat Oregon 86-70 on Thursday night and put an exclamation point on their dominance over the Ducks at the CU Events Center. Since Coach Boyle and the Buffs joined the Pac-12 in 2011, they are 12-1 at home against Oregon. The Ducks’ lone win in Boulder occurred in 2022 when Boyle was out with COVID-19.
Thursday’s win was yet another chapter in Cody Williams’ phenomenal freshman season. A wrist injury held Williams out of seven games before he returned to the floor last week against Cal and on Thursday vs. Oregon he led all scorers and put up a career-high 23 points.
“It’s just different coming off a wrist injury,” said Williams after Thursday’s win. “Game reps are different from just shooting and practice reps. I knew it would come around. I just had to keep shooting it. My teammates trusted me, gave me open looks and I knocked them down.”
Thursday was Williams’ best shooting night of his young career as he hit 10 of his 13 field goals and went 3/4 from behind the arc. Before tonight, Williams had done most of his damage driving and finishing at the rim. Coach Boyle noted in his post-game press conference that Williams is beginning to take advantage of how teams scout and attempt to defend him.
“I think people are starting to play him as a driver a little bit because he’s a good driver obviously and we want him to drive the ball and be aggressive,” said Boyle. “I’ve been watching him in practice, his shooting and he’s starting to come [along] now. Four or five weeks out of the lineup is tough for anybody, especially a freshman but he’s showing what he’s made of, he’s a special player and he’s a great teammate.”
Despite only having 10 games under his belt, Williams has already shown great strides in rounding out his game and becoming a complete player. Williams also had two blocks against Oregon and has hit that mark in every game since his return to the floor.
“One of the reasons [Williams] came here is he knew that we were going to expect him to be a big-time defender on the perimeter,” said Boyle. “The thing I love about Cody is he’s a willing defender. He’s a good offensive player, we all know that he showed that tonight. Very few of those guys really want to dig in on the defensive end – Cody does, KJ does…so to have two guys in your back cart that can guard, it allows you to beat a team like Oregon because of their defensive presence – and Cody’s got it.”
KJ Simpson continued to build on his All-American campaign against Oregon putting up 22 points, five rebounds, five assists and three steals.
“We knew coming in it was going to be a battle, but we couldn’t get down on ourselves,” said Simpson. “In timeouts, huddles, and during free throws we just stressed that we know how to play defense. No matter what happened on offense, as long as we guarded, got stops, and ran a transition, that’s when things started to open up for us.”
Simpson and Williams dominated Oregon on both sides of the floor and were the best players on either side on Thursday. As a duo, Simpson and Williams hit 17 of their combined 28 field goal attempts for 45 points.
Colorado beat Oregon in all aspects of the game and did so while center Eddie Lampkin battled through foul trouble in the second half. Even though Lampkin only played 21 minutes in the win over the Ducks, the Buffs outrebounded Oregon 37-25.
While the box score would suggest Colorado won wire-to-wire, the Buffs overcame adversity midway through the second half as the two teams exchanged the lead five times over four minutes. Tristan da Silva struggled early on but closed the night strong as he hit three of his last four shots including a three-pointer with 11:21 to play that gave the Buffs the lead for the final time. Da Silva finished Thursday’s win with 13 points while only going 4/13 from the field and added eight rebounds and three assists in 36 minutes.
“What I like about Tristan is that he knows when he’s good, he knows when he’s not good,” said Boyle. “His resiliency, his maturity, his belief in himself and his teammates is pretty special. He was as frustrated as anybody, but we’re plus nineteen with Tristan in the game – that shows you how important the kid is to us.”
Colorado handed Oregon their first Pac-12 loss of the season and improved their conference record to 4-3 and their overall record to 13-5 heading into Saturday’s home game against Oregon State. While early NCAA Tournament projections currently have the Buffs on the outside looking in, CU is fully healthy and brimming with confidence with 13 games left and everything to play for.