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Buffs "Book" Past Beavers

Colorado was able to hold Oregon St. at bay, just as Josh Scott held off Malcolm Duvivier, for the win in the Pac-12 Tournament.
Colorado was able to hold Oregon St. at bay, just as Josh Scott held off Malcolm Duvivier, for the win in the Pac-12 Tournament.
Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

10th seed Colorado pulled away midway in the second half, and held off 7th seed Oregon St.'s efforts to rally for a 78-71 win in the first round of the Pac-12 Tournament in the MGM Grand Hotel in Las Vegas Wednesday night.

It was the 4th loss in a row for the Beavers, and 7th in their last 8 games, and as was the case with most of their losses late in the season, it was a case of an Oregon St. team lacking depth wearing down, while their Pac-12 opponent made a move, often a sudden one, to take control, though it was only the 3rd time all season that Oregon St. would lose a game they led at halftime.

Askia Booker

Tonight it was the Buffs' Askia Booker, held without a basket from the floor in the first half, exploding midway in the second half. Booker buried 3 3 pointers, including the one above, and had 11 of the points in a 13-2 Colorado run that took only 2 1/2 minutes, and turned a 52-50 Beaver lead into a 63-54 Buff advantage with 9 minutes to go.

Two of the 3s came back to back, and turned the momentum.

"Those two 3s from Booker were it," Oregon St.'s Gary Payton II felt. "Once he hit that second one, it was just the whole momentum shift"

The game had been back and forth to that point, and though both teams had 7-0 runs in the first half, it was a 40-38 game in favor of Oregon St. at the half, and multiple more lead changes ensued before Booker blew the game open.

Olaf Schaftenaar

The Beavers would battle back, and pulled within 4 points with still over 6 minutes to go, when Olaf Schaftenaar, above, backed up a Payton basket with his 4th made 3 pointer of the game, drawing Oregon St. to within 67-63.

But that was as close as the Beavers would get, though they never trailed by more than 10.

Colorado benefited from 4 points they shouldn't have had, 2 on a flagrant 1 called on Payton on a simple collision coming up court, and 2 on a break-away basket by Josh Scott that came after a missed 10 second backcourt violation, confused by the Buffs having to take a timeout against extreme Beaver pressure.

But that doesn't account for the entire difference, and Oregon St. missed 5 of 9 free throws down the stretch, mostly because Daniel Gomis was only able to make 4 of 8.

It was part of a bigger issue at the line, where the Buffs had a huge advantage. No one missed a free throw in the first half, but Colorado got to take 14, while Oregon only got to the line 3 times. The second half was more of the same, with the Buffs making more free throws, 24 of the 26 they took (92+%), in the game than the Beavers even took. Oregon St. was a sub-par 14 of 22 at the line, just 64%.

The other key difference was on the boards, where the Buffs battered their way to  +13 advantage, 39-26, which with their free throw shooting, more than offset Oregon St.'s 11-3 edge in steals. 41% shooting by the Beavers compared to 50% by the Buffs meant they didn't get enough out of their possessions.

Scott had a double double, after grabbing a game high 14 rebounds.

Booker's run of scoring 13 of 15 Colorado points propelled him to a game high 20 points, and Josh Scott added 16, 12 of which came in the first half.

Malcolm Duvivier

Similar to Scott, Oregon St.'s Malcolm Duvivier, who co-led the Beavers with 17 points, was also held to only 4 second half points.

Gary Payton II

Payton, above, also finished with 17, and Schaftenaar continued his late season resonance, had 16, with his 4 of 6 3 point shooting the key.

But no other Beavers got to double digits, while the greater depth Colorado coach Tad Boyle employed supplied better support, with Tre'Shaun Fletcher adding a somewhat surprising 12 points, and Dustin Thomas had 10 of Colorado's 20 points off the bench, a difference maker given that Jarmal Reid was held to 9 points for Oregon St.

Oregon St. dropped to 17-14, after a a 16-7 start to the season, and will wait to hear if they will get an NIT invite, which is highly unlikely without picking up any wins in Las Vegas. Coach Wayne Tinkle has said it is unlikely that the Beavers would accept a CBI or CIT invite this season. Given the worn down nature of the team due to their lack of depth, that seems a sound decision, but also means the Beavers' season is probably over.

"I'm a little concerned, to be honest, about our guys and the numbers that we have and our bodies right now," Tinkle said.

It was only the 4th time a 10 seed has beaten a 7 seed in the Pac-12 Tournament, though it was the 3rd loss this season at the MGM Grand for the Beavers.

Colorado improved to 15-16, rallying late in their injury plagued season. The Buffs, who are now playing their best basketball of the year, take on #2 seed Oregon (23-8) tomorrow night in the tournament quarterfinals.

(Photos by Kyle Terada, USA TODAY Sports)

Andy_Wooldridge@yahoo.com