[Author’s Note: My apologies to ATQ and our readers for the late submission of this recap. I found out about a family crisis in the middle of the second period of the men’s game, and dealing with that has been front and center for me. I appreciate everyone’s patience.]
I was watching pregame warmups, when I happened upon this tweet from Matt Prehm:
Looks like N'Faly Dante suffered some kind of left knee injury in warmups. He's emerged from the locker room with ice on it and a brace, plus a major limp.— Matt Prehm (@MattPrehm) January 27, 2023
Sure enough, Dante is on the bench with an ice pack. I thought, “Uh-oh, this can’t be good.”
Turns out, however, that Oregon’s bigs stepped up - literally - in a big way.
The Ducks started slow again this game, but so did the Buffaloes, which afforded Oregon some time to catch up to an early Colorado lead. The sides tied at 3-3 and 7-7, and the Buffaloes found some shots that the Ducks were not finding, pulling to a four-point lead in the middle of the first period. Colorado was penetrating the paint and Oregon was not finding the basket.
gliding in the paint @KSimpsonJr— Colorado Men's Basketball (@CUBuffsMBB) January 27, 2023
Five minutes into the game, Oregon was shooting just under 17%. Then Nate Bittle stepped in and took over the game. With a 6-0 run, 3-pt. shots by Keeshawn Barthelemy and Bittle put Oregon up 19-17.
6-0 run gives Oregon a 19-17 advantage at the under-8 timeout. #GoDucks— Oregon Men's Basketball (@OregonMBB) January 27, 2023
Colorado edged in front at the 4:56 mark, but the Ducks pulled even and then gained a lead that they would keep through the half. Oregon was up 32-26, and Bittle had all the earmarks of a career game in place, with 7 points, 7 rebounds, and three blocked shots. The Ducks improved to 49% shooting at halftime.
.@Nathanbittle33 is making all the effort plays for the Ducks!— Oregon Men's Basketball (@OregonMBB) January 27, 2023
7 pts, 6 reb & 3 blk for the big fella. #GoDucks
What was amazing about the Ducks halftime lead was that Will Richardson had zero points in the game. Zip. Nada. No points, one assist, and two turnovers.
The Ducks would keep the lead through the 2nd half, but the fast and aggressive Colorado defense kept the Buffaloes in the game.
ALL EFFORT by @NiqueOtn— Colorado Men's Basketball (@CUBuffsMBB) January 27, 2023
Whatever Richardson was lacking in the 1st half, he made up for in the 2nd half, making his presence felt.
Strong finish @_will1k finishes through contact to give Oregon a 43-33 lead. #GoDucks— Oregon Men's Basketball (@OregonMBB) January 27, 2023
Colorado’s Tristan Da Silva made Oregon’s life miserable in the Boulder game, and the Ducks kept him quiet in the first half, with only 5 points. Da Silva came to life in the 2nd half and gave Oregon a scare, scoring 18 in the second half, but the Buffaloes were not able to push over the hump.
With authority! #GoDucks x @quincyguerrier— Oregon Men's Basketball (@OregonMBB) January 27, 2023
At the end of the match, when Colorado was having to foul to stay in the game, Jermaine Couisnard and Rivaldo Soares stepped up and were nearly perfect at the line, to end the game 75-69.
With N’Faly Dante out, Nate Bittle took over, ending his night with a double-double of 11 points and 13 rebounds, along with four blocked shots. Quincy Guerrier was the scoring leader with 16, and Keeshawn Barthelemy added 13 points, often when Oregon seemed to need them the most.
Colorado’s scoring leaders were Tristan Da Silva with 23, and Nique Clifford with 17.
A standout to me in the late game was Oregon’s Lok Wur. Wur made the most of his eight minutes of play with 5 points on 2-3 shooting.
The Ducks finished with 49% shooting to Colorado’s 37%. Oregon won the glass, 38-34. The Ducks would have liked to have not had 18 turnovers, but the Buffaloes were playing fast and aggressive on defense. At the end of the game, a win is a win.
Coach Dana Altman’s comments after the game:
Keeshawn Barthelemy and Nate Bittle also had this to add:
Pac-12 basketball is now in a state of some chaos, with UCLA losing last night to USC. That means the Bruins have now lost two in a row and sit at 8-2 in the conference. Utah is next at 8-3. Arizona and USC are at 7-3, followed by ASU and Oregon at 6-4. What this means is that Oregon is only two games behind first-place UCLA, and we’re mid-season. The Pac-12 race is far from over and if Oregon can turn their season around, they can still be in the conversation.
The first step is with Pac-12 second place Utah, and the Ducks host the Utes on Saturday, 1/28/23, at 5:00 pm PT in MKA. You can watch that game on the Pac-12 Network.