Buffs beat Ducks 72-71

Saturday’s sold-out game went down to the wire as the University of Colorado men’s basketball team edged the Oregon Ducks 72-71.

With just seconds remaining on the clock, senior guard Nate Tomlinson raced across the court, drawing a foul in the final second. At the line, Tomlinson, who was 4-of-7 on the night, made his first free throw to seal the win for the Buffs.

“I had a quick look up at the clock and I saw that we had about four seconds left,” Tomlinson said. “So I made a play to put it in the refs’ hands and luckily I got the call.”

Coming into the game, the Buffs and Ducks had the same conference record. With the win, the Buffs (16-7 overall, 8-3 Pac-12) move into a tie for second place in the conference, just a half game behind Washington.

The Buffs’ bench was a big factor, contributing 23 points, 17 of which came from CU’s leading scorer freshman Askia Booker. Guards Carlon Brown and Spencer Dinwiddie were also in the double digits for the Buffs, with 10 and 16 points respectively.

Sophomore forward Andre Roberson also had a big night, recording 11 rebounds and a career-high seven blocks.

Colorado led by seven with 14:08 remaining in the first half, but after a scoring drought of just over a minute, the Ducks gained a seven point lead of their own with 2:07 remaining before the break. Oregon took a 37-33 lead going into half-time.

During the intermission, CU head coach Tad Boyle told his players not to panic.

“We knew we had to play better basketball,” Dinwiddie said. “There weren’t any feelings of despair or anything. We knew we were only down by four and that was with us playing bad. We knew we had to come out and play better post defense because they lived in the paint in the first half.”

In the second half, the Buffs outshot the Ducks from the field, shooting 56.5 percent compared to Oregon’s 44.8 percent. CU didn’t make a single 3-pointer in the first half, but senior Austin Dufault changed that early in the second, scoring a trey to decrease Oregon’s seven point lead to four.

The Buffs went on a 9-0 run early in the second half to go up by four points. But the Ducks always seemed to have an answer, with E.J. Singler scoring seven of his 13 points and 6 of his 13 rebounds in the second half.

CU led by as much as four points in the final two minutes of the game, but a 3-pointer by Oregon’s Johnathan Lyod and a free throw by Olu Ashaolu almost sent the game into overtime. In the end, Tomlinson’s free throw in the closing seconds helped give the Buffs the edge.

The Buffs have lost just three games at home during Boyle’s tenure, but are about to leave the atmosphere of the Coors Events Center for a three game road trip. CU has won just one Pac-12 road matchup, but the team hopes to change things against Arizona, Arizona State and Utah.

“I don’t think there is any team we can’t beat, but I don’t think there is any team we can take for granted either,” Boyle said. “I think the whole key for us is you take the next task at hand and we have to be able to beat a quality opponent on the road. When you are in a league race, every game becomes more important than the last one. We just have to keep our noses to the grind stone, and our guys believe, and that’s what it is going to take.”

The Buffs face Arizona at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 9.