No. 20 Buffs knock off Oregon State in Pac-12 start
BOULDER, Colo. — Struggling to get on track offensively, No. 20 Colorado instead leaned on its defense and scored just enough to come out on top.
Josh Scott, Askia Booker and Jaron Hopkins all had 13 points, and the Buffaloes hung on to beat Oregon State 64-58 on Thursday night in the Pac-12 opener for both teams.
"It was kind of a pitcher's duel tonight, two teams who weren't real good offensively," Colorado coach Tad Boyle said.
He noted that Oregon State had come into the game shooting better than 50 percent from the field but was held to 37.5 percent and was forced into 17 turnovers that led to 25 points. Colorado was just a little better, making 38.2 percent of its shots, though it took much better care of the ball with only seven turnovers.
"The best thing is we won when we didn't shoot the ball well," Boyle said. "We did a great job of getting deflections, getting off screens and getting our hands on the ball. We talk about defense and rebounding being the cornerstones of our program. Tonight is a good example of why that is."
Oregon State coach Craig Robinson said the turnovers were costly.
"When you play a really good team like this, that's ranked in the Top 25, you can't make the kind of mistakes we made," Robinson said. "In the first half, we turned the ball over too much, but we were still only down a little bit. In the second half, we would make a comeback, but didn't do as good of a job on the boards and that was the difference."
Oregon State out-rebounded Colorado 37-34 overall but had seven fewer rebounds than the Buffaloes in the second half.
"We weren't very efficient against their defense, but I think it speaks a lot about our team and our guys that we were able to win," Scott said. "We weren't shooting the ball that well. But we rebounded and got stops when we needed to. It was good for us."
Scott had 10 rebounds for Colorado (12-2, 1-0), which matched its best start since the 1979-80 season when the Buffaloes also opened 12-2. Colorado remained unbeaten in 10 games at the Coors Events Center this season.
Spencer Dinwiddie had nine points, including three key free throws in the late going, for the Buffaloes.
Roberto Nelson, who is leading the league in scoring, had 23 points for Oregon State, including hitting all 10 of his free throws. Eric Moreland, reinstated after serving a season-opening suspension for a violation of team rules, had 10 rebounds for Oregon State (8-5, 0-1).
After Colorado took a 10-point lead, Oregon State put together a 12-2 run that included a 3-pointer by Langston Morris-Walker to forge a tie at 40 with 10:35 to play.
The Buffaloes wouldn't let them get in front, though, responding with a run of their own in which they scored 13 of the next 16 points to go up 53-43 with 6:20 remaining.
Xavier Johnson got the flurry started with a one-handed jam on an offensive rebound and Booker capped it by breaking through Oregon State's zone for a driving layup and a putback.
The Beavers fought back within 60-56 after Malcom Duvivier drained a 3-pointer with 2:17 left.
But Oregon State failed to score another field goal and Dinwiddie made three of four free throws to help rebuild a solid lead.
In the final minute of the first half, Hopkins shook free on a fast break for a layup and Scott dunked off a feed from Dinwiddie to give Colorado a 28-23 lead.
Oregon State was held to the fewest points in a first half this season. The previous low was 26 against Coppin State on Nov. 10.
Colorado came in having tied the school record with 28 consecutive free throws made over their previous two games. The streak ended 5:30 into the game when Dustin Thomas missed the Buffaloes' first attempt of the game.