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Cal Basketball

Colorado Preview: Buffs Have Won 3 Straight

February 16, 2022
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Colorado’s men’s basketball team had a nice run last year behind All-American McKinley Wright, making The NCAA Tournament and advancing to the second round.

This season the Buffs (16-9, 8-7 Pac-12), who visit Haas Pavillion Thursday night, are closer to mediocre. They are tied for seventh in the conference standings.

But they have won three straight, including blowing out short-handed Oregon State, 90-64, Tuesday in the first of a three-game road trip.

“They are scoring at a high rate (70.3 points per game),” Cal head coach Mark Fox said this week. “Percentage-wise (35.9) they are the number one three-point shooting team in the conference. 

“What they have is a young group, …They understand winning. The young players when they came in were able to learn from some great veterans, and so they haven’t missed a beat. As guys have graduated young players have stepped in and been super productive.”

The most productive of the young Buffs is forward Jabari Walker (12, above). The sophomore leads the team in scoring (14.5 ppg) and rebounding (9.2 rpg).

“I think when Andre (Kelly)  was injured he and Walker were neck-and-neck on the number of double-doubles. They were both racking them up at a pretty good rate,” Fox said. “But Jabari has just continued to play terrific and I think he is averaging a double-double in league play.

The 6-foot-9 native of Inglewood is averaging 18.0 points and 12.7 rebounds over the past four games and has made all 21 of his free throws in the past three contests.

“He’s able to rebound his own miss, he’s able to shoot the three, he runs the floor,” Fox said. “He can score in the paint. He is really an excellent scorer and rebounder.”

Colorado coach Tad Boyle fairly gushed after the Buffs routed the Beavers.

“He’s gaining a lot of confidence,” Boyle said of Walker. “ The efficiency is the key. He’s getting better, he really is. Still room for improvement, without a doubt. Defensively I think there’s some things he’s got to continue to get better at. But offensively, he’s really playing within himself. He’s not forcing things too much. I thought he played probably as good a game as he’s played all year tonight.”

He has plenty of help. Senior Evan Battey is the team’s leader and inspiration. Three years ago at the age of 19 Battey suffered a stroke while playing in a pickup basketball game. After a long struggle, the 6-8 forward is all the way back.

James Snook-USA TODAY Sports
Evan Battey grabs a rebound

“Evan’s given his heart and soul to this program and this community with what he's been through,” Boyle said. “Everybody knows his story. I want our freshmen and sophomores to understand what he's given them. I think they do. Evan is the most beloved and cherished teammate that I've been around in 27 years of coaching.”

Battey is second on the team in scoring at 11.2 points per game and is shooting 45.8 percent (22-for-48) on his three-pointers.

Tristan da Silva, a 6-9 sophomore from Germany, has elevated his game during conference play. He is averaging 11.2 ppg in 13 Pac-12 games, almost two points above his season average. He is also hitting 51.4 percent from three-point range. 

Notes

  • Colorado leads the overall series, 20-17.
  • Cal is 14-2 against the Buffaloes in Berkeley.
  • Colorado is 5-6 in its last 11 games, but 1-6 in that stretch against teams with winning records. Two of the wins are against Oregon State (3-20)  and two against Utah (9-16). 
  • Da Silva’s brother Oscar played at Stanford.
  • The Buffs went 18-for-22 at the free-throw line against OSU and have shot 84.7 percent (50-for-59) on free throws over the past three games.
  • The Buffs hit 10 3-pointers just once in the season’s first 22 games, but have done so twice in the past three games (although both were against OSU.
  • Battey became the 12th Buffs player to make 100 starts in his career.

Related:

Bears Pull Off Surprising Road Sweep

Cal Wins Thriller at OSU

Discussion from...

Colorado Preview: Buffs Have Won 3 Straight

1,075 Views | 3 Replies | Last: 4 mo ago by bearister
HoopDreams
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I'm guessing 2K, Celestine, Grant will also have their shot at defending Walker. Good luck, as this will probably be the defining matchup for the game, except ...

Senior Battey is equally a tough matchup. He is like a better shooting Kelly. Experienced, talented, wide-body with range out to the 3.

So who will match up with him? My guess is Lars, but because Battey can shoot, Lars will have to defend out to the perimeter. And Lars' Achilles heel is defending a face up big who can shoot or drive on him. Lars will probably be scored on and/or get in foul trouble.

Then who will defend him? I guess that's Grant

This might be the game we will most miss Kelly
oskidunker
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Looking at their losses, it appears if the they have a poor three percentage they loose .
Go Bears!
bearister
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Jordan and Lars are sure two fine young men that are excellent ambassadors for the University. I'm quite impressed.
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