Search for balanced scoring punch continues for CU Buffs men's basketball at Oregon State
Jan. 27—EUGENE, Ore. — At the outset of the season, there was a belief the depth of the Colorado men's basketball team would allow the Buffaloes to showcase a different key scorer on any given night.
Instead, the Buffs mostly have been a two-man show.
The primary duo mostly has been KJ Simpson and Tristan da Silva, although during Thursday's loss at Oregon, Nique Clifford stepped up while Simpson endured a rough shooting night. Yet as the Buffs look to salvage a road split on Saturday night at Oregon State, the loss at Oregon typified the sort of production, or lack thereof, CU's deep roster has turned in offensively.
A team that expected to see different players step up on any given night instead is going into every contest wondering where the points will come from beyond the top scoring tandem.
"We need more consistency out of every player on our team," CU head coach Tad Boyle said. "We need our whole team to be effective to win games in this league. You can't do it with one or two guys. You just can't. Nique played as well as he has all year (at Oregon). He was really efficient offensively. But we had some other guys that just couldn't get it done.
"Every night's not going to be your night. But you have to finish when you have the opportunity to finish."
Last year, with Jabari Walker and Evan Battey leading the way, the Buffs recorded seven games with four double-digit scorers and seven others with five. Eight of those 14 performances occurred against Pac-12 foes. Last year's team featured two or fewer double-digit scorers in only five of 33 games.
Through 22 games this year, the Buffs have enjoyed just eight games with four double-digit scorers and none with five. Only one of those performances occurred in a Pac-12 game, and CU already has recorded eight games with two or fewer double-digit scorers.
The Buffs' third-leading scorer, J'Vonne Hadley, is on pace to post the Buffs' lowest scoring average for a No. 3 scorer since the 2008-09 season. Simpson and da Silva are on pace to give CU two 15-point scorers for the first time since Boyle's first season in Boulder in 2010-11, but even that squad, which scored more points than any team in program history, featured four double-digit scorers.
Two other Boyle teams came close to boasting a pair of 15-point scorers, but both of those teams displayed more consistent scoring support. The 2014-15 squad was led by Askia Booker (17.2) and Josh Scott (14.5), yet Xavier Johnson chipped in 10.3 points per game. In 2016-17, CU was led by current Boston Celtics guard Derrick White (18.1) and Johnson (14.8), but George King also averaged 11.1.
The inconsistencies this season beyond Simpson and da Silva have been glaring. Clifford scored a career-high 17 points at Oregon, but he scored 17 points in the previous five games combined. The craftiness around the rim that served Hadley so well early in the season has been diminished against the bigger frontcourts in the Pac-12, as he is averaging just 7.0 points in league play. Guard Julian Hammond III has posted four of his five career double-digit scoring games since Dec. 18, but in the other seven games during that span he has averaged just 4.4 points.
"I feel like that's a team thing. We've got to make sure we get the best shot for the team," da Silva said. "It doesn't matter if that's KJ or me. We've still just got to execute to get the best shot for the five guys that are out there. I trust everybody on the team to take shots and to make plays. It doesn't really matter who it is, we've just got to make sure we make the right reads."
CU Buffs men's basketball at Oregon State Beavers
TIPOFF: Saturday, 8:30 p.m. MT, Gill Coliseum, Corvallis, Ore.
TV/RADIO: TV — Pac-12 Network. Radio — KOA 850 AM and 94.1 FM.
RECORDS: Colorado 12-10, 4-7 Pac-12 Conference; Oregon State 8-13, 2-8.
COACHES: Colorado — Tad Boyle, 13th season (266-165, 322-231 overall). Oregon State — Wayne Tinkle, 9th season (124-149, 282-237 overall).
KEY PLAYERS: Colorado — G KJ Simpson, 6-2, So. (16.9 ppg, 4.3 rpg, 3.8 apg); F Tristan da Silva, 6-9, Jr. (15.7 ppg, 4.9 rpg, .528 field goal percentage); F J'Vonne Hadley, 6-6, Jr. (8.2 ppg, 6.1 rpg, .507 field goal percentage); G Julian Hammond III, 6-3, So. (6.6 ppg). Oregon State — G Jordan Pope, 6-2, Fr. (12.3 ppg, 2.6 apg, .375 3-point percentage); F Glen Taylor Jr., 6-6, So. (11.3 ppg, 3.2 rpg); G Dexter Akanno, 6-5, Jr. (9.3 ppg, 2.6 rpg).
NOTES: The Buffs have won their past three games at Oregon State. ... OSU has lost seven of its past eight games and is coming off a 79-60 home loss on Thursday against Utah. ... Colorado posted a 62-42 home win against OSU on Jan. 7, holding the Beavers to a season-low scoring total while getting 17 points and five rebounds from da Silva. ... The Buffs are 1-6 in true road games this season. ... Since missing a Jan. 5 win against Oregon, Simpson has gone just 4-for-23 (.174) on 3-pointers. ... Da Silva is 14-for-14 on free throws over the past five games. ... CU returns home to host the Bay Area schools next week, beginning with a Thursday date against California (8 p.m., Pac-12 Network).