Skip to content

Breaking News

Potential for CU Buffs on display in Dayton win

CU will try to eliminate habit of playing to level of opponent

CHICAGO, ILLINOIS – DECEMBER 21: Evan Battey #21 of the Colorado Buffaloes rebounds over Obi Toppin #1 and Rodney Chatman #0 of the Dayton Flyers at the United Center on December 21, 2019 in Chicago, Illinois. Colorado defeated Dayton 78-76. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, ILLINOIS – DECEMBER 21: Evan Battey #21 of the Colorado Buffaloes rebounds over Obi Toppin #1 and Rodney Chatman #0 of the Dayton Flyers at the United Center on December 21, 2019 in Chicago, Illinois. Colorado defeated Dayton 78-76. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
PUBLISHED: | UPDATED:

CHICAGO — The lesson was so pertinent, the Colorado Buffaloes reviewed it twice.

It wasn’t so long ago that a young Buffs club was coming into its own, playing an efficient brand of basketball that led to a push into the Pac-12 Conference tournament semifinals and then the NIT quarterfinals.

Along the way, in the first round of the NIT, the Buffs knocked off Dayton at home while committing just seven turnovers, the low mark for the entire 2018-19 season. While the Buffs have managed to win games so far this year, that sort of offensive efficiency has been lacking for the bulk of the season.

At least until Saturday night.

In a highly-anticipated rematch of that NIT battle, the Buffs withstood a torrid shooting start from 13th-ranked Dayton to post a dramatic 78-76 win on D’Shawn Schwartz’s buzzer-beating 3-pointer in overtime. Head coach Tad Boyle decided to review the video of that March win against the Flyers twice while in Chicago. The Buffs responded, committing only 10 turnovers — the second-fewest of the season — while turning up the defensive pressure on Dayton once the Flyers cooled from their hot start.

“We watched some film of last year’s game. We had it on at our meal (Saturday) night and we also watched it on game day,” Boyle said. “Because we were playing so well offensively late in the year last year against Dayton to beat them in Boulder. I want our guys to play with confidence. And they’re better than the way we’ve played certainly offensively up to this point.

“We knew going in we’d have to have a low turnover game. We weren’t going to eliminate them, but 10 is a great number. Eleven is the number we shoot for and we came one under that. Credit goes to these guys. They did what they had to do tonight in a really, really tough environment.”

The win against Dayton likely will re-ignite the buzz attached to the Buffs at the outset of the season, which cooled somewhat with CU’s often ragged play early along with the home loss to Northern Iowa two weeks ago. The Buffs have a chance to sneak back into the top 25 when the new poll is released Monday. More importantly, the victory against Dayton gave CU a bona fide NCAA Tournament resume-building win against an almost-certain tournament team.

One habit the Buffs will attempt to break when they reconvene following a three-day holiday break is their penchant for playing to the level of the competition. The team that gutted out ugly wins against Wyoming and Colorado State looked nothing like the one that prevailed Saturday in an NCAA Tournament-caliber game. And that’s the team the Buffs hope to showcase more frequently beginning with their final nonconference game at home against Iona on Dec. 29.

“It’s a huge win for us. Gets some momentum going into league play, especially with Oregon first in league play,” Schwartz said. “We’ve got to handle our business against Iona and then going into Pac-12, we have to be ready to play.”

“I think we’ve got to watch film and dial-in to the things we did really well in this game. Try to translate that to the rest of the season. Obviously there’s some mistakes that have to be cleaned up, and we’ve got to figure that out as well.”