Evan Battey expected to hear from the old gang not long after he concluded his portion of the postgame media interviews on Sunday.
Moments earlier, Colorado’s fifth-year forward with the infectious enthusiasm reached a huge milestone in style, recording a career-high 22 points while becoming the 38th Buffaloes player to reach the 1,000-point mark in his career during a thrilling 80-76 win against Stanford in the Pac-12 Conference opener at the CU Events Center.
Battey became the fourth player from his 2017 recruiting class to reach the 1,000-point club, joining former teammates McKinley Wright IV, Tyler Bey, and D’Shawn Schwartz. Until that group came along, no CU recruiting class had ever boasted more than two players who eventually landed in the 1,000-point club.
“I’ve had so many memorable games here,” Battey said. “When you look back over the years, I’m very blessed to have teammates who are willing to pass me the ball. Teammates who were willing to throw it to me in the post, kick it out to me. It’s all because of my teammates. Because I don’t score for myself. I score because of my teammates. I’m grateful.
“I’m still in touch with those (classmates) so I’ll probably hear from them soon. It means the world. It’s gratifying to show that we came in here and accomplished our mission, which was to improve Colorado basketball and get to the next level and have an abundance of school pride.”
Until this season, Battey had not knocked down more than one 3-pointer in a game since he made a pair during the third game of the 2018-19 season — his third game in uniform for the Buffs. But Battey knocked down two 3-pointers two weeks ago during a win against New Mexico, and he went 4-for-4 from 3-point range against Stanford.
That was part of an 8-for-11 night that pushed Battey’s season shooting percentage to .631 overall with an 8-for-11 mark on 3-pointers. Against Stanford, Battey also added two rebounds, one assist, and two steals with no turnovers in 31 minutes, 35 seconds of court time.
“Anybody that knows Evan Battey or follows this team knows how special a young man he is,” CU head coach Tad Boyle said. “The thing I love about Evan, him being a senior, he’s in a different role this year. He’s been a starter and been a big part of what we do, but he’s not been our leading scorer. This year, we need him to score, and he knows that. He has really put work in on his game. Before practice, after practice, you see him down there. And when you see a kid put work in on his game, and then you see that pay off in games like this, it’s heartwarming as a coach.”
Walker finds a way
Jabari Walker might still be searching for his 3-point touch, but he quickly is turning into an all-around force for the Buffs.
Against Stanford, Walker posted his fourth double-double in seven games this season and his third in a row, finishing with 12 points and 13 rebounds. That rebounding total matched the career-high he set a week ago against Duquesne at the Paradise Jam. Despite missing both is 3-point attempts, Walker still went 5-for-9 with a pair of steals and one assist with only one turnover.
“It will come eventually. I’m not worried about (3-pointers) right now,” Walker said. “I’m just trying to do other things, and I’ve been doing that — the mid-range pull-up, dishing when they’re over-playing me. The game is still slowing down for me. Just trying to pick up new things and learn on the fly.”
The Buffs once again received effective contributions off the bench from freshman guard KJ Simpson, who went 5-for-8 with 12 points, two assists, and no turnovers in 20 minutes.
“I’m really, really pleased with his progress,” Boyle said. “I think he’s come along. Defensively, it’s going to be a challenge for him to really lock down. But offensively, he played with better pace tonight. I think KJ is growing up before our eyes, for sure.”
CU has won its past eight home games against Stanford…Boyle is closing in on win No. 300. Including his four seasons as the head coach at Northern Colorado, Sunday’s win was No. 295 for CU’s 12-year leader. He is 295-210 overall and 239-144 at CU…Buffs point guard Keeshawn Barthelemy struggled to a 1-for-8 mark, but he finished with 10 points after going 8-for-8 at the free throw line. That included a perfect 6-for-6 mark in the final 63 seconds…CU shot an even .500 against Stanford (26-for-52) and has shot at least 50 percent in four of seven games so far. The others were Montana State (.509), Maine (.544), and Southern Illinois (.500).