Oregon overcomes long cold spell in first half for 68-60 to tie Colorado atop the Pac-12 Conference

Payton Pritchard led Oregon with 11 rebounds against Colorado, followed by Will Richardson with nine.

With his two primary ballhandlers keeping up with the Buffaloes on the boards, Oregon men's basketball coach Dana Altman went with a four-guard lineup that pushed the 17th-ranked Ducks to a 68-60 win over No. 16 Colorado on Thursday night in front of 9,275 at Matthew Knight Arena.

Oregon trailed 51-43 with 11 minutes left when Altman put Pritchard, Richardson, Chris Duarte and Addison Patterson on the court together and stuck with a small lineup for most of the minutes down the stretch as the Ducks completed a comeback that moved them back into a tie for first place in the Pac-12 Conference.

“I feel like coach trusts us to run four guards because we rebound well,” said Richardson, who led the Ducks with 21 points to go with a career high in rebounds. “With four guards, there will be mismatches on the court. It is a different look so we can find mismatches.”

Colorado had a five-point lead in the final five minutes before Oregon scored 12 straight points, beginning with a 3-pointer from Pritchard and two free throws by Richardson to tie the game. Richardson added a 3-pointer and assisted Patterson on a dunk before Patterson got a steal that led to a layup by Pritchard to put Oregon ahead 65-58 with 1:48 left.

“Somebody is going to be a mismatch,” Patterson said of the four-guard look. “Somebody is going to be too big to guard us or too slow so with our ability to score, somebody is going to get a bucket.”

That lineup also led to an effective press for the Ducks that contributed to 18 turnovers for the Buffaloes, including 12 steals. Oregon had 16 points off those turnovers.

Oregon’s press was also working early after baskets, but then Colorado scored 20 straight points to take a 30-16 lead as the Ducks were unable to set up their defense.

“Our numbers with the press were a lot different than playing straight,” Altman said. “We ran into a stretch when they went on a run and we couldn’t get our press set. We were not getting anything going, missing a lot of shots inside and got some steals but couldn’t finish. I thought in the second half we got it turned around and you look at points off turnovers.”

Patterson had three steals while Duarte, Pritchard, Richardson and Chandler Lawson each had two.

“We were active,” Richardson said. “Coach has been on us because we are low in the defensive rankings. We were talking and communicating as much as we have all year on defense. That gets you going when you are talking, your hands are moving and getting deflections.”

Oregon outscored the Buffaloes 42-25 in the second half.

“We got on our heels offensively,” CU coach Tad Boyle said. “In the first half we attacked their pressure and in the second half, we didn’t. We beat them in Boulder because we took care of the ball. You can’t turn the ball over 18 times in this building and win. They were the aggressor in the second half and that was the disappointing part.”

Richardson was 2-for-7 from the field in the first half before getting 17 points in the second half while making all three of his 3-pointers.

“The coaches told me to be aggressive,” he said. “In the first half I had a couple shots that did not go down so they said to be aggressive and don’t worry about stats.”

Pritchard added 15 points and six assists as Oregon (19-6) moved into a tie for first place with the Buffaloes (19-6) at 8-4.

“We feel like we gave that game away,” said Colorado forward Evan Battey, who had 14 points and 11 rebounds. “It sucks, but there is nothing we can do about it now.”