The Colorado Buffaloes defended their home court once again on Sunday, extending their home win streak to four by way of a 70-62 win over the California Golden Bears. This effort and eventual triumph put the Buffs in second place in the Pac-12. CU will take on Oregon Thursday for a shot at first place.
Xavier Talton 'finding a way to win'
Talton's four points on one shot from the field did not stand out. Neither do his three personal fouls or one assist. But his two steals (one being "the play of the game"), his one shot (a big three) and his +/- of + 16 were impressive. The senior guard quietly steadied the Buffs sometimes-sinking ship and brought it back to smooth waters.
“I thought Xavier’s defense down the stretch on Jordan Mathews was key," Head Coach Tad Boyle said. "He did a great job of making him (Mathews) work to catch the ball and take tough shots. The steal at the end of the game was the play of the game. I thought XT’s defense was terrific. He got a couple of cheap fouls in the first half, but again that’s a senior staying with it and not letting it get under his skin."
"Being ready when my time is called," Talton said of his play Sunday. "Coming in and making plays, whatever it is, and just finding a way to win without scoring the ball.”
Talton helped the Buffs find a win to without scoring the ball. His steal dubbed as, "the play of the game" by Boyle, that came with exactly one minute left, took the ball away from Cal, who had clawed back to within six points of the lead. The play made by Talton effectively sealed the game for the Buffs.
“It started off with the scouting report actually," the senior guard told. "They (the CU coaches) gave us the play calls that Cal would run. I knew there was going to be a down screen on the opposite side, so I kind of cheated that way. He just threw it to my hand.”
“Well, you knew that they were going to go to Jaylen Brown," Boyle spoke of Talton's steal. "We wanted to deny Jaylen Brown the ball best we could... On that big play, Xavier knew that they were going to go to Brown and he was able to get the big deflection and the huge defensive play.”
Call it a comeback
The Buffs started off devilishly cold from the field, shooting 1-of-19 through the first portion of the game. Cal led by as much as nine points in the first half. After the extremely rough start, CU went on a 34-11 run, which included an 18-3 run in the middle, to end the half. They led by a game of high of 17 points in the second half before the Golden Bears started chipping away, making a comeback of their own. The visitors would cut Colorado's lead to five late in the second half, an almost mirror image of the Stanford game on Wednesday night. But poised free throwing shooting from the Buffaloes helped them as they retained the lead, never relinquishing it after they gained it 13 minutes into the first half.
Sure, Xavier Talton's 23 turnover-less minutes were impressive, but Dom Collier's 31 turnover-less minutes were thrice as impressive. The two have cooled the Colorado backcourt and become calm hands to rely upon in crunch time. Over the last three games, the team has a combined 30 turnovers in 120 minutes of action. A lot of that is a credit to the sophomore Collier's growth.
"I thought Dom Collier played a great floor game for us," Tad Boyle exuberated. "I think he’s growing up before our eyes, and he had three assists and no turnovers. He’s understanding and he’s playing with great confidence. I think he’s finally realizing that he’s a great player, which we knew already but he’s going out and getting it done on big stages now."
Collier and Colorado got it done on the big stage Sunday, in what was perhaps their biggest win of the year. It wasn't Josh Scott going off, George King hitting several threes or Wes Gordon being a force, it was the consistency of the Colorado backcourt that had the Buffaloes golden against the Bears.
“The was the biggest thing for me coming into this year was confidence and maintaining confidence," the former Denver East prep star stated. "The last couple games I’ve been trying to lead the team to win.”