EUGENE, Ore. - Colorado basketball coach Tad Boyle had wanted his Buffaloes to play a 40-minute game, and it took them nearly that long to take their first lead on Thursday night against No. 19 Oregon.
But when CU finally got its advantage, it held. Andre Roberson's lay-in with 29.5 seconds to play, coupled with intense defense on the Ducks over the final 41/2 minutes earned the Buffs a dramatic 48-47 win at Matt Knight Arena.
It was CU's first win in Eugene in 58 years, and it was accomplished in the manner Boyle expected. "Playing Oregon is like a street fight; they're tough," he said. "And we tried to prepare our guys for that . . . we gutted it out, we didn't play our best. We won with our defense and our rebounding at the end."
CU's offense was hard to find; the Buffs' winning total was their lowest in the modern shot clock era. The last time CU won while scoring fewer than 50 points was on Feb. 2, 1967 in a 49-42 victory over Oklahoma State.
On Thursday night, the Buffs shot only 36.5 percent from the field, but they held the Ducks to 36.2 percent. CU's defense was particularly unforgiving in the final 4:26, holding the Ducks scoreless after they had taken a 47-40 lead.
"You shoot 36 percent on the road . . . you find a way," Boyle said. "Hopefully our guys can learn from that and take some confidence from it. We're going to start playing better offensively and making some shots and become more efficient. We're in a little bit of a funk offensively right now, but we'll break out of it."
CU had only one player in double figures - Roberson, who collected his 35th career double-double with 10 points and 13 rebounds. It was his Pac-12 Conference leading 10th double-double this season.
Roberson scored four of his points and grabbed three of his rebounds in the final 2:15. "There was a look in his eye, a determination, an energy that I hadn't seen before," Boyle said. "It was reminiscent of what I saw out of Carlon (Brown) and Nate (Tomlinson) and Austin (Dufault) towards the end of last year. Those seniors said we're going to get this done and find a way. Andre was the same way."
Said Roberson: "I didn't want us to lose, and it starts with me . . . I just took it on myself to go out and play defense and continue to fight. We were still right there; we just weren't getting over that hump to get the lead. I tip my hat to each and every one of our guys."
The first tip of his hat might go to Spencer Dinwiddie, whose late defense was as critical as Roberson's, according to Boyle. Dinwiddie pressured E.J. Singler on Oregon's final full possession into a difficult shot, appearing to get a piece of the ball.
Said Boyle: "Spencer was terrific . . . those two guys (Dinwiddie, Roberson) were the difference in the game for us defensively. He played great defense (on Singler). Whether he got a touch, I don't know. We had two fouls to give. We talked about maybe giving one on the drive or on the dribble. We didn't want to foul a shooter, obviously, (Oregon) being down one. We showed very good judgment there."
Dinwiddie, who finished with eight points and four assists, gave more credit to Roberson's 'D' than his own. He also said 'Dre' "pulled down every single big board we needed. One time he even let out a primal scream after he got one of those boards. He's big for us because he's our best rebounder and that means so much for us. As you saw, with his nose for the ball, he got the last shot blocked, got it right back, scored it and it didn't even faze him. He won the game for us."
After falling short last weekend in a disheartening loss at Utah, CU (15-7, 5-5) needed a healing night on the court. So did Oregon (18-5, 7-3) after dropping a pair of games in the Bay Area. But it was the Buffs who finished strong this time, closing out the game with an 8-0 run and improving to 2-2 against ranked opponents this season.
CU also has beaten then-No. 16 Baylor in the Charleston Classic before losing at then-No. 3 Arizona and then-No. 9 Kansas. The Buffs' last road win against a ranked opponent was on Jan. 12, 2011, when they defeated No. 21 Kansas State 74-66.
Oregon freshman point guard Dominic Artis missed his fourth straight game with a foot injury. But until the final minutes, the Ducks weren't as turnover prone Thursday as they had been in their previous three games, when they totaled 65. By halftime, forging a five-point lead, Oregon had committed just four turnovers to CU's eight.
But the Buffs committed only four second-half turnovers and seldom succumbed to the Ducks' pressure. Oregon also finished with a dozen turnovers, and Artis' absence showed in the final minutes. The Ducks outrebounded the Buffs 37-32, including 16-14 on the offensive boards. But CU converted 17 second-chance points to Oregon's eight.
The Buffs never led in the opening half and trailed by as many as eight points (15-7) with 11 minutes before the break. During the stretch when they fell behind by that margin, they strayed from what Boyle wanted from them - specifically, to attack the rim in transition and run after getting stops. Problem was, the stops weren't plentiful enough to allow CU to speed up its transition game. The Buffs stayed out of sorts offensively for nearly 6 minutes.
"I'm really proud of our players, to win when you don't play your best," said Boyle. "You have to do it at some point of the year, you just do, and multiple times sometimes because it's not always going to be pretty."
After the Ducks took their eight-point first-half lead, the Buffs got strong minutes off the bench from Jeremy Adams, who hit a pair of free throws and three-pointer during a 10-2 run that pulled CU into a 17-17 tie.
But Oregon, responding with a 9-2 surge, went back on top by seven points (26-19) and CU needed a turnaround jumper by Josh Scott at the halftime buzzer to trail 28-23 at intermission.
Oregon got 12 first-half points from Singler and eight off the bench from Emory. Singler and Emery finished with 14 each for the Ducks, who had won 20 consecutive home games stretching back to the 2011-12 season (14-0 this season).
The Buffs opened the second half with a traditional three-point play from Dinwiddie - his first points of the game. That cut the Ducks' lead to 28-26 with 17:57 to play, and another Dinwiddie layup brought CU to within 30-28 less than a minute later.
An Xavier Johnson trey - his second of the game - pulled the Buffs to within 32-31 with just over 15 minutes remaining. But the Ducks outscored their visitors 7-2 over the next 4 minutes and increased their advantage to 39-33 with 11:02 left.
CU crept to within 47-43 at the 3:01 mark on one of two free throws by Askia Booker, to 47-44 on one of two foul shots by Scott, then to 47-46 on a putback by Roberson with 2:07 to play.
After each team squandered a possession apiece, the Buffs got the ball after an offensive foul by Singler with 50.1 seconds remaining. Boyle called timeout with 46.2 seconds showing, and after a defensive stop, Roberson's lay-in gave CU its one-point lead at the 29.5 mark.
When he rebounded Singler's miss in the final 2 seconds, Roberson was fouled and went to the line to shoot one-and-one. He missed the first attempt and Oregon's Arsalan Kazemi rebounded. But with less than a second to play, Kazemi's only choice was turn and heave the ball. The Ducks were done.
"Our guys got stops when they had to," Boyle said. "As painful and as disappointing as that Utah loss was for us, it might have done this team some good. We learned a couple of things: We know we have to play from the get-go, which I think we did . . . we competed. And secondly, knowing we can come back at the end. We came back and we won."
The Buffs play next at Oregon State on Sunday (7 p.m. MST, Pac-12 Network).