Down by as many as 22 in the second half, Colorado staged a furious rally, holding Utah without a field goal for the final 10:44, but missed free-throws and turnovers in the last five minutes sunk the Buffs, as the Utes held on to win their second Pac-12 game of the season, 58-55.
"This team - every time I think we've matured, every time I think we've turned the corner, something like this happens," head coach Tad Boyle told 850-KOA. "I'm reminded that we don't get it yet."
The Buffs started strong, holding a 16-11 lead with just over 11 minutes remaining in the first half. From that point to the end of the first half, Colorado turned the ball over six times, and Utah's Jason Washburn and Jeremy Olsen got hot, translating to a 31-25 Utes halftime lead.
Coming out of halftime, a lid seemed to be hovering over the Buffaloes' basket. Colorado's first points of the second half didn't come until a Xavier Johnson layup at the 14:12 mark, constituting a 10-minute stretch without a field goal going back to the first half. By the time Johnson finally gave the Buffs a field goal, Utah had stretched their lead to 40-27.
Frustrations started to boil over with about 13 minutes remaining, as Boyle picked up a technical foul after Andre Roberson and Washburn got in a scrum. About one minute later, Colorado found themselves down by 22, staring at the prospect of a 4-5 Pac-12 record.
After the 12-and-under media timeout, Colorado started to awake from an offensive slumber just when Utah was entering theirs. Askia Booker hit a jumper, Xavier Talton hit a scooping layup and Roberson nailed a three-pointer. At the 8-and-under timeout, the Buffs were only down 14.
A layup by Johnson forced Utes head coach Larry Krystkowiak to call timeout. A minute and a half later, Krystkowiak found himself asking for time again, with the Buffs only down by 8 with 4:26 remaining.
"They were ready to give that game to us," said Boyle.
Out of the timeout, Utah got to the line after Johnson bumped his man well outside of the three-point line. Renan Lenz hit one-of-two, and Spencer Dinwiddie countered by getting to the line and hitting both shots. After a Utah steal, Dinwiddie found Sabatino Chen in the left corner for a three, cutting the Utes' lead to 54-50, forcing yet another Utah timeout.
Out of the timeout, CU's suddenly stifling defense forced a 10-second call. After the turnover, Dinwiddie got to the line again, where he made the first but missed the second. Utah got the ensuing rebound, but threw it right to Roberson, who layed it up and in to cut the gap to one, 54-53. Krystkowiak used his last timeout.
Finally, Utah broke the Buffs' press, and got to the line after Chen bumped Jarred DuBois. DuBois hit both free-throws, but Dinwiddie responded by hitting a layup and drawing a foul. Dinwiddie missed his chance to tie the game, but Utah missed on the other end with just 19 seconds remaining. Johnson grabbed the rebound, and the Buffs pushed up court, looking to take the lead. Dinwiddie, looking to draw a foul, forced contact with DuBois outside the arc, but it was not called, and the ball was lost out of bounds.
After two free throws, Colorado had a chance to send the game into overtime, but Dinwiddie's buzzer beater missed, and the Buffs fell to 4-5 in conference play.
CU will be back in action on Thursday against No. 10 Oregon in Eugene.