The Colorado Buffaloes entered Thursday night’s game 10-6 on the season and 0-3 in the Pac-12 and with the chance to pull off the upset of the season against No. 4 UCLA. The Buffs challenged for a bit, but faltered in the second chance and lost 104-89.
Colorado entered the game with a clear gameplan predicated on outside shooting, attacking UCLA’s weak interior defense and crashing the boards on misses. It’s nearly impossible to match UCLA shot for shot, so CU worked to get the most shots they could get. If they could keep UCLA from catching fire on the other end, there was hope for an upset. Hahaha. Haha. Ha.
In the first half, the Buffs shot a modest 41% from the field (14-34) and 63% from the free throw line (12-19), but made up for that with quantity of opportunities. CU put up a season-high 45 halftime points largely in part to their offensive rebounding, as they had 10 offensive rebounds to UCLA’s 13 defensive rebounds (!). In this rebounding dominance, they were able to put up 13 more shots than UCLA (including free throws).
UCLA, meanwhile, spent the first half shooting a ridiculous 55% (18-33) from the field and a preposterous 60% (9-15) from the three-point line. Leading this attack was Bryce “Balding Toddler” Alford, a marksmen worthy of mythology. Deleon Brown, starting in place of Josh Fortune, did well defending him, but defense only works so well against a shooter of Alford’s caliber. Alford had 12 of UCLA’s 51 points in the first half, but he was just getting warmed up. Dun-dun-dun.
The second half began in fitting fashion. Lonzo Ball, potential No. 1 pick the 2017 NBA Draft, drove to the right effortlessly past Derrick White and elevated for the two-handed dunk; he was at the rim before Wesley Gordon, the help defender, even turned his head to that side of the court. On the next possession, Alford overcame perfect defense from Brown and banked in a three. On the possession after that, Alford hit another three. Just like that, UCLA had the Buffs on their knees begging for their lives. Alford’s next shot ended any and all hope.
The final 17 minutes of game time went by quietly and without anything more than a whimper. Colorado finished with some solid stat lines — White had 20 points and 5 rebounds, XJ had 21 and 4 -- and scored 89 points, but it was all for not, thanks to UCLA being one of the best offensive teams in college basketball history.
Next up for Colorado is a Saturday home game against No. 25 USC, which will air on ESPNU at 6:30. USC just lost to Utah by 22, so there’s hope CU can get their first Pac-12 victory.