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Colorado survive Cal, moves on to face USC in Pac-12 Tournament

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It was ugly, but it’s a win

NCAA Basketball: PAC-12 Conference Tournament California vs Colorado Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

The Colorado Buffaloes are moving on in the Pac-12 Tournament. Despite the late tipoff against the grit-n-grind California Golden Bears, the Buffs figured it out and pulled off the 61-58 win.

The first half resembled the last time the Buffs played the Bears, when the latter pulled off the home upset. Likewise, this was a slow, grueling game in which Cal mucked up everything in the paint and crashed hard on every drive. CU can’t handle their sheer size, nor could they hit any of their open jumpers. The only thing that worked was Dallas Walton jumpers and Jabari Walker using his speed.

Despite shooting below 30% from the field, and despite not making a three until 17 minutes into the game, the Buffs still led 24-20 at the half. That was because, outside of a few threes falling, the Cal offense was completely shut down. Credit should go first to Eli Parquet for shutting down star guard Matt Bradley, and second to the other Buffs playing great help defense and securing the glass.

Colorado finally found their offensive footing in the second half. The game had absolutely no rhythm, but the Buffs eventually pried open the Cal defense and got into the paint. They didn’t convert a high clip of their chances, but they drew fouls upon fouls, forcing Cal into the bonus with 12 minutes left in the game. Free throws and layups powered a 15-3 run — punctuated by Walker’s triple — to take a commanding 41-30 lead.

Matt Bradley eventually hit some shots and they were perfectly timed to give Cal some life. They used an 8-0 run to cut CU’s lead to just 53-49, but D’Shawn Schwartz drew a foul on Bradley, his fifth and final foul. After that, a wild turn of events — and general B.S. in every way — led to Cal having a chance to tie on their final possession, but they missed at the very end.

Next up for the Buffs is a Friday showdown against the USC Trojans, tipping off at 9:30 p.m. on ESPN. USC barely beat the Utah Utes on Thursday, needing double-overtime to get the win. We’re certainly hoping the Trojans will be playing on tired legs.