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Schwartz sinks USC, Colorado moves on to Pac-12 title

The Buffs will play the Oregon State Beavers in the Pac-12 title.

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

The Colorado Buffaloes are moving on to the Pac-12 Championship after a thrilling win over the hated USC Trojans.

The Buffs were ready to roll when this game tipped off. McKinley Wright was locked in, as was D’Shawn Schwartz, as the two seniors scored the Buffs’ first 9 points on a bevy of three-point jumpers. That quick start happened just before Chevez Goodwin went crazy with elbows and clocked Wright in the side of the head, forcing him to the locker room.

Colorado did just fine without Wright, going on a 17-0 run while holding USC scoreless for nearly seven minutes. Keeshawn Barthelemy was terrific scoring 8 points in this stretch; he flashed a ton of potential as a future scoring guard. The rest of the Buffs did fantastic helping and recovering, then turning rebounds into open looks. Everyone looked focused and contributed with winning play.

Wright eventually made it back on the court and scored 10 points in the half after his return. At some point, teams are going to learn that they shouldn’t piss off the senior guard. Although the Buffs built a 15-point lead, Evan Mobley (17 first half points) put the team on his back and made this a game. The Buffs dominated the half, but led just 39-30 at the break because they let up in the final few minutes.

Colorado struggled to get good looks against the long and frisky USC defense. With Mobley lurking in the paint, the Buffs relied almost exclusively on three-pointers falling to buoy their second half offense. Wright stayed hot and Jeriah Horne got going to build a 54-44 lead midway through the half.

Those jumpers dried up, unfortunately, and it coincided with USC hitting some wild shots. Mobley spent the half dominating in the paint and carrying the team all himself, but he was joined here by Isaiah White and Drew Peterson, each of whom made a number of difficult shots in traffic. This stretch run cut CU’s lead down to 58-56.

Colorado answered with some outstanding play from Horne. He powered a 10-0 run by making two threes and a turnaround jumper — that extended the lead to 12 points with 4 minutes left to play. In this stressful, high-stakes game, USC answered that run with their own 14-2 run, eventually tying the game at 70 with 31 seconds remaining.

Wright’s late pull-up jumper was short, but Schwartz flew in from the corner and followed it up with a tip dunk. USC attempted to draw up a game-tying play, but Wright broke up the pass and the buzzer sounded with the Buffs victorious.

The Buffs will move on to the Pac-12 Championship, where they will face the Oregon State Beavers. The 5th-seeded Beavers just upset the Oregon Ducks and have been playing terrific basketball as of late. It’s going to be a great game to say the least.