clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Upset bid falls short, Colorado loses to #4 UCLA

Colorado played as well as they could in this matchup.

NCAA Basketball: UCLA at Colorado Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

In one of the most physical games of basketball you will ever see, the Colorado Buffaloes fell just short of knocking off the 4th-ranked UCLA Bruins.

The Buffs raced out to an early 21-11 lead after the first 12 minutes. The Bruins are a gritty team loaded with seniors, but early on they looked rattled with the Buffs playing hard with a rocking home crowd behind them. The early star was Lawson Lovering, whose defensive presence hung over UCLA like a 7’1 babadook. He shut down the paint, blocked a couple shots and fought like hell on the boards. Luke O’Brien was working hard on the defensive glass too as he himself had the best game of his career.

UCLA climbed back into the game. Like the previous game at the Pauley Pavillion, the Buffs struggled with turnovers and the Bruins were aggressive after those mistakes. Jaime Jaquez made his usual smart plays and found a rhythm despite solid defense by Tristan da Silva. Still, CU held onto the first half, mostly on the strength of their 23-16 rebounding advantage. The Buffs definitely could have built a bigger lead than 30-28 but they missed a number of chances in terms of transition layups, missed free throws and their usual poor three-point shooting. (This team is shooting a gross 31% from three on the season.)

The Bruins went on a quick 7-0 lead after halftime to take a 35-30 lead. It was still anyone’s game, but ten years covering basketball prepares you for the worst and it felt like UCLA had taken control and were going to turn this into a route. But the Buffs stayed strong. Da Silva got into the game, KJ Simpson created some shots, Ethan Wright made some outstanding passes (a great game for him) and Big Shot LOB hit a couple clutch shots. With four minutes left in the game, the Buffs had a 52-50 lead and were on the verge of their best win since knocking off the Volunteers in November.

At that four-minute mark, da Silva rolled an ankle and left for the locker room, never to return. Nique Clifford stepped in for him and made a clutch three, but the Buffs really needed da Silva’s shot creation at the very end of this game. CU’s crunch time offense was drawing fouls and chucking contested shots; da Silva had a quiet game and was guarded by Jaquez, but it may have been the difference in this 60-56 loss.

The Buffs continue to show flashes on the nights they show up. There is a lot to like about this, especially on the defensive end and on the glass, where certain players have shown tremendous fight. There will be a roster shakeup this coming offseason, as a couple players will graduate and there could be a transfer or two out. (It’s not a secret that Tad is frustrated with a lot of players, so nothing should surprise this offseason.) Five-star prospect Cody Williams is coming in and Tad Boyle could recruit some instant-impact rotation players now that CU’s transfer rules are less restrictive.

For now, the Buffs have two or three games left before the season ends. They host Utah on March 4, then will play the 7/10 or 8/9 game in the Pac-12 Tournament before possibly taking on UCLA or Arizona. The Buffs have some great wins on the season, but they’re just not good enough to warrant a postseason invite, and I doubt Tad will accept another CBI invite.