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Colorado Buffaloes blow 20-point halftime lead in loss to 9th place Cal

The Buffs lost, 82-78.

NCAA Basketball: Colorado at California Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports

If for some reason Colorado finds themselves on the bubble in a few months, Wednesday night’s game against Cal might be why. On the heels of two straight losses, the Buffs went into Berkeley and blew a 20-point halftime lead to a Cal team that’s 9th in the Pac-12 and four games under .500. Here’s how the Buffs went from salvaging a long road trip to suffering one of their worst losses of the year.

Colorado had all the energy to start the game, jumping out to a 10-0 start thanks mostly to Eddie Lampkin. Lampkin was all over the place through the first 20 minutes, putting up 15 points (6-6 from the field), five rebounds, and three assists.

It was a tougher stretch for Cody Williams, who certainly looked like someone who hadn’t played a game in six weeks. His shot was off — he started off 1-6 from the field — but to his credit, he was involved on the offensive end, consistently found his way to the free throw line and his slick half-court pass to Tristan da Silva for an easy catch-and-shoot three was one of the Buffs’ best plays of the night. On defense, though, his impact was especially noticeable, and almost immediately. His length gave Cal fits – he swallowed up more than a few drives, and had a couple nice blocks within the first six minutes that led to transition points.

After Cal went into the locker room on a bit of a mini-run, things got a little hairy to start the second half. The Buffs’ hot first half shooting (56%) disappeared and a three-minute scoreless stretch coincided with a 16-2 Cal run. That shrunk the lead to single digits by the 12-minute mark. After a few minutes of trading buckets, Cal cut the lead to one with eight minutes left; they took their first lead of the night, 63-62, a few moments later.

CU struggled to contain Cal’s Jaylon Tyson all night — he finished the game with a team-high 30 points, 23 of them coming in the second half — and at one point was responsible for 14 of 18 Cal points. But Williams found a good time to get into a little more rhythm on offense, hitting a handful of tough shots down the stretch that included an impressive and-1 to bring the Buffs within two with a minute left. After a rough defensive possession followed, both da Silva and Williams hit back-to-back clutch shots to keep the Buffs within one. Da Silva even got a clean look at what would have been the game-winning three, but he left it short, and the Buffs lost their third Pac-12 game in a row.

With the loss, the Buffs’ week-long West Coast road trip (mercifully) comes to an end. Up next is a three game home stretch against USC, Oregon and Oregon State.