After a 7-5 non-conference season that concluded with a disappointing fourth-place finish at the Diamond Head Classic, Colorado needed a jumpstart.
At the 12:33 mark of the second half, Colorado got exactly that.
Down 38-37, Tory Miller looked to have drawn a charge on UCLA's Norman Powell. The ensuing series of calls sparked the Buffs to a 62-56 victory, their first over the Bruins since joining the Pac-12.
Without Josh Scott, who missed Friday's game with back spasms, Colorado started a sloppy first 20 minutes slowly, turning the ball over five times in the first four minutes, handing UCLA a 9-3 lead.
CU responded well, with Askia Booker hitting a pair of jumpers - the first of which from behind the three-point line. A Wesley Gordon dunk capped a 7-2 run, putting Colorado behind just one point, 11-10.
Both Miller and Dominique Collier gave Colorado solid minutes off the bench in the first half. Miller finished the half with five points - already a career high. Colorado entered the locker room up 28-27.
UCLA started the second half on a 7-0 run. Xavier Johnson finally got the Buffs on the board at the 16:36 mark, putting the Buffs within four, 34-30. A pair of jumpers from Booker and Gordon, followed by a Jaron Hopkins layup gave Colorado a 37-36 lead.
Then UCLA grabbed the lead, and Colorado grabbed the momentum.
Miller picked up a block call on a drive by Powell. Powell, who made the layup, went to the line to try to convert the old-fashioned three-point play. The PA indicated the bucket would not count and that Powell would go to the line to shoot two free throws. When Powell missed his first, only UCLA's Gyorgy Goloman retrieved the board.
After the play was blown dead and the officiating crew huddled, UCLA was given the two points from Powell's layup, plus the ball. The Bruins ended up capping the lengthy possession with a three-pointer with Powell.
Colorado got angry, the Coors Events Center crowd of 10,191 got on their feet, Tad Boyle shed his jacket, and the Buffs went on an 11-0 run, taking 48-43 lead.
That energy carried Colorado throughout the remaining 12-plus minutes. The Colorado backcourt provided a few gasps in the final minute, but the Buffs closed affairs without too much hand-wringing.
"I thought we showed great toughness and resiliency all night," said Boyle. "I thought Xavier Johnson gave us an unbelievable spark and energy during that second half. He wanted the ball, he demanded the ball, he was going strong."
Said Johnson on whether the calls was a turning point in the game: "Tory came up huge for us tonight, even though that call didn't go his way, it still sparked our energy and we were able to play harder."
Booker finished with 20 points, Johnson added 14, and Gordon tallied 11 points, a career-high 14 rebounds, and seven blocks, in an excellent performance helping to buoy the Buffs without Scott.
Colorado returns to Sox Walseth court Sunday at noon against Southern California in search of their second Pac-12 win.