Saturday, February 22, 2020

UCLA 70, No. 18 Colorado 63: Bruins spoil senior day with an epic comeback

                        Photo Credit: Adam Chalifoux 

By: Adam Chalifoux 
Twitter: @FantasticMrFoux

UCLA shocked the home court in Boulder, Colorado with a huge second half to beat the No. 18 Buffaloes, 70-63. 

"They deserved to win this game. They were the tougher team," said Colorado head coach, Tad Boyle. 

About midway through the first half, news broke that the Colorado Buffaloes finally found their new head football coach. While Karl Dorrell's move to Boulder is huge news, Colorado has made it clear that they are now a basketball school and this year, one of the better teams in the country. 

Alone in first place in the Pac-12 and on senior Saturday, there was not an empty seat in the building for Colorado's clash with the UCLA Bruins. 11,214 fans were in attendance, the fifth most in school history.

The Bruins challenged the Buffaloes early however holding them to just one for eight from deep in the first half and not allowing them to have any easy looks. Evan Battey led Colorado in dirty work as they earned a narrow 29-26 lead at halftime.

As the second half began it looked as if the Buffaloes would dominate the second half as they have developed a habit of doing at home. Colorado extended their lead to nine with 12:34 left in the game but then it was the Bruins who proved to be the more clutch team down the stretch. 

Locking up the Buffaloes, UCLA went on a 14-0 run to take a 55-50 with 6:27 remaining. 

"We were getting good looks and some stuff wasn't falling and we let it affect our defense on the other end," said McKinley Wright who led the Buffaloes with 20 points, including two late 3-pointers to give Colorado a chance to come back and win after the Bruins went up eight points with three minutes remaining. 

Bruins head coach Mick Cronin said the turning point in the game came during a timeout with around 13 minutes left. 

"We stopped getting beat, locked them down defensively and out communication was better," said Cronin. "From that point on we had 14 deflections."

UCLA spoiled Colorado's senior Saturday with physical defense, 44 second-half points, and the outstanding play of freshman point guard, Tyger Campbell who finished with 15 points and 11 assists to just one turnover. 

Colorado will now go on to finish its season with three road games against Cal, Stanford, and Utah. UCLA meanwhile will host Arizona State and Arizona before heading to USC to finish their season. Now 10-5 in conference and having swept Colorado, the Bruins could certainly play there way into the NCAA tournament conversation. Saturday's win was a crucial step.