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Buffs Fall On Road To UCLA

Dec 1, 2021

LOS ANGELES — Colorado endured a poor shooting night from the floor early and foul trouble all evening Wednesday as the Buffaloes dropped a 73-61 decision to No. 5 UCLA at Pauley Pavilion.

Tad Boyle's Buffs fell to 6-2 overall and 1-1 in Pac-12 play while UCLA improved to 7-1, 1-0.

Colorado's Jabari Walker notched his fourth consecutive double-double and fifth of the season with 22 points and 11 rebounds. Elijah Parquet added 11 points for the Buffs.

CU's leading scorer for the season, Evan Battey, played just 15 minutes because of foul trouble and finished with four points and two rebounds.

Tyger Campbell led UCLA with 21 points.

Colorado never led in the game as UCLA held a 39-23 edge at intermission. The Buffs did manage to narrow the gap to four midway through the second half, 48-44, but that was as close as they could come. UCLA soon rebuilt the lead to 10 and the Buffs never cut the margin to single digits again down the stretch.

CU shot 42.6 percent for the game (23-for-54), but just 24 percent from 3-point range (5-for-21). The Bruins shot 47 percent (27-for-58), including 7-for-16 from beyond the arc.

After committing eight turnovers in the first half, the Buffs finished with 12, but the Bruins outscored Colorado 23-9 in points off turnovers. The Bruins also outrebounded Colorado 36-29.

"Opportunity missed," Boyle said. "I knew our guys had fight in them. I told them that at halftime. I don't question their heart and ability to come back, and we did in the second half … But (the Bruins) were the better team. They were the more physical team. That's two games in a row we've been outrebounded and that can't happen."

HOW IT HAPPENED: Colorado started slowly and trailed by 16 at the half, 39-23, thanks in large part to an 11-0 UCLA run midway through the half. CU committed eight turnovers in the first half, including five in the 11-0 UCLA run, and the Buffs shot just 10-for-27 in the first 20 minutes.

"We've got to slow down," Boyle said. "A lot of our turnovers were because we're getting sped up. UCLA is a high-pressure team. We have to be able to handle that offensively, play with more poise."

But the Buffs managed to keep the Bruins within striking distance in the second half and used a 12-1 run midway through the period to cut the deficit to four, 48-44.

Walker started the run with a short jumper, followed by a Tristan da Silva dunk, five straight points from Nique Clifford and three CU free throws. At the same time, CU's defense forced an 0-for-8 Bruins shooting drought.

"We talked at every media timeout about chipping away and our guys did that," Boyle said. "But we just couldn't get over the hump."

Indeed, the Bruins ended CU's run with six straight points to push the lead back to 10. Battey temporarily ended the run with a bucket inside, only to be whistled for his fifth foul on UCLA's next possession.

Battey finished the game with just 15 minutes on the floor and the Bruins kept the Buffs at bay over the final minutes.

"(The Bruins) were looking to take it on the chest and fall down," Boyle said. "It's supposed to be a flop but it wasn't called tonight. We have to adjust to that … It was frustrating for Evan."

The Buffs trailed from the beginning, hitting just two of their first 10 field goal tries while UCLA hit its first four.

Still, Colorado trailed by just six, 22-16, with 7:56 to play in the first half after buckets from Walker and Elijah Parquet.

But UCLA then reeled off an 11-0 run following a timeout, with Colorado committing five turnovers in a four-minute span. The Buffs finally ended the Bruins run with a K.J. Simpson bucket, but UCLA kept up the pressure and the Buffs trailed 39-23 at intermission.

"This is an opportunity for us to learn," Boyle said. "We've had an opportunity to win some games and learn. Now it's time to learn from a loss. Usually, from a player's standpoint, that's when the learning takes place."

TURNING POINT: The Buffs were able to shave a 16-point deficit at halftime down to four midway through the second half, 48-44, but then gave up a quick 6-0 UCLA run and the Bruins stayed in control down the stretch.

WHAT IT MEANS: The Buffs missed an opportunity to collect a big road win against a ranked team, but don't have much time to mourn as No. 13 Tennessee pays a visit to Boulder on Saturday.

KEY STATISTICS: Colorado shot just 5-for-21 from 3-point range … UCLA had a 23-9 edge in points off turnovers and a 34-24 edge in points in the paint. 

QUOTEWORTHY: "It's going to be a heck of a game on Saturday. We need our fans to show up, be loud and proud. If we're not selling out the CU Events Center for a team like Tennessee, I don't know why I'm scheduling them." CU head coach Tad Boyle.

NEXT UP: The Buffs return home to play host to No. 13 Tennessee on Saturday in a noon game at the CU Events Center (FS1).

Contact: Neill.Woelk@Colorado.edu