Buffs Throttle Roadrunners For Third Straight Win
BOULDER — Colorado built a 17-point second-half lead Saturday and the Buffaloes held off CSU Bakersfield down the stretch to collect a 60-46 win at the CU Events Center.
Tad Boyle's Buffs improved to 9-3 with their third straight win while CSUB dropped to 4-4.
The Buffs led by nine at the half and extended their cushion to 17 midway through the second half. A mini-rally from the Roadrunners cut the margin to eight with five minutes to play, but the Buffs rebuilt the lead to double digits and maintained control in the final minutes.
Guard Keeshawn Barthelemy led CU with 12 points and added six rebounds. Nique Clifford had 10 points, seven rebounds and three assists, Elijah Parquet added 10 points, and Lawson Lovering had six points and four rebounds.
CU's leading scorer for the season, Jabari Walker, did not play in the second half because of an injury. Walker took an apparent blow to the head in the first half, and did not score in the game.
Kaleb Higgins led the Roadrunners with nine points. The Buffs held the Roadrunners to 15-for-55 shooting (27.3 percent) while CU shot 19-for-45.
While Colorado had a 40-34 overall edge on the boards, CSUB did grab 11 offensive rebounds. But CU forced 14 turnovers and had 16 assists on 19 field goals.
"A good win," Boyle said. "I have a lot of respect for (CSUB coach) Rod Barnes and his program. They're physical, they're tough, they're a great rebounding team. It was a good test and a good win."
HOW IT HAPPENED: The Buffs led by nine at the half, 24-15, and slowly pushed the margin to 17 midway through the period. A Barthelemy 3-pointer gave Colorado a 42-26 edge before a Lovering offensive rebound and bucket and two free throws from Simpson helped CU to a 48-31 edge with 10:24 remaining.
Barthelemy entered the game having hit just one of his last 21 3-point attempts. But he was 4-for-7 from the field Saturday, including 2-for-3 from 3-point range.
Lovering, meanwhile, had what Boyle called "his best game so far. He still got sped up a few times in the post, but you can see the growth happening with him."
But the Roadrunners didn't go away quietly. Thanks to some second-chance buckets and a couple of Colorado turnovers, CSUB cut the deficit to eight, 52-44, on a Justin McCall bucket with 5:13 to play.
Colorado, though, regained control and built the cushion back to double digits on buckets from Tristan da Silva and Evan Battey and CU held the Roadrunners at bay over the final minutes.
"Finishing has been a mantra for this team," Boyle said. "We have to finish better at the rim, we have to finish free throws, we have to finish plays, finish possessions defensively. That continues to be an area we have to focus on."
Colorado used an 8-0 run early to jump out to a 14-4 lead less than seven minutes in. Barthelemy started the surge with a drive to the hoop, da Silva added a three-point play and Parquet drained a 3-pointer to put CU in control.
But the Buffs went stale after that, scoring just 10 more points the remainder of the half. After hitting three of their first five shots, the Buffs shot just 5-for-18, including an 0-for-8 stretch.
"We had some good offensive possessions," Boyle said. "We did have our drought in the first half, but it wasn't turnovers that were killing us. We had four missed layups, two wide-open threes and a missed post move. We were getting shots."
Colorado's defense, though, kept the Buffs comfortably in the lead, as they limited the Roadrunners to 5-for-27 shooting in the half and CU held a 24-15 edge at intermission.
BIGGER THAN BASKETBALL: Saturday's game marked the Buffs' "Bigger Than Basketball" initiative, in which CU teamed with UCHealth to continue awareness in the fight against cancer while also honoring those who are battling or have overcome the disease.
Instead of wearing their own names on the backs of their uniforms, CU players wore the names of cancer fighters. Some of those honored were in attendance Saturday while others had the chance to watch the game remotely.
"We were proud to represent them and their families and their fight today," Boyle said. "But it's more than that. There are thousands of people fighting cancer throughout the state (and) throughout this country. We're one basketball team. We hopefully had a day to represent UCHealth and the healthcare workers and all they've been through, certainly since COVID has started, but also the ones that work with cancer patients and have worked with cancer patients for the last 30, 40, 50 years. It's not going away. To have an opportunity to fight on the basketball floor and bring their fight to the public's knowledge and our fans is an honor."
TURNING POINT: Colorado used an 8-0 run early in the game to take a 10-point lead, 14-4. CSUB never came closer than six again and the Buffs maintained a double-digit lead for most of the second half.
WHAT IT MEANS: CU collected its third straight win at home, but the stakes become much higher from here on out, beginning with Tuesday's home game against No. 7 Kansas.
WALKER STATUS: Immediately after the game, Boyle said he did not have an update on Walker. The CU forward will be evaluated Sunday and his availability for the Kansas game was not known Saturday afternoon.
KEY STATISTICS: The Buffs held the Roadrunners to just 27.3 percent shooting from the floor (15-for-55), including a 2-for-14 effort from beyond the arc … Colorado forced 14 turnovers and turned them into nine points … CU's bench outscored their CSUB counterparts, 23-13.
QUOTEWORTHY: "I'm looking forward to having the CU Events Center full of Buff fans. That's what I'm hoping for and counting on. More importantly than that, it's having our team ready to play and having them ready to defend a very efficient offensive team that has really good players. (Kansas) is very well coached. Bill Self is in the Hall of Fame for a reason. He's a hell of a coach on both sides of the ball. They're going to guard you. Our offense will be tested against Kansas. We're going to have to make shots. We'll have to execute. We'll have to be strong with the ball. It's a hell of an opportunity. That's all you can ask for in life. Our players are looking forward to it, I know that. I've coached against Kansas. I've played in that uniform (and) I know what it's like. We better strap it on because it's not going to be easy." — CU head coach Tad Boyle on Tuesday's matchup with Kansas.
NEXT UP: Colorado wraps up its non-conference schedule Tuesday when the Buffs play host to the seventh-ranked Jayhakws in a 7 p.m. game at the CU Events Center (ESPN2).