Contact CU Independent men’s basketball beat writer Alissa Noe at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow her on Twitter @crazysportgirl1.
The 11-2 University of Colorado men’s basketball team held high hopes of disproving their mediocre preseason ranking, in the middle of the Pac-12, at California on Friday night. But thanks to a strong defensive effort from the Golden Bears and a pathetic Colorado offensive performance, those hopes were quickly squandered.
Cal stormed to victory by 14 points, 79-65.
Colorado was never in this contest. They couldn’t muster a basket for the first six minutes of the game and went down by double digits in the meantime. As the clock wore down, so did the chances of walking away without a bruised record.
Jordan Mathews was an absolute nightmare for the Buffs, as he finished with a game-high 22 points and 5-of-9 shooting from deep. Tyrone Wallace added to their misery even more with 16 points, seven rebounds and eight assists.
Perhaps the bright side, if any, was Colorado’s ball-handling throughout Friday night’s contest. In contrast to their 13.7 turnovers per game leading into conference play, the Buffs only committed eight in California. They nearly tied the Bears in rebounding effort with 38 boards to Cal’s 39.
Senior forward Josh Scott led the herd with 16 points and seven rebounds, followed closely by junior forward Wes Gordon at 11 point and nine boards. Freshman guard Thomas Akyazili brightened the Buffaloes’ dismal performance ever so slightly with four assists and three steals on the night.
Cal stifled the Buffs on offense and defense. By the end of the matchup, the Buffs had shot only 31.8 percent from the field, and that was an improvement. They also only managed to make three of their 11 three-point attempts.
The Bears, led by Mathews and Wallace, boasted a 51.9 percent scoring performance, complemented by six triples. They gained their largest lead of the game at the 5:40 mark in the second half when they led by 23, 70-47.
The Buffs began the game with a disastrous stretch as they failed to score for the first six minutes of the game and allowed the Golden Bears to take a 10-0 lead. Three minutes later, they extended the lead to 12, 16-4, before the Buffs were able to light a spark on offense.
Although Colorado managed a 6-0 run to close the gap to just six points, Cal’s offense was relentless as they responded in kind.
But it got worse. Much worse.
With just under four minutes left in the half, the Buffs trailed by as many as 16 points, 32-16, before the Buffs fought back ever so slightly. By the time the buzzer sounded for the break, the Buffs cut the lead to 13 points, 34-21.
Throughout the first half, the Buffs played horrendously on both offense and defense. They only shot 7-of-29 from the field (24.1 percent) and missed all three of their three-point attempts, which was uncharacteristic for this Colorado team. Sailing further into unfamiliar waters, the Buffs only committed four turnovers.
On the other side of the ball, Cal soared over Colorado from the field with 44.4 percent shooting (12-of-27), which was complemented by a single trey. They committed seven turnovers, and outrebounded Colorado 25-15.
Things didn’t get much better in the second half. Five minutes in, Cal extended its lead to 19, as it continued to suffocate any effort from Colorado to get back in the game. With six minutes left, Cal put the final nail in the coffin when it garnered a 23-point lead, 70-47, before the Buffs started to fight back.
When the clock struck zero, the Buffs ensured that the loss wouldn’t be as painful as it probably should have been as they closed the gap to 14, 79-65.
The Buffaloes head next to Stanford, who earlier Friday night took down No. 21 Utah, on Sunday, Jan. 3 at 8 p.m. with the hopes of redemption and their first win of the new year. The game will be broadcast on ESPNU.