On Thursday night the Colorado Buffaloes took on UCLA at the CU Events Center in the first of two more games left in the regular season before the Pac-12 Tournament, emerging victories, 93-68.
Big nights from sophomore guard/forward Tyler Bey, who’s 27 points and 13 rebounds led all participants, and junior guard Shane Gatling, who contributed 26, propelled the Buffs to a crushing victory.
UCLA had first possession of the ball but could not make the game’s first jumper and with a defensive rebound, the Colorado offense went to work. The Bruins ran a two-three zone the entire first half so the Buffs had to pass the ball effectively to create any shot opportunity.
After a couple of passes, Gatling was wide open on the wing for a three-point shot.
The Bruins got another chance to score but were unsuccessful. Bey had the defensive rebound and would lay up the ball to extend the Buffs’ lead.
UCLA missed its first three shots of the game, and in a few minutes Colorado was up, 7-0.
But the Bruins did not give up. Freshman guard David Singleton drained a three after the Buffs lost control of a defensive rebound. Colorado could not continue the momentum and the next set of trips down the court were full of fouls, missed shots and fast breaks. Finally, the Buffs would end the misery when sophomore guard/forward D’Shawn Schwartz drained a three-point shot, making the game 10-3.
When UCLA was on defense it set up in a half court press before the Bruins settled back in their zone. But the Buffs were patient waiting for the right moment to make a shot or drive for a layup.
Another round of missed shots and rebounds would ensue as the Buffs tried to extend the lead and the Bruins tried to close it. Finally, sophomore guard McKinley Wright IV knocked down another three-pointer to make it 15-5.
The battle between UCLA and Colorado would not stop. Both teams fouled each other and every so often UCLA would take a trip to the foul line where the free shots narrowed the gap. But Colorado’s defense prevailed.
“I think we took these matchups personally,” Wright IV said.
It was 17-12 when the Buffs got control of the game and started to pull away. A jumper from Bey and a three pointer from Siewert would help the Buffs build on their lead but the Bruins were right behind them with a field goal from red shirt freshman forward Cody Riley.
Colorado took its first double-digit lead of the game at the 9:53 mark, going up 22-12 on a long ball by junior forward Lucas Siewert.
For nearly two minutes both squads hustled up and down the court to get something going but shot attempts would be unsuccessful. Free throws and jump shots would close the gap and the score was 24-20 with less than six minutes left.
It would be the closest the Bruins would get to the Buffs for the remainder of the contest.
Sophomore forward Alexander Strating made a reverse layup and a Gatling layup kept up the scoring to make it 28-20 with 4:39 to go before halftime.
UCLA ran its system of zone and half court press to slow down the Buffs but it did not work. In the final seconds of the first half Wright IV secured a defensive rebound off a UCLA airball and ran out the clock with five seconds left until he drove through the lane for an easy layup.
The Buffs headed to the locker room at halftime leading 37-27.
In the second half, Gatling opened up the scoring with a jumper after creating good space from a shot fake. UCLA answered right back with a shot in the paint of its own 27 seconds later.
With two back to back dunks from Bey and Schwartz, the Buffs seized full control of the game. A couple of Bruin inbound plays proved to be unsuccessful and the Buffs gained possession, as Bey’s dunk made the score 43-29.
“My teammates are are always finding me the ball and I appreciate them for that,” Bey said.
Schwartz was the third and final Buffalo to score in the double-digits. He added 15 points in the win.
After UCLA called a timeout, the Bruins tried to close the gap, but the Buffs kept the Bruins on the perimeter causing turnovers and going after second attempt shots.
Schwartz missed a three-point shot but Bey flew in out of nowhere for the second chance dunk that got CU Events Center on its feet. To keep the Buffs momentum at bay the Bruins made a jumper from the top of the key. But Schwartz answered with another three point shot to make it 58-43 with 15 minutes to play.
The Bruins tried to make their way into the game but the Buffs were not giving up. A simple Bruin chest pass was stolen by Gatling who would slam the ball down for a dunk to make the lead 56-44.
The Buffs’ defense was on point Thursday night. They build UCLA on the boards, snagging 47 rebounds to the Bruins’ 35.
As the Bruins tried to come back and regain some control of the game Bey was only beginning to take over with a scoring run that was dunk after dunk.
The Bruins proved to be no match for the Colorado intensity.
“We penetrated the zone, got to the free throw line, and got some plays at the rim… and that’s what you have to do against a zone,” head coach Tad Boyle said.
In the final moments the Bruins came out of their timeout with a full court press but it was broken when Wright IV caught a pass in the middle of the court who found an open Siewert who dished the ball tp Bey for a dunk.
Bey recorded his fourth-straight double-double and his 13th total on the year.
UCLA tried to gain possession again to score but they had to foul someone, and Gatling was that someone. But he made his free throws making the score 82-63.
“I’m sure coach [Boyle] was happy, because he emphasizes making free throws every day,” Gatling said.
The Bruins make a couple more layups but the gap was too large for them and with a final three-point shot from freshman guard Daylen Kountz, the Buffs won big at home, 93-68.
Colorado’s next and final regular season game is Saturday, March 9 at 3 p.m. MST at CU Events Center versus the USC Trojans.
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