Playing to a packed house for the first time in months, the Bruins escaped another bid amid the chaos of the Buffalos’ hostile road crowd.
No. 9 UCLA Men’s Basketball (13-2, 5-1 Pac-12) led by a whopping 17 against Colorado (12-6, 4-4), then it came to the last seconds in an eventual 71-65 win at Boulder on Saturday night . That result comes after a tight 63-58 win over Utah on Thursday that similarly amounted to the last few possessions, and the Bruins have now completed the Pac-12 sweep in mountain school under coach for the second time in three seasons. Mick Cronin.
The Buffalos had their shots to send it to overtime, but the Bruins got stops when it mattered most. Guard Johnny Juzang, who led his team by 23 points after dropping 28 points two nights earlier, was the man who had to remove things from the free-throw line and dashed through the noise of the rowdy crowd to secure the win.
The Colorado fans may have given UCLA a break a little earlier when a foul from guard Tyger Campbell was called after a referee on the other side of the field gave a timeout to coach Tad Boyle. In a more enclosed, quiet environment like the fanless Pauley Pavilion, Campbell’s foul may have been called and the Buffaloes wound had a chance to settle things at the free-throw line, but the Bruins eventually caught a break and sealed the deal. the opposite charity streak.
After a few matches with somewhat suppressed offensive numbers, UCLA came out of the gates firing on all cylinders. The Bruins started 7-of-12 from the field with three three-pointers, and their stoppage on the other side led directly to that success — Colorado had five turnovers that turned into 11 UCLA points in the first five minutes.
The Bruins had multiple double digits in the opening six minutes on Saturday night, but both were immediately pruned back by Buffalo 3-pointers. The Colorado home crowd really got into it around that same point, coinciding with a 7-0 run, making it a one-score game.
UCLA went four full minutes without a point until Juzang knocked down a midrange jumper and he got another shot at possession the next to give his team a bit more of a kiss. Colorado didn’t go away, though, and a lay-up from striker Tristan da Silva and a three-pointer from guard Keeshawn Barthelemy made it another one-point game.
The next six runs scored all came from the free throw line and the foul-lucky piece ended with the Bruins up 26-21.
The Buffalos had only one shot in the last eight minutes of the first half, giving the Blues and Gold the lead before halftime. Colorado only managed five shots during that period, with UCLA forcing seven turnovers and turning that defense into an offense.
The Bruins won the first-half points-from-turnover battle 18-0 and countered the Buffalos’ cold streak by getting five shots in a row in the closing minutes of the opening frame. That streak was broken when guard Tyger Campbell missed a jumper in the closing moments, but two offensive rebounds that left possession still led to Juzang points at the buzzer.
UCLA went into halftime up 43-28, setting the pace for its best offensive and defensive game yet. The Bruins held onto that double-digit lead for the first half of the second half, but striker Evan Battey narrowed it back to eight with 11 minutes to go, ironically due to a Campbell turnover.
The Colorado crowd was confused again, only for Battey to pick up his fourth offense and top scorer Jabari Walker left the game with a right leg injury. The crowd barely grew still, however, and the Buffaloes refused to leave and continued to trade baskets with the Bruins until da Silva made back-to-back layups and turned it into a six-point game with 8:15 left on the clock.
After continuing with 17 early in the second half, UCLA hit just four of his next 18 shots and Colorado went 11-of-17 without ever making back-to-back misses. Battey closed that run with a direct 3-pointer that took the energy to another level, but guard/forward Jaime Jaquez answered with a 3 of his own to make it another two-ball game.
However, Jaquez was caught kicking backwards a minute later and allowed an en-1 on a quick break that helped the Buffalos cut the Bruins’ lead in half.
UCLA, leading 58-55 in under four minutes, then turned to Juzang to get them over the hump, and the team’s top scorer replied. Juzang got back-to-back midrange jumpers to go, leaving the Bruins five points ahead with three minutes to go.
Battey hit a jump hook to reduce it to three, then Walker came back and hit it home to make it a one-point game.
Campbell, who was 0-of-6 from the field overnight and 0-of-2 late into the night, stepped back after getting a screen from forward Cody Riley and hammering a big three-pointer. Guard Jaylen Clark made a mistake on Battey the next time on the floor, and he hit both of his free throws.
That was when everything shut down in the final minutes, and it came down to some free throws from Juzang and Bernard to close it off. That pair was a combined 8-of-8 from the line on the night, with Jaquez hitting 4-of-5. That trio combined 46 points, while center Myles Johnson had eight points and two blocks on perfect shooting from the bench.
UCLA returns to Pauley Pavilion in three days to play host to No. 3 Arizona in a long-delayed match-up between top-10 teams. The Bruins and Wildcats will tip-off Tuesday night at 8 p.m. in the first home game with fans since December 1, and the showdown will air on ESPN.
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