What went right: The Buffs recorded a season-most 22 assists and went 13-for-24 on 3-pointers. They also went 15-for-16 at the free throw line.
What went wrong: UCLA outrebounded CU 32-29 and owned a 14-4 advantage on second-chance points.
Star of the game: Shane Gatling. The junior college transfer delivered the shooting performance the Buffs have been waiting for, going 7-for-9 on 3-pointers before finishing with 28 points, five assists, four rebounds, and three steals.
What's next: The Buffs complete their trip to Los Angeles Saturday night at USC (8 p.m. MT, Pac-12 Network).
LOS ANGELES — Watching Shane Gatling casually flick 3-pointers into the net as if he is tossing scraps of paper into a nearby wastebasket has been a common sight at Colorado basketball practices.
That ability, along with Gatling's pedigree as a junior college All-American last season, generally has not translated into games. Yet that changed in dramatic fashion Wednesday night at UCLA.
Gatling knocked down seven 3-pointers, including several from NBA range, as the Buffaloes posted an 84-73 victory at Pauley Pavilion. After losing their first eight games as the visiting team at UCLA, the Buffs have now posted two consecutive victories at Pauley.
The Buffs had gone just 12-for-56 on 3-pointers in their previous three games but, led by Gatling's 7-for-9 mark, they once again got on track at UCLA, finishing 13-for-24. CU went 11-for-22 on 3-pointers in a win last year at Pauley.
"I said a couple weeks ago that it feels like we're pregnant with threes. He and D'Shawn (Schwartz) gave some birth tonight," CU head coach Tad Boyle said. "It's like they're in there, they're growing and growing and they have to come out sometime. Tonight they came out. You knew it was going to happen at some point. As long as you keep taking good shots. When you shoot it well, it kind of makes everything else work out OK."
Gatling made his first six 3-pointers and first seven shots overall, finishing 8-for-10 with a CU career-best 28 points. The junior guard also recorded five assists, four rebounds, and three steals. Everything clicked for Gatling, who turned his first miss of the night into an offensive rebound and a pair of free throws.
CU led for much of the contest but UCLA briefly took its only lead at 45-43 with 16 minutes, 29 seconds remaining. However, Gatling immediately responded with two consecutive 3-pointers and the Buffs never trailed the rest of the way.
The Bruins remained within four points with 4:59 remaining after a dunk from Chris Smith, but Gatling's final 3-pointer began a 10-0 run by CU that sealed the win. Gatling followed that final 3-pointer with a fast break, alley-oop pass to Tyler Bey, who posted his eighth double-double of the season and the 10th of his career with 16 points and 10 rebounds.
"I'm always confident. I know what I'm capable of doing," said Gatling, who entered the contest mired in a 13-for-50 3-point slump over the previous six games. "When I miss shots I never get down on myself. I'm just thinking that the next shot is going in. Today I shot really well. My teammates kept finding me and my coach kept encouraging me to shoot the ball. It turned out perfect for us."
CU led by 13 points early in the first half but saw its lead cut to one at the break after UCLA completed the half on a 9-0 run. Fearful of following the blueprint from a loss at Stanford two weeks ago, when the Buffs blew a 12-point first half lead, a Gatling 3-pointer followed by a steal from Bey immediately after halftime pushed the momentum back into CU's corner.
"Tyler Bey brought up 'This is the same thing that happened at Stanford, and we don't want this to happen again,'" Gatling said. "Coming out of halftime we were thinking don't let up...don't let this game be like the Stanford game. Don't let it turn out (like that)."
COLORADO 84, UCLA 73
COLORADO (13-9, 4-6 Pac-12)
Siewert 2-6 0-0 5, M.Wright 3-9 4-4 12, Gatling 8-10 5-6 28, Bey 6-13 4-4 16, Schwartz 6-10 0-0 15, Strating 0-0 0-0 0, Battey 1-2 0-0 2, Kountz 2-2 2-2 6, Parquet 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 28-52 15-16 84.
UCLA (12-11, 5-5 Pac-12)
Hill 0-2 2-2 2, M.Brown 8-10 1-2 17, Ali 1-6 0-0 2, Wilkes 3-11 0-0 8, Hands 5-10 0-0 13, Riley 3-5 0-0 6, Olesinski 0-2 0-0 0, Smith 7-12 0-0 14, Singleton 0-1 1-2 1, Bernard 4-8 1-2 10. Totals 31-67 5-8 73.
Halftime — Colorado 38-37. 3-point goals — Colorado 13-24 (Gatling 7-9, Schwartz 3-7, M.Wright 2-4, Siewert 1-4), UCLA 6-21 (Hands 3-5, Wilkes 2-5, Bernard 1-2, Riley 0-1, Singleton 0-1, Olesinski 0-1, Smith 0-2, Ali 0-4). Fouled out — None. Rebounds — Colorado 28 (Bey 10), UCLA 32 (M.Brown 8). Assists — Colorado 22 (M.Wright 8), UCLA 14 (Hands 6). Total fouls — Colorado 9, UCLA 12. A — 6,983.