Fast break

What went right: For one of the few times this season, turnovers were not an issue for CU. The Buffs committed just one in the first half and matched a season-low with six overall. CU also continued its stellar season at the free throw line by going 22-for-26.

What went wrong: Early foul trouble for the post tandem of Wesley Gordon and Josh Scott helped Washington State reserve forward Conor Clifford break loose for 18 points on an 8-for-9 showing from the floor.

Star of the game: George King. The redshirt sophomore hit 4-of-6 3-pointers and scored a team-leading 22 points. King has gone 9-for-14 on 3-pointers over the past three games.

What's next?: The Buffs return home to face Stanford at 7 p.m. on Wednesday.

PULLMAN, Wash. — Xavier Talton understands the clock is ticking on his Colorado Buffaloes basketball career.

With the finish line getting closer every night, CU's senior guard has been focused on maximizing his contributions during his limited minutes. Perhaps no play has been more critical from Talton this season than a hustle play he turned in Saturday night at Washington State, as his diving effort for a loose ball and subsequent from-the-floor assist quieted the home crowd and helped CU escape Beasley Coliseum with a 75-70 victory.


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"I thought Xavier Talton played unbelievable," CU coach Tad Boyle said. "He took a big charge in the first half. That hustle play was huge. And he came in off the bench after being on the bench for some time and made two big free throws. That's what you want and expect your seniors to do, but X-Talton was critical for us tonight. I'm not sure we win the game without him."

A jumper by WSU's Josh Hawkinson with 11 minutes, 2 seconds remaining gave the hosts a 54-53 advantage — the Cougars' first lead since the 15:12 mark of the first half.

But Talton was able to reverse the momentum with his clutch hustle play, diving for a loose ball under CU's basket and, from the floor, finding a wide-open George King for a 3-pointer. That bucket started the Buffs on a 12-2 run that provided much-needed breathing room down the stretch.

"I think I had just missed a layup, actually," Talton said. "It's one of my last games and it's just coming down to hustle plays I guess, just going out with leaving everything on the court."

The Cougars had one more surge in them late, as baskets by Ike Iroegbu and Hawkinson pulled WSU within 71-70 with 21 seconds to go. Two free throws from Talton padded CU's lead to 73-70 and, after an errant 3-point attempt from Iroegbu, two more free throws from King sealed the win and salvaged a split for CU in its two-game trip to Washington.

CU raced ahead early by scoring 16 unanswered points in a 20-2 run, as eight different players tallied points in a balanced first half for the Buffs. CU also played commendable defense on Cougars star Josh Hawkinson, who recorded a double-double with 12 points and 10 rebounds but fell short of his season averages of 16.7 points and 11 rebounds.

The Buffs also were able to maintain their first-half lead despite early foul trouble for Wesley Gordon and leading scorer Josh Scott, who sat the final 10:02 of the first half after picking up a pair of fouls.

"We're long and we're athletic," Scott said. "Granted, (Conor) Clifford was scoring, but we did a good job on (Hawkinson). We've just got to learn how to do it for a whole 40 minutes, but it's encouraging to say the least."

King made 4-of-6 3-pointers and paced the Buffs with 22 points. Scott's time on the bench contributed to the end of his streak of five consecutive double-doubles, but the senior still finished with 11 points and a team-leading eight rebounds.

After struggling with turnovers throughout the season, and particularly in recent games, the Buffs committed just one in the first half and finished with six overall. CU had averaged 15.6 turnovers over the previous five games.

"Sometimes we get a little careless with the ball, sometimes we just have to shore things up," Talton said. "We watch film a lot with the coaches and that really helps us out. We obviously wanted to win both (road games), but being able to split is definitely big for us with this league and how deep it is."

Pat Rooney: rooneyp@dailycamera.com or twitter.com/prooney07

CU 75, Washington St. 70

FG FT Reb CU Min M-A M-A O-T A PF PTS Gordon 24 3-6 2-3 0-3 0 4 8 Scott 28 5-6 1-1 2-8 2 3 11 Collier 30 1-6 2-4 1-1 3 4 4 King 31 6-15 6-6 1-5 0 3 22 Fortune 21 2-5 3-4 0-6 3 3 7 Akyazili 14 0-1 2-2 0-1 1 1 2 Talton 15 2-5 4-4 1-1 2 2 8 Fletcher 19 3-8 2-2 1-2 1 1 9 Miller 18 2-9 0-0 3-7 0 1 4 Totals 200 24-61 22-26 12-37 12 22 75

Percentages: FG .393, FT .846.3-Point Goals: 5-15, .333 (King 4-6, Fletcher 1-3, Akyazili 0-1, Talton 0-1, Fortune 0-2, Collier 0-2).Team Rebounds: 3.Blocked Shots: 2 (Scott 2).Turnovers: 6 (King 2, Scott 2, Collier, Talton).Steals: 4 (Gordon 2, Collier, Fletcher).Technical Fouls: None.

FG FT Reb WSU Min M-A M-A O-T A PF PTS Longrus 10 0-0 0-0 1-2 0 4 0 Hawkinson 38 3-9 5-6 1-10 2 2 12 Iroegbu 35 12-20 2-3 2-3 1 3 27 Redding 27 0-3 0-0 0-1 5 4 0 Boese 23 1-3 1-3 1-2 0 0 3 King 1 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 Franks 4 0-2 0-1 0-0 0 1 0 Callison 16 1-1 0-2 0-0 1 1 2 Johnson 21 1-6 6-8 1-7 2 4 8 Clifford 25 8-9 2-4 0-5 0 3 18 Totals 200 26-53 16-27 6-33 11 22 70

Percentages: FG .491, FT .593.3-Point Goals: 2-12, .167 (Hawkinson 1-2, Iroegbu 1-4, Boese 0-1, Franks 0-2, Johnson 0-3).Team Rebounds: 3.Blocked Shots: 3 (Hawkinson 3).Turnovers: 10 (Hawkinson 2, Iroegbu 2, Longrus, Callison, Redding, Johnson, Boese).Steals: 2 (Iroegbu, Boese).Technical Fouls: None.

Colorado 39 36 — 75 Washington St. 32 38 — 70

A — 3,321.Officials —Verne Harris, Shawn Lehigh, Jimmy Casas.