ORLANDO — It's difficult not to get a little star-struck at a presence like Central Florida's 7-foot-6 center Tacko Fall.
Colorado coach Tad Boyle admitted his team might have struggled a bit at the opening of its NIT first-round battle at UCF in trying to adjust to a behemoth in the middle whose standing vertical reach checks in at about 10 feet, 4 inches.
Fall certainly made an impact early — among his three blocked shots was one on an early layup attempt by George King when it seemed as if Fall was able to get his hand on the ball from the other side of the rim — he hardly was the primary reason behind the Buffs' season-ending 79-74 defeat.
"I thought our guys, the first four or five minutes of the game, were kind of in adjustment mode," Boyle said. "You can't simulate Tacko Fall in practice. I thought the first five or six minutes of the game he was a major factor in our guys' minds. But I think as the game went on they really adjusted to it and did a great job. And I thought he was less of a factor defensively."
Fall finished slightly below his regular averages with 10 points and eight rebounds, getting guarded mostly by Wesley Gordon and Tory Miller with freshman Lucas Siewert taking an occasional turn.
Instead it was the outside shooting of UCF guards BJ Taylor and Matt Williams that doomed the Buffs. That duo finished 13-for-23 overall with a 9-for-13 mark on 3-pointers.
"The difference in the game was BJ Taylor and the Williams kid in the first half," Boyle said.
Wednesday's loss marked the end of the collegiate careers for CU's four fifth-year seniors — Xavier Johnson, Wesley Gordon, Derrick White, and Josh Fortune.
By scoring 30 points, White increased his season total to 615, becoming the seventh Buffs player to post a 600-point season. CU players have posted nine such seasons overall, with Shaun Vandiver and Cliff Meely each owning two.
White is the first player since Chauncey Billups during 1995-96 to post four 30-point games in one season. Following his 30-point game against Arizona in the Pac-12 Conference tournament, White is the first Buffs player to record two 30-point games in the postseason since Shaun Vandiver, who posted three in the 1991 NIT.
Johnson, who finished with 13 points and four rebounds, also leaves a lasting impression in the CU history book. His career point total stands at 1,463, ranking 11th all-time, while his rebounding total of 705 ranks 12th. Johnson's 3-pointer in the waning seconds as CU attempted a comeback was the 130th of his career, breaking a tie with Levi Knutson and Donnie Boyce for sole possession of seventh all-time.
Gordon recorded just three rebounds against UCF, with his career total of 882 ranking sixth all-time. Both Gordon (131) and Johnson (127) finished in the top 10 in career games played.
With only two seasons at CU after transferring from Providence, Fortune doesn't figure among the Buffs' all-time leaders. Yet he finished strong in a frustrating senior season, recording just his second double-digit scoring effort (12) since the beginning of league play on Jan. 1.
Pac-12 coaching carousel
All of the sudden, Boyle is tied for the second-longest coaching tenure in the Pac-12 Conference, trailing only Arizona's Sean Miller by a season. Like Boyle, Oregon's Dana Altman also has been at his post for seven seasons.
Boyle moved up that list Wednesday, when Lorenzo Romar was let go following 15 seasons at Washington. Additionally, Cal will be searching for a new coach after Cuonzo Martin opted to leave Berkeley for a deal with Missouri worth a reported $21 million over seven years. Cal, which also lost in the first round of the NIT Tuesday while playing without top two scorers Ivan Rabb and Jabari Bird, posted a 62-39 record in three seasons under Martin.
Freshman guard Bryce Peters didn't play, but Boyle said he had been reinstated from an indefinite suspension that ended at six games...George King's postseason struggles continued at UCF, as he went 1-for-5 with two points and four rebounds before fouling out late. In three combined games in the league tourney and NIT, King was just 6-for-20 overall while going 1-for-11 on 3-pointers.