LOS ANGELES -- The Buffs are 40 minutes from hoops heaven.

A year after having his NCAA Tournament selection show party spoiled, Tad Boyle is one win away from securing Colorado's first invitation to the Big Dance since 2003.

Sixth-seeded CU advanced to the championship game of the Pac-12 Tournament with a 70-59 victory over No. 2 Cal on Friday night at the Staples Center.

The sixth-seeded Buffs (22-11) will play No. 4 Arizona for the title today (4 p.m., CBS).

CU men's basketball preview

SATURDAY: The No. 6 Colorado Buffaloes (22-11) will face the No. 4 Arizona Wildcats (23-10) in the Pac-12 Tournament championship game at 4 p.m. at the Staples Center.

BROADCAST: Television on CBS with Kevin Harlan (play-by-play), Reggie Miller (analyst) and Dan Bonner (reporter). Radio on KOA (AM 850) with Mark Johnson (play-by-play) and Chris Lewis (color). Follow on Twitter @RyanThorburn.

SEASON SERIES: Teams split 1-1 (CU won 64-63 on Jan. 21 in Boulder; Arizona won 71-57 on Feb. 9 in Tucson).

COACHES: Tad Boyle is 46-25 in his second season at CU. Sean Miller is 69-33 in his third season at Arizona.

PROBABLE STARTERS: Colorado - G Nate Tomlinson, 6-3, Sr., 5.9 ppg, 3.2 apg; F Andre Roberson, 6-7, So., 11.5 ppg, 11.2 rpg; F Austin Dufault, 6-9, Sr., 10.9 ppg, 4.5 rpg; G Spencer Dinwiddie, 6-5, Fr., 10.3 ppg, 3.6 rpg; G Carlon Brown, 6-5, Sr., 12.3 ppg, 3.7 rpg. Arizona - F Jesse Perry, 6-7, Sr., 12.1 ppg, 7.4 rpg; F Solomon Hill, 6-6, Jr., 12.8 ppg, 7.9 rpg; G Nick Johnson, 6-2, Fr., 9.1 ppg, 3.3 rpg; G Jordin Mayes, 6-2, So., 4.9 ppg, 1.3 rpg; G Kyle Fogg, 6-3, Sr., 13.5 ppg, 3.8 rpg.

SERIES: CU leads 9-6.

UP NEXT: The winner of today's game earns the Pac-12's automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. The loser will likely participate in the NIT.

As Boyle walked off the floor, the second-year CU head coach held a finger in the air Joe Nameth style.

"One more!" Boyle shouted to the CU faithful, who have made their presence felt in downtown Los Angeles throughout the tournament.

After losing three of their final four games in the regular season, the Buffs have rattled of wins over Utah, Oregon and Cal three consecutive nights.

Oregon State, the ninth seed, hit the wall in the second half of its 72-61 semifinal loss to Arizona.

"We have a team that is mentally tough," Austin Dufault said after a gutsy 15-point performance that includes a series of clutch baskets and free throws down the stretch. "We're playing banged up and through a lot of fatigue. ... We can rest when this is all over."

The Bears (24-9) are still expected to receive an at-large berth to the NCAA Tournament.

CU, led by 17 points each for Carlon Brown and Andre Roberson, is looking to crash the party.

"We're not even talking about that," Boyle said. "We're talking about winning a championship. We came here on a mission and we've taken care of business up to this point. We know what's at stake. Arizona knows what's at stake."

The Buffs put the victory over Cal on ice by making 11-of-13 free throws down the stretch.

Nate Tomlinson (10 points), who did a masterful job of guarding Devoe Joseph in the quarterfinals, turned in another impressive performance.

The senior point guard matched Pac-12 player of the year Jorge Gutierrez on the scoreboard and finished with three assists and no turnovers in 31 minutes.

"I think we found our heart," Boyle said. "I really do."

Cal took its first lead of the game (29-28) on Harper Kamp's field goal 28 seconds into the second half. The Bears led by three points after a 9-0 run that dated back to Dufault's basket with 3:37 left in the first half.

Men's Pac-12 Tournament

Wednesday's games

No. 9 Oregon State 69, No. 8 Washington State 64

No. 5 UCLA 55, No. 12 USC 40

No. 7 Stanford 85, No. 10 Arizona State 65

No. 6 Colorado 53, No. 11 Utah 41

Thursday's games

No. 9 Oregon St. 86, No. 1 Washington 84

No. 4 Arizona 66, No. 5 UCLA 58

No. 2 California 77, No. 7 Stanford 71

No. 6 Colorado 63, No. 3 Oregon 62

Friday's games

No. 4 Arizona 72, No. 9 Oregon State 61

No. 6 Colorado 70, No. 2 California 59

Saturday's game

No. 6 Colorado vs. No. 4 Arizona, 4:10 p.m., KCNC (4)

Askia Booker's layup with 16:08 left, which were CU's first points from the bench, gave his team a 34-33 lead.

Shane Harris-Tunks chipped in defensively, taking two charges. Booker splashed a 3-ball from the top of the key to give CU a 47-42 cushion.

Brown then went to work on Gutierrez, who was also named the Pac-12 the defensive player of the year, with a couple of difficult makes in the paint.

"Carlon is playing with a sense of urgency now that I love," Boyle said.

Dufault scored the final five points of a 10-0 run that gave the Buffs their largest lead, 59-46, with only 4:05 remaining on the clock.

Allen Crabbe made a 3-pointer to end a scoring drought of 4:20.

Gutierrez, who was 2-for-24 shooting during Cal's regular-season split with the Buffs, had 10 points on 4-for-10 shooting.

CU had a 28-27 lead at the intermission after holding Cal to 37.7 percent from the field.

But Boyle's reserves had let him down at that point as a nine-point cushion evaporated over the final 4:20.

Crabbe got loose for 13 points, including a 3-pointer with 25.5 seconds left, to give the Bears the momentum at the break.

The Buffs got off to a blistering start, knocking down five of their first six shots, to seize a quick 12-2 lead after back-to-back 3-pointers by Tomlinson.

"We've still got to be aggressive and attack the rim," Brown implored his teammates during the first media timeout.

CU continued to take jump shots and had a 15-4 head start after Roberson knocked down his first attempt from behind the arc.

The Bears regrouped with a 13-6 run, which was momentarily interrupted by a SportsCenter-worthy dunk from Roberson, to get within 21-17 on a 3-pointer by Crabbe.

"Andre was terrific tonight and he was terrific the last two nights," Boyle said.

CU was predicted to finish tied with Washington State for 10th place in the preseason media poll released in October.

Now the Buffs are 40 minutes away from a conference championship.

 

Colorado 70, California 59

FG FT Reb

CU Min M-A M-A O-T A PF PTS

Rbrsn 34 6-6 3-4 2-9 0 1 17

Dufault 35 6-13 3-4 0-4 2 3 15

Tmlnsn 31 2-3 4-4 0-0 3 3 10

Dnwdd 36 1-6 4-4 1-3 3 4 6

Brown 28 8-15 1-2 1-5 1 3 17

Booker 20 2-4 0-0 1-1 1 3 5

Hrrs-Tks 11 0-1 0-0 0-3 1 1 0

Chen 1 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0

Adams 4 0-2 0-0 0-0 0 1 0

Totals 200 25-50 15-18 5-25 11 19 70

 

Percentages: FG .500, FT .833.

3-Point Goals: 5-14, .357 (Roberson 2-2, Tomlinson 2-3, Booker 1-1, Dufault 0-1, Adams 0-1, Brown 0-3, Dinwiddie 0-3).

Team Rebounds: 0.

Blocked Shots: 2 (Roberson 2).

Turnovers: 9 (Harris-Tunks 2, Roberson 2, Dinwiddie 2, Booker, Adams, Brown).

Steals: 10 (Brown 4, Dinwiddie 4, Roberson, Tomlinson).

FG FT Reb

CAL Min M-A M-A O-T A PF PTS

Kamp 31 2-8 2-2 2-4 2 5 6

Kravish 31 2-2 2-2 0-5 0 3 6

Cobbs 37 5-11 4-6 2-6 4 1 15

Gutierrez 38 4-10 1-4 0-4 3 2 10

Crabbe 36 6-15 3-3 2-5 4 4 18

Smith 9 0-0 0-0 1-2 0 2 0

Murray 2 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0

Thurman 16 2-3 0-0 3-5 0 1 4

Totals 200 21-49 12-17 10-31 13 18 59

 

Percentages: FG .429, FT .706.

3-Point Goals: 5-16, .313 (Crabbe 3-10, Gutierrez 1-3, Cobbs 1-3).

Team Rebounds: 0.

Blocked Shots: 6 (Crabbe 2, Kravish 2, Kamp, Thurman).

Turnovers: 17 (Smith 4, Gutierrez 4, Cobbs 3, Crabbe 2, Kamp 2, Kravish, Thurman).

Steals: 4 (Crabbe 2, Gutierrez 2).

Colorado 28 42 -- 70

California 27 32 -- 59

 

A -- 11,615.

Officials -- Chris Rastatter, Tony Padilla, Mike Greenstein.