LAS VEGAS — Tyler Bey has had the Pac-12 Conference tournament circled on his personal calendar pretty much from the moment he first committed to play basketball for the Colorado Buffaloes.
And clearly, Bey reveled in the opportunity to play his first collegiate game in his hometown.
With a sizeable contingent of friends and family members in the stands, CU's freshman forward put on a show for the hometown crowd, posting his second double-double of the season with 14 points and 10 rebounds in the Buffs' 97-85 first-round win Wednesday against Arizona State.
"I love to play in front of friends and family, and coaches of mine," Bey said. "It's great. We all decided we were going to play for the seniors. It's their last go-around."
Bey went 5-for-11 from the floor and was a perfect 4-for-4 at the free throw line, reaching a season-high 14 points for the third time this season. His four offensive rebounds helped the Buffs enjoy a 12-9 advantage on second-chance points, and afterward head coach Tad Boyle also lauded Bey's interior defense as well.
"Tyler was terrific," Boyle said. "He was rebounding the ball. He was defending. That 15-footer he made on the baseline, that was a big shot there in the second half. Tyler is in his hometown, and you can't ever discount how kids want to play in their hometowns. I was really happy for him."
The Buffs' victory celebration was momentarily delayed when a shoving match erupted in the waning moments after a Bey alley-oop dunk with seven seconds remaining.
With the outcome decided ASU took umbrage with the play, as senior Tra Holder shoved Bey to the floor. Given the myriad aspects of the collegiate game the CU newcomers have had to absorb this season, one thing Boyle admitted he never really has gone over with his team is how to handle those sorts of late-game situations while holding a lead. Even though the shot clock still was in play during that situation Wednesday, Boyle took responsibility for ASU's ruffled feathers and said he apologized to the Sun Devils afterward.
"We haven't gone over that situation, and I don't ever want to feel like we're rubbing it in somebody's face," Boyle said. "Maybe Arizona State took it that way, so I apologized to them for that happening. But that's on me. It's not on the players. I haven't gone over that situation enough, obviously.
"I don't want to take the turnover, but you shoot the ball and you have it hit the rim and you play it out. You don't throw an alley-oop."
It was a painful act of attrition for Boyle, whose abrupt leap off the bench to help diffuse the skirmish resulted in what is believed to be a torn calf muscle.
"That man means a lot to me and our team," senior Dom Collier said. "He means a lot to all of us and we love him. We hope he gets better fast and we know he's got our back."
Added Boyle, who was fitted in a walking boot after the game: "It was a non-contact injury due to age. It felt like a sniper hit me in the back of my calf."
Collier fared well in the one-on-one battle against ASU freshman Remy Martin, with whom he shared the first annual Pac-12 Conference Sixth Man of the Year Award.
Martin outscored Collier 20 to 17 and went a solid 3-for-6 on 3-pointers. Collier went 3-for-4 on 3-pointers and 8-for-10 at the free throw line, but getting the victory was far more satisfying to CU's senior guard than any personal battle.
"He deserved the award just as much," Collier said. "But it wasn't a personal battle. I just didn't want my season to end, for our season to end, as a team. That wasn't even in my mind, the personal battle."
The Buffs finished with just seven turnovers, their second-lowest mark of the season. CU committed six of those seven in the first half and ASU proved incredibly adept at taking advantage of those mistakes, using three 3-pointers and a 3-point play to post 13 points off turnovers in the first half. But the Buffs were able to hold the Sun Devils to that total after committing just one turnover after halftime.
It was only the third game this season with a single-digit turnover for the Buffs. CU committed a season-low six at home against Washington on Jan. 20 and has nine against San Diego on Dec. 12. The Buffs lost both those games, an odd quirk for a team that has struggled with turnovers for much of the season.
"He's a problem. He's a problem."
— Members of the UCLA coaching staff while watching CU freshman point guard McKinley Wright record 20 points, 11 assists, and eight rebounds.
CU improved to 11-5 all-time at the Pac-12 tournament...The combined 26 made 3-pointers by CU and ASU tied a Pac-12 tournament record...CU went 13-for-21 on 3-pointers, making at least 10 in a game for the ninth time this season... Wright became the eighth player in the history of the league tournament to record at least 11 assists. His 11 assists matched a season-high set in a double-overtime win against South Dakota State in December...With 12 points, CU sophomore forward Lucas Siewert has hit double-digits in four consecutive games. He has shot .563 (18-for-32) during that span...Freshman D'Shawn Schwartz matched a season-high with 10 points...CU and ASU combined for 19 lead changes.