Fast break

What went right: The Buffs held UCLA well under its league-leading scoring average of 80.4 points, and CU outrebounded the Bruins 47-35.

What went wrong: Very little, though UCLA did post a slight 9-6 advantage on second-chance points.

Star of the game: Tyler Bey. The sophomore forward kept rolling with his fourth consecutive double-double and his seventh in nine games, matching a career-high with 27 points while adding 13 rebounds.

What's next: The Buffs will finish no worse than fifth in the Pac-12 if they can end the regular season with a win at home Saturday against USC (3 p.m., Pac-12 Network).

The Colorado Buffaloes want to keep playing meaningful basketball in March for as long as possible.

A big win Thursday night sets up what should be an electric regular-season finale at home Saturday.

Coach Tad Boyle's club kept alive its goal of a potential top-four finish in the Pac-12 Conference with a thorough 93-68 win against UCLA Thursday night at the CU Events Center.

The Buffs improved to 9-8 within the conference while posting their fourth consecutive win against UCLA. With Utah holding off USC Thursday night, CU will go into its regular-season finale against USC on Saturday needing a win along with either a Utah loss against UCLA or an Oregon State loss at Washington State in order to sneak into the top four, which comes with a first-round bye at next week's conference tournament in Las Vegas.


Even if Utah or Oregon State do not cooperate Saturday, a win by the Buffs against USC would assure CU of at least the No. 5 seed for the league tournament.

"We're trying to get in that top four seeds so we can make a run in Vegas, so that bye is really important," CU guard Shane Gatling said. "That's what the rest of the teams are playing for, they're playing for seedings and to get into that top four in the league. That's what we're trying to do. We've just got to take it one game at a time. We've got one more game to do that, and I think we can do it."

Colorado Buffaloes’ Tyler Bey, right, scored 27 points to match a career-most for a game, leading the home team to a crucial Pac-12 Conference win
Colorado Buffaloes' Tyler Bey, right, scored 27 points to match a career-most for a game, leading the home team to a crucial Pac-12 Conference win over UCLA on Thursday. (Jeremy Papasso / Staff Photographer)

In a battle between the two leading clubs in rebounding margin in Pac-12 play, Tyler Bey's 13 rebounds led CU to a 47-35 advantage on the glass. UCLA entered the game ranked second in league play with a .470 field goal percentage, but the Buffs' defense held the Bruins to a .359 mark. As has been the case throughout much of the second half of the league slate the Buffs were superb in the second half, shooting .588 (20-for-34) from the floor after the break.

"I think our interior defense was really good," Boyle said. "D'Shawn Schwartz I thought did a pretty darn good job on Kris Wilkes all night. McKinley (Wright) did a really good job on Jaylen Hands. We had some really good individual performances, but our team defense was really good. One thing our guys are doing a really good job of is it seems like a key to our game before we take the floor defensively is know personnel. Know who you're guarding — know what they do, what they do well.

"Our guys have really taken that to heart. We've got some guys that are taking it personally and taking it upon themselves, and I think they've bought into that's how you're going to win games. Especially at this time of year."

Bey posted his fourth straight double-double and his seventh in the past nine games, matching his career-high with 27 points to go with his 13 rebounds. Gatling, who scored a season-high 28 points in the Buffs' win at UCLA last month, once again turned in a strong all-around showing against the Bruins, posting his second-best scoring effort of the season with 26 points while adding three assists and three steals without a turnover.

Schwartz recorded 15 points and six rebounds, while Wright flirted with his own double-double before finishing with nine points, nine rebounds, and five assists.

"Early in the season we were struggling to be a two-half team," Wright said. "Early, we were playing well in the first half or in the second half. I think we've figured this thing out and became a two-half team."


UCLA (16-14, 9-8)

Brown 1-4 1-2 3, Hands 5-12 6-6 18, Wilkes 6-16 6-9 19, Smith 2-6 0-0 4, Singleton 1-4 0-0 3, Nwuba 0-0 1-2 1, Riley 2-6 1-2 6, Olesinski 1-2 0-0 3, Hill 0-4 0-0 0, Dodson 0-0 0-0 0, Bernard 5-9 0-2 11, Stong 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 23-64 15-23 68.

COLORADO (18-11, 9-8)

Battey 0-4 4-4 4, M.Wright 3-8 2-2 9, Gatling 7-13 10-10 26, Bey 13-20 1-2 27, Schwartz 6-13 1-2 15, Strating 1-1 0-0 2, Siewert 2-4 0-0 5, Ersek 0-0 0-0 0, Martinka 0-0 0-0 0, Kountz 2-6 0-0 5, McQuade 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 34-69 18-20 93.

Halftime — Colorado 37-27. 3-point goals — UCLA 7-19 (Hands 2-6, Riley 1-1, Olesinski 1-1, Bernard 1-2, Singleton 1-3, Wilkes 1-5, Smith 0-1), Colorado 7-21 (Schwartz 2-7, Gatling 2-8, M.Wright 1-2, Siewert 1-2, Kountz 1-2). Fouled out — Battey. Rebounds — UCLA 35 (Riley 8), Colorado 47 (Bey 13). Assists — UCLA 6 (Smith 2), Colorado 18 (M.Wright 5). Total fouls — UCLA 20, Colorado 19. A — 7,797.

Pat Rooney: or