What went right: The Buffs rallied twice from deficits on the road and went 16-for-20 at the free throw line.
What went wrong: CU was dominated on the glass, getting outrebounded for the second game in a row by a 46-31 margin.
Star of the game: George King. The fourth-year junior posted his second consecutive double-double and his fourth of the season with 14 points and 12 rebounds.
What’s next: It’s finals time for the Buffaloes, who do not play again until Saturday, Dec. 17 at home against Division II Fort Hays State.
PROVO, Utah — There were several things the Colorado Buffaloes expected when they hit the Marriott Center floor Saturday night.
They expected a hostile environment from the biggest crowd the Buffs have played before this season. They expected the host Brigham Young Cougars to push the pace and feed off the crowd.
And, perhaps most importantly for CU, the Buffs expected to weather an early onslaught from BYU before making their move.
The Buffs did it, twice actually at the beginning of each half, but a final run evaded CU as BYU pulled away down the stretch to hand the Buffs a 79-71 defeat.
The Cougars used a 12-2 run late in the second half to pull away, while the Buffs picked the worst possible time to endure a lengthy field goal drought. CU was outrebounded for the second consecutive game, with the Buffs getting dominated by a 46-31 margin by the Cougars on the glass.
“Rebounding, we just got our tails kicked by BYU. There’s no other way to put it,” CU head coach Tad Boyle said. “The rebounding is the thing that sticks in my craw. I can’t get over that because that’s what we pride ourselves on. I’m sure BYU prides themselves on it too, But on the board (in the locker room) is to protect the paint, which we didn’t do. And win the battle of the boards, which we didn’t do. Ball game. You don’t do what you’re supposed to do, you’re not going to win a game.”
As advertised BYU enjoyed the emotional edge early, scoring seven consecutive points in an early 10-2 run that gave the Cougars the lead for the bulk of the first half.
The Cougars still led by seven points after consecutive 3-pointers by sophomore Nick Emery late in the half when the Buffs put together an 11-4 run to draw even at 38-38. Derrick White scored seven of those points, capping the run with a 3-pointer. However a putback basket by BYU’s Eric Mika gave the host Cougars a 40-38 lead at the break.
BYU reeled off a 10-2 run early in the second half to take a 10-point lead with just under 16 minutes remaining when Xavier Johnson came alive for the Buffs. The fifth-year senior scored 10 straight points for CU during a 12-1 run that gave the Buffs their first lead since the game’s early minutes.
The game went back-and-forth down the stretch, with the Buffs managing large stretches of time with White on the bench with four fouls, three of which he was whistled for within the first six minutes after halftime.
CU held a 62-61 lead with 7 minutes, 51 seconds remaining after a free throw by Wesley Gordon, but BYU answered with eight consecutive points in a 12-2 run to pull away down the stretch. CU went without a field goal for more than eight minutes between a Thomas Akyazili 3-pointer with 8:53 to go and a White three-pointer with 42.1 seconds left.
White connected on 7 of 12 shots from the floor and led the Buffs with 21 points. Johnson scored 17 points and George King posted his second consecutive double-double and his fourth of the season with 14 points and 12 rebounds.
“The only way you can win is by getting stops. If we can’t score, we can’t allow the other team to score,” King said. “We have to do a better job of focusing in on that. We all have to rebound collectively. It has to be team rebounding. You can say, OK, I had 12 rebounds, but that’s just one person. I’d rather have five and another guy have five and another guy have five. We got outrebounded by 15. I think that was pretty much the ball game. We didn’t do a good job of defending in the second half and we got beat on the boards. It wasn’t necessarily Colorado basketball out there tonight.”
BYU 79, COLORADO 71
Gordon 1-3 1-2 3, Fortune 0-8 0-0 0, White 7-12 4-4 21, King 5-13 4-4 14, Johnson 5-13 5-5 17, Siewert 2-3 0-0 5, Miller 2-2 2-4 6, Akyazili 1-4 0-0 3, Brown 0-0 0-0 0, Peters 1-4 0-1 2. Totals 24-62 16-20 71.
Mika 3-11 11-13 17, Childs 5-7 1-5 11, Emery 8-15 3-4 22, Rose 2-8 0-0 5, Haws 5-9 2-3 16, Shaw 0-0 0-0 0, Guinn 0-1 1-2 1, Aytes 0-0 0-0 0, Davis 2-4 0-0 4, Leifson 0-0 0-0 0, Beo 1-3 0-2 3. Totals 26-58 18-29 79.
Halftime — BYU 40-38. 3-point goals — Colorado 7-29 (White 3-6, Johnson 2-6, Siewert 1-2, Akyazili 1-2, Peters 0-3, King 0-4, Fortune 0-6), BYU 9-19 (Haws 4-5, Emery 3-8, Beo 1-1, Rose 1-4, Guinn 0-1). Fouled out — None. Rebounds — Colorado 31 (King 12), BYU 38 (Childs 12). Assists — Colorado 14 (Akyazili, Gordon 4), BYU 17 (Mika 6). Total fouls — Colorado 25, BYU 21.