What went right: The Buffs were outstanding defensively, holding a UCLA team averaging more than 90 points in league play to a season-low scoring total.
What went wrong: UCLA outrebounded the Buffs 39-33.
Star of the game: George King. The senior carried the Buffs on Saturday night, connecting on a career-best six 3-pointers and posting the 13th double-double of his career with 26 points and 10 rebounds. King also posted a career-high three blocked shots.
What’s next: The Buffs return home to face the Washington schools beginning Thursday night against Washington State (6 p.m., Pac-12 Network).
LOS ANGELES — The Colorado Buffaloes no longer are winless at Pauley Pavilion.
Using an inspired defensive effort that stifled one of the most potent offenses in the Pac-12 Conference while getting a stellar performance from senior George King, the CU men’s basketball team stunned UCLA Saturday night with a 68-59 victory.
It was the Buffs’ first victory in a true road game this season, and it erased the team’s 0-8 all-time mark at Pauley Pavilion.
“We caught them on an off night and maybe our defense had something to do with that. I’d like to think it did,” CU head coach Tad Boyle said. “UCLA wasn’t at their best tonight. I have a lot of respect for Steve Alford and his program and the players that they have. But I’m awful proud of our guys. I think we had something to do with maybe them not being at their best. Our defensive effort was fantastic, man and zone.”
UCLA held its only lead of the game in the opening moments at 2-0 as the Buffs answered every challenge the rest of the way from the host Bruins.
The Buffs dominated the first half, taking a 17-point lead on King’s third 3-pointer of the opening frame with a little more than three minutes remaining. UCLA answered with nine consecutive points, but two free throws from Namon Wright gave CU a 39-29 lead at the break.
UCLA scored the first four points of the second half to get within six, but CU responded with six consecutive points to maintain control. When Bruins senior Thomas Welsh single-handedly rallied UCLA by scoring all the points in a 10-0 run, the Buffs answered with seven consecutive points. That burst included King’s sixth 3-pointer of the game, which established a new career-high.
The Bruins entered the game averaging 85.5 points with a 91.8 mark in their first five Pac-12 games. But by mixing defenses and utilizing a frontcourt trap that frustrated UCLA leading scorer Aaron Holiday, the Buffs were able to hold UCLA to a season-low scoring total. Holiday was shooting .528 in league games but went 4-for-13 while scoring just 10 points.
UCLA finished 5-for-25 on 3-pointers. The Buffs were 11-for-22.
“We tried to slow them down and tried to keep them out of transition, because UCLA is a team that’s huge in transition,” King said. “The head of that snake for that team is Aaron Holiday, a very talented player and very talented scorer. We were able to slow him down with some zones and our defensive aggressiveness.”
King finished 7-for-12 from the field with a 6-for-10 mark on 3-pointers, posting team-leading totals of 26 points and 10 rebounds for the 13th double-double of his career. The Buffs also made progress in the turnover issue that has plagued the team of late, committing just 12 after averaging 17.8 through their first five league games. Several of those turnovers occurred in the final minute with the Buffs clearly in control.
No other CU player scored in double figures, with Namon Wright finishing with nine points and freshman Tyler Bey scoring seven points to go with seven rebounds. CU leading scorer McKinley Wright was held to four points, but he finished with seven assists against just two turnovers.
CU went 13-for-17 on free throws while the Bruins struggled to an 8-for-18 mark.
“I felt really good shooting the ball tonight. Confident,” King said. “It felt really good coming off my hand. I’ve never had a good shooting performance at this place, and to get one my senior year means a lot to me.”
COLORADO 68, UCLA 59
COLORADO (11-7, 3-3)
Walton 3-5 0-0 6, King 7-12 6-6 26, N.Wright 3-6 2-4 9, M.Wright 1-8 2-2 4, Bey 3-7 1-3 7, Siewert 0-1 0-0 0, Nikolic 1-1 0-0 2, Brown 2-6 0-0 6, Collier 1-2 2-2 5, Schwartz 1-3 0-0 3. Totals 22-51 13-17 68.
UCLA (13-5, 4-2)
Goloman 2-5 2-2 6, Welsh 9-10 0-0 20, Holiday 4-13 1-2 10, Ali 1-7 1-4 3, Wilkes 3-11 3-3 10, Olesinski 1-2 0-2 2, Hands 3-11 1-2 8, Smith 0-3 0-3 0. Totals 23-62 8-18 59.
Halftime — Colorado 39-29. 3-point goals — Colorado 11-22 (King 6-10, Brown 2-2, Schwartz 1-2, Collier 1-2, N.Wright 1-3, Siewert 0-1, M.Wright 0-2), UCLA 5-25 (Welsh 2-3, Holiday 1-4, Wilkes 1-6, Hands 1-6, Goloman 0-1, Smith 0-2, Ali 0-3). Fouled out — None. Rebounds — Colorado 29 (King 10), UCLA 38 (Wilkes 9). Assists — Colorado 17 (M.Wright 7), UCLA 13 (Holiday 4). Total fouls — Colorado 16, UCLA 17.