LOS ANGELES — A little more than 24 hours before their tipoff against UCLA, Colorado basketball head coach Tad Boyle and his freshman point guard, McKinley Wright, discussed some of the growing pains Wright was enduring in terms of finding a way to help his team win on nights when his shot wasn’t falling.
On Saturday at Pauley Pavilion Wright went out and did just that, playing a key role in the Buffaloes’ first-ever win at UCLA despite scoring a season-low four points. Wright finished with seven assists — recording all of them in the first half as the Buffs took control — while committing just two turnovers, his lowest total since CU’s final nonconference game against Iowa on Dec. 22.
“It’s amazing that with me leading the team in scoring throughout the year, on a night I have four points and we come out with a win like this,” Wright said. “That just goes to show you how many guys we have that can score the ball, and guys can get hot on any given night. I wasn’t worried about scoring it. I was worried about coming out with our first road win of the year.”
Wright went 1-for-8 from the field and 2-for-2 at the free throw line. Yet his biggest contribution might have been helping the Buffs to overcome their recent propensity for turnovers. CU entered the game averaging 17.8 turnovers in the first five Pac-12 games but committed just 12 against UCLA. Two of those occurred in the final two minutes with the Buffs clearly in control.
Wright also had struggled in that department, committing 25 turnovers in his first five Pac-12 games.
“I was just taking what the defense was giving me,” Wright said. “I was getting into the lane and getting by my man, and they were bringing guys to help. Coach told me the previous game that that’s teams’ game plan now to take me out of the game. Tonight, UCLA did a good job of helping on me, so I was just able to find the open man.”
King takes charge
Two days previous to Saturday’s win, CU senior George King officially owned 11 career double-doubles. After his 26-point, 10-rebound performance against UCLA, King jumped all the way up to 13 career double-doubles.
The discrepancy came from a scoring error late in Wednesday’s loss at USC, as a late King rebound wasn’t credited and left him with nine rebounds in the final game statistics. That was corrected by the time the Buffs hit the floor Saturday at Pauley Pavilion, meaning King posted double-doubles on both games of the Los Angeles trip. His 26 points was a season-best and, for King, trailed only the career-best 27 he scored at Auburn early in the 2015-16 season.
King continues to climb a number of CU’s all-time charts. His 26 points against UCLA pushed his career scoring total to 1,035 and allowed King to jump from 28th to 25th among the Buffs’ all-time scoring leaders. With 10 rebounds, King surpassed CU radio analyst Scott Wilke for 23rd-place on the program’s all-time rebounding list. And with a career-best six 3-pointers against the Bruins, King increased his career total to 154 and passed Marcus Hall for sixth-place among CU’s all-time leaders.
The Buffs went 21-for-45 on 3-pointers in the two games in Los Angeles…Freshman Tyler Bey grabbed seven rebounds, the third time in the past four games he has recorded at least seven…UCLA had won 25 of its previous 27 home games before Saturday.
Pat Rooney: email@example.com or twitter.com/prooney07