Jeremy Papasso / Staff Photographer
Jeremy Papasso / Staff Photographer
What went right: Five players scored in double-figures in a balanced CU offense, and the Buffs also hit a season-best 14 3-pointers.
What went wrong: UCLA outrebounded the Buffs 41-38 and shot .415, the fourth straight CU opponent to hit at least 40 percent.
Star of the game: Dom Collier. The senior had his best home scoring performance in his final Pac-12 home game, hitting a season-best five 3-pointers and scoring a team-leading 19 points.
What’s next: The Buffs complete the regular season at Utah on Saturday (5 p.m., Pac-12 Mountain).
For George King, the emotions from Senior Day boiled over quickly as a pre-recorded video of his mother, an Air Force officer who is stationed in Japan, played on the video board at the Coors Events Center.
For Dom Collier the emotions took over with about 4 minutes, 39 seconds remaining in Colorado’s Pac-12 Conference home finale Sunday afternoon against UCLA.
Collier already had put together an offensive showing unlike anything he had previously enjoyed on the Coors Events Center floor when he found King for a 3-pointer that capped a game-changing run by the Buffs. At midcourt, as the reeling Bruins were forced to take a timeout, Collier pumped both fists and let out a triumphant scream while King high-fived fans along the courtside seats.
It was a fitting celebration for King and Collier, as the senior duo helped lead the Buffs to an 80-76 victory. Not only did the Buffs send their four seniors out on a victorious note, but they snapped a three-game losing streak while posting the program’s first season sweep of UCLA since joining the Pac-12 before the 2011-12 season.
“I just wanted to come out here and win,” Collier said. “We were on a three-game losing streak and we wanted to have going into Utah, because we haven’t beaten them at Utah in a while. I just wanted for the most part to come out here and win. My shot felt good. (McKinley Wright) and all the other guys kept finding me, and I was ready to shoot it.”
Collier made five 3-pointers and scored a team-leading 19 points, turning in the top home scoring performance of his career. Collier’s previous scoring high at home was 16 earlier this season against New Mexico, and Sunday’s scoring effort was his best at the Coors Events Center since he scored 18 while leading Denver East to a rout of Fossil Ridge in the 2014 Class 5A state championship game. Collier missed two late free throws which would have allowed him to match his career-high of 21 points, which he posted two years ago at Washington.
UCLA led 57-56 midway through the second half when CU freshman Lazar Nikolic knocked down a 3-pointer, the first of 12 consecutive points for the Buffs in what became a decisive 17-1 run. The Collier-to-King 3-pointer capped that burst, and the Bruins never got within one possession the rest of the way.
Collier also recorded four rebounds, three assists, two steals, and only one turnover in 33 minutes.
The Buffs were able to reverse the script of Wednesday’s loss against USC when the Trojans erased a 58-58 tie with a 17-4 run that buried CU.
“It’s heartwarming. That’s the best way to describe it,” CU coach Tad Boyle said. “I’ve said this in the past about Dom, as a coach you want it so bad for him because he’s such a good teammate, he’s such a good player. He’s given his heart and soul to this program. You’ve seen him struggle, and then you see him break out like he did today, it’s a heartwarming feeling.”
Collier was one of five CU players to score in double-figures, with King shaking off a recent shooting slump to score 16 points. King had gone just 4-for-20 during the Buffs’ three-game losing streak but made three 3-pointers with a 5-for-6 mark on free throws. Sophomore Lucas Siewert came off the bench to contribute 15 points and five rebounds, while McKinley Wright added 10 points with eight assists.
“I got extremely emotional when we came out and did the senior ceremony, seeing my mom up on the big screen. She was crying and I got a little emotional, too,” King said. “It was an emotional game, especially at the beginning. But when the tipoff started, all that was behind me and it was about winning the game. Leaving Coors your last game with a loss would have been extremely tough to swallow.”
COLORADO 80, UCLA 76
Goloman 4-5 0-0 9, Welsh 2-8 0-0 5, Hands 2-4 0-0 6, Holiday 6-19 5-8 21, Wilkes 7-17 3-4 20, Olesinski 2-3 0-0 4, Ali 4-7 0-0 11, Smith 0-2 0-0 0. Totals 27-65 8-12 76.
Walton 2-5 0-1 4, M.Wright 4-13 2-4 10, Collier 5-10 4-6 19, King 4-11 5-6 16, Bey 1-2 0-0 2, Siewert 3-5 7-8 15, Nikolic 1-2 0-0 3, Repine 0-0 0-0 0, N.Wright 4-8 0-0 11, Schwartz 0-2 0-0 0. Totals 24-58 18-25 80.
Halftime — Colorado 45-36. 3-point goals — UCLA 14-31 (Holiday 4-9, Ali 3-6, Wilkes 3-8, Hands 2-3, Goloman 1-1, Welsh 1-2, Smith 0-1, Olesinski 0-1), Colorado 14-30 (Collier 5-9, N.Wright 3-5, King 3-9, Siewert 2-2, Nikolic 1-2, Schwartz 0-1, M.Wright 0-2). Fouled out — None. Rebounds — UCLA 38 (Welsh 10), Colorado 32 (Walton 7). Assists — UCLA 12 (Holiday 6), Colorado 15 (M.Wright 8). Total fouls — UCLA 21, Colorado 15. Technicals — Holiday. A — 8,176 (11,064).