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Strong defense, balanced offense lifts CU Buffs to key win against Utah

  • Colorado's Tyler Bey shoots over Utah's Jayce Johnson on Saturday...

    Cliff Grassmick / Staff Photographer

    Colorado's Tyler Bey shoots over Utah's Jayce Johnson on Saturday at CU Events Center. Go to for more photos

  • Colorado's D'Shawn Schwartz, right, puts up a shot against Utah's...

    Cliff Grassmick / Staff Photographer

    Colorado's D'Shawn Schwartz, right, puts up a shot against Utah's Donnie Tillman on Saturday.



Fast break

What went right: The Buffs committed only nine turnovers — their lowest total in Pac-12 play and second-lowest of the season — and held the top 3-point team in the league to a 5-for-26 mark from the arc.

What went wrong: Utah posted a 34-33 rebounding edge with 12 offensive rebounds, leading to a 13-8 advantage on second-chance points.

Star of the game: Tyler Bey. The sophomore forward posted his sixth double-double in eight games with 17 points and 10 rebounds. Bey also matched a career-high with three assists.

What’s next: The Buffs’ regular season-closing homestand continues Thursday against UCLA (7 p.m., ESPN2).

One down. Two to go.

The Colorado men’s basketball team will need help from its rivals around the Pac-12 Conference in order to finish in the league’s top four, which would secure a first-round bye for the conference tournament in Las Vegas. However, such a finish also requires the Buffaloes to take care of business at home to close the regular season.

That goal got off to a good start Saturday.

Shackling the Pac-12’s top 3-point shooting team while four players scored in double figures, the Buffs posted a 71-63 victory against Utah at the CU Events Center. With two games remaining in the regular season — both at home next week against UCLA and USC — the Buffs will enter the final week squarely in the mix in the Pac-12’s jumbled pack.

It was CU’s second straight home win against the Utes, though Utah still has won nine of the teams’ past 11 meetings.

“It’s so hard to win basketball games this time of year, especially when you’re playing against a quality program like Utah is,” CU head coach Tad Boyle said. “I say this when we play Arizona a lot, you have to beat them. I think the same is true with Utah. You have to beat Utah, because they’re not going to beat themselves. I thought our defensive toughness, our defensive identity, really exhibited itself tonight. And it has to. That’s got to be something that has to be a constant.”

Utah entered the game as the Pac-12’s leader in overall 3-point percentage (.380) and also owned a league-best .396 mark in Pac-12 games, but the Buffs held the Utes to a season-low mark of .192 (5-for-26) on 3-pointers. Two Utes among the league leaders in 3-point percentage, senior guards Sedrick Barefield and Parker Van Dyke, combined to go 2-for-11 on 3-pointers.

The Buffs never trailed after putting together a 9-0 run early in the first half and pushed their lead to 13 in the second half.

The Utes were able to make things interesting late, using a few missed free throws by CU and a Barefield 3-pointer to get within six points with 2 minutes, 12 seconds left. However, with his mother in the stands visiting from Brazil to take in her first game at the CU Events Center, Lucas Siewert made sure his only field goal was a big one, knocking down a 3-pointer that once again pushed CU’s lead to nine points.

After a Barefield drive, CU guard McKinley Wright drained another clutch 3-pointer just before the shot clock buzzer, giving the Buffs a 10-point advantage with 48 seconds remaining.

“I think it was just a matter of knowing personnel,” CU sophomore guard D’Shawn Schwartz said. “We were really focused on running people off the line that we needed to and making drivers make sure they don’t get in the paint. It’s a lot harder to drive and kick for threes when the drivers stay out of the paint.”

CU sophomore forward Tyler Bey posted his sixth double-double in eight games, finishing with team-leading totals of 17 points and 10 rebounds. Bey also set a season-high and matched his career-high with three assists.

Schwartz knocked down a key 3-pointer at the halftime buzzer before finishing with 16 points and six rebounds. Redshirt freshman Evan Battey, making his second consecutive start, contributed 15 points and four rebounds.

“D’Shawn’s three at the end of the half. Huge play, a momentum play going into halftime,” Boyle said. “And Lucas’ three, it was the only one he made all night but it was a big one.”

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UTAH (15-13, 9-7)

Tillman 4-7 4-4 14, Gach 5-13 2-2 12, Allen 5-11 0-0 11, Johnson 1-4 0-0 2, Barefield 7-16 3-4 19, Battin 1-3 0-0 2, Morley 0-0 0-0 0, Topalovic 1-1 1-1 3, Jones 0-1 0-0 0, Van Dyke 0-5 0-0 0. Totals 24-61 10-11 63.

COLORADO (17-11, 8-8)

Battey 6-9 3-5 15, M.Wright 3-10 2-2 10, Gatling 1-4 0-1 3, Bey 7-10 3-4 17, Schwartz 5-10 5-6 16, Strating 1-1 1-1 3, Siewert 1-5 1-2 4, Kountz 1-3 1-2 3. Totals 25-52 16-23 71.

Halftime — Colorado 35-26. 3-point goals — Utah 5-26 (Tillman 2-5, Barefield 2-8, Allen 1-2, Jones 0-1, Battin 0-1, Van Dyke 0-3, Gach 0-6), Colorado 5-15 (M.Wright 2-4, Gatling 1-2, Schwartz 1-4, Siewert 1-4, Kountz 0-1). Fouled out — None. Rebounds — Utah 34 (Johnson 13), Colorado 33 (Bey 10). Assists — Utah 11 (Gach 4), Colorado 14 (Gatling 4). Total fouls — Utah 18, Colorado 15. A — 8,405.