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Late surge pushes CU Buffs past UCLA on Senior Night

McKinley Wright IV scores 26 points to pace Buffs

  • BOULDER, CO - February 27, 2021: A victory hug with Colorado's Jeriah Horne and Evan Battey, during the UCLA at Colorado Pac-12 game in Boulder on February 27, 2021. (Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)

  • Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer

    BOULDER, CO - February 27, 2021: Colorado's McKinley Wright IV drives past UCLA's Jaime Jaquez during the UCLA at Colorado Pac-12 game in Boulder on February 27, 2021. (Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)

  • BOULDER, CO - February 27, 2021: Colorado's McKinley Wright IV shoots over UCLA's Tyger Campbell during the UCLA at Colorado Pac-12 game in Boulder on February 27, 2021. (Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)

  • BOULDER, CO - February 27, 2021: Colorado's Jeriah Horne rebounds during the UCLA at Colorado Pac-12 game in Boulder on February 27, 2021. (Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)

  • BOULDER, CO - February 27, 2021: Colorado's McKinley Wright IV shoots over UCLA's David Singleton during the UCLA at Colorado Pac-12 game in Boulder on February 27, 2021. (Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)

  • Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer

    BOULDER, CO - February 27, 2021: Colorado's Eli Parquet glides to the basket during the UCLA at Colorado Pac-12 game in Boulder on February 27, 2021. (Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)

  • BOULDER, CO - February 27, 2021: Colorado's Dallas Walton on the jump hook during the UCLA at Colorado Pac-12 game in Boulder on February 27, 2021. (Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)

  • BOULDER, CO - February 27, 2021: Colorado's Jeriah Horne shoots over UCLA's Jaime Jaquez during the UCLA at Colorado Pac-12 game in Boulder on February 27, 2021. (Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)

  • BOULDER, CO - February 27, 2021: A victory hug with Colorado's Jeriah Horne and Evan Battey, during the UCLA at Colorado Pac-12 game in Boulder on February 27, 2021. (Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)

  • BOULDER, CO - February 27, 2021: Colorado's Evan Battey drives on UCLA's Cody Riley during the UCLA at Colorado Pac-12 game in Boulder on February 27, 2021. (Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)

  • BOULDER, CO - February 27, 2021: Colorado's D'Shawn Schwartz drives on UCLA's Jules Bernard during the UCLA at Colorado Pac-12 game in Boulder on February 27, 2021. (Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)

  • BOULDER, CO - February 27, 2021: Colorado's Evan Battey battles with UCLA's Johnny Juzang during the UCLA at Colorado Pac-12 game in Boulder on February 27, 2021. (Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)

  • Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer

    BOULDER, CO - February 27, 2021: Colorado's Evan Battey drives on UCLA's Mac Etienne during the UCLA at Colorado Pac-12 game in Boulder on February 27, 2021. (Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)

  • BOULDER, CO - February 27, 2021: CU's Tad Boyle during the UCLA at Colorado Pac-12 game in Boulder on February 27, 2021. (Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)

  • BOULDER, CO - February 27, 2021: Colorado's Evan Battey drives on UCLA's Mac Etienne during the UCLA at Colorado Pac-12 game in Boulder on February 27, 2021. (Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)

  • BOULDER, CO - February 27, 2021: Colorado's Evan Battey rebounds on UCLA's Cody Riley during the UCLA at Colorado Pac-12 game in Boulder on February 27, 2021. (Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)

  • BOULDER, CO - February 27, 2021: Colorado's Dallas Walton get a rebound over UCLA's Jules Bernard during the UCLA at Colorado Pac-12 game in Boulder on February 27, 2021. (Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)

  • BOULDER, CO - February 27, 2021: Colorado's Evan Battey drives on UCLA's Mac Etienne during the UCLA at Colorado Pac-12 game in Boulder on February 27, 2021. (Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)

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Was there ever a doubt McKinley Wright IV would put on a show for Senior Night?

Colorado’s senior point guard turned in another memorable performance in a critical showdown for the Buffaloes, leading CU to a 70-61 win against UCLA on Saturday night in a Pac-12 Conference battle at the CU Events Center.

In a back-and-forth game, it was the Buffs who dominated down the stretch, reeling off a 15-1 run that turned a two-point UCLA lead into a 70-58 led for the Buffs in the final minute. CU held UCLA without a field goal for nearly 7 minutes during the latter stages of the second half to keep alive their slim chances at winning the Pac-12 regular season title.

While the Buffs still will need help to claim the league’s top spot, the victory, combined with USC’s loss on Saturday at Utah, opens the door for the Buffs to at least move into a top-three spot. But any scenario in which the Buffs move up out of their current fourth-place slot requires a win against Arizona State in the regular season finale on Thursday.

“We showed great discipline, great patience,” CU head coach Tad Boyle said. “They’ve got great players. Tyger Campbell is good. Jaime Jaquez is really good. Jules Bernard is playing at a high level. (Johnny) Juzang shoots it as good as anybody in the country. Getting Cody Riley in foul trouble was a key to this game.

“I thought our depth and our ability to close the game out by making plays…we played them in LA back in early January, they made the plays down the stretch. They got the stops down the stretch and they made the shots down the stretch. Tonight, we did that. Our guys played with great toughness, great belief, and great heart. We were dialed-in there down the stretch.”

Wright went 10-for-16 and finished with 26 points, six assists, and five rebounds. It was Wright’s top scoring mark of the season and the third-highest of his career. For much of the night, Wright carried the offense. Yet during the decisive 15-1 run late, the Buffs received timely contributions across the board.

Starters Eli Parquet and D’Shawn Schwartz scored just four points apiece, but they got the 15-1 run started with back-to-back drives to the hoop. Senior Jeriah Horne shook off a slow start to finish with 10 points, half of which he scored during CU’s decisive run. Evan Battey went 8-for-9 at the free throw line, including a perfect 4-for-4 during the 15-1 run. Battey finished with 12 points and six rebounds.

CU shot .545 in the second half and forced 14 UCLA turnovers, leading to a whopping 23-1 edge for the Buffs in points off turnovers. The top free throw shooting team in the nation enjoyed another big night at the line, with Wright, Battey, and Horne combining to produce CU’s final 15-for-18 mark.

“It was fun. It’s hard to put in words,” Wright said. “I love everybody on my team and I just wanted to come out and be aggressive tonight. The last couple times we played UCLA I felt I wasn’t aggressive enough, and we lost the last three times we played them. I put it in my mind that if I’m 14, 15 shots and if we lose like that, we lose by that.

“I just tried to stay aggressive. My teammates kept telling me keep going in there and they were rocking with me. It was a big night.”

Fast break

What went right: CU shot .545 in the second half, committed just six turnovers, and went 15-for-18 at the free throw line.

What went wrong: UCLA outrebounded the Buffs 31-26.

Star of the game: McKinley Wright IV. In his penultimate home game, Wright produced his second-highest home scoring total, going 10-for-16 from the field before finishing with 26 points, six assists, and five rebounds.

What’s next: With the Buffs still in the mix for the Pac-12’s top seed, CU completes the regular season against Arizona State on Thursday.

Colorado 70, UCLA 61

UCLA (17-5, 13-4 Pac-12)
Riley 2-3 3-4 7, Bernard 2-5 2-4 7, Campbell 4-11 0-0 9, Juzang 7-12 8-8 25, Jaquez 1-6 1-3 3, Clark 5-6 0-0 10, Singleton 0-1 0-0 0, Etienne 0-0 0-0 0, Kyman 0-2 0-0 0, Nwuba 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 21-46 14-19 61.
COLORADO (19-7, 13-6 Pac-12)
Battey 2-9 8-9 12, Walton 1-4 0-0 2, Parquet 2-5 0-0 4, Wright 10-16 4-6 26, Schwartz 2-5 0-0 4, Horne 3-7 3-3 10, Daniels 2-5 0-0 5, Walker 0-0 0-0 0, da Silva 3-3 0-0 7, Barthelemy 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 25-54 15-18 70.

Halftime — UCLA 35-34. 3-point goals — UCLA 5-13 (Juzang 3-4, Bernard 1-3, Campbell 1-3, Singleton 0-1, Jaquez 0-2), Colorado 5-15 (Wright 2-3, da Silva 1-1, Daniels 1-4, Horne 1-4, Parquet 0-1, Schwartz 0-2). Fouled out — Riley. Rebounds — UCLA 31 (Jaquez 8), Colorado 26 (Battey, Daniels 6). Assists — UCLA 9 (Campbell 4), Colorado 9 (Wright 6). Total fouls — UCLA 18, Colorado 14. Technicals — Walton, UCLA bench.