LAS VEGAS — He only scored four points, but junior guard Eli Parquet arguably was the most important player on the floor for Colorado.
Fresh off earning Pac-12 Conference first team All-Defense honors, Parquet put the clamps on Cal star and noted Buffaloes torturer Matt Bradley, leading a defensive effort that helped No. 23 CU to a 61-58 win against the Golden Bears in the quarterfinals of the conference tournament.
A month ago, Bradley torched the Buffs for a career-high 29 points as Cal upset CU in Berkeley. Moreover, in his previous three games against the Buffs, Bradley had averaged 24 points while shooting .535 from the field. Bradley also was coming off a 19-point, six-rebound, six-assist performance in a first-round win on Wednesday against Stanford.
Parquet made certain that didn’t happen again. Bradley didn’t score until he knocked down three free throws with 11 minutes, 22 seconds remaining after getting fouled by Tristan da Silva on a long-range attempt. Bradley missed his first eight shots and didn’t record a field goal until almost five minutes later. He soon fouling out after scoring just 10 points.
“Eli was terrific and did an incredible job,” CU head coach Tad Boyle said. “I think Matt Bradley was scoreless until we fouled him on a 3-point jump shot and he made three free throws and saw the ball go in the basket. And then he started to feel it a little bit. We held him scoreless at halftime. We were trying to double-team him on any ball-screens or handoffs that he was a part of. WE tried to get the ball out of his hands and we did a good job of that. I think it frustrated him in the first half.
“He’s a good player. He torched us in Berkeley so we had to come up with something. I think we did a good job of that for the most part.”
Hurry and wait
With two overtime games ahead of the Buffs on Thursday, including USC’s double-overtime win against Utah, CU and the Bears didn’t tip off until about an hour after the scheduled 9:30 p.m. MT start. But Boyle said all that unexpected idling in the locker room didn’t contribute to the Buffs’ sluggish start.
“It’s just part of it,” Boyle said. “A lot of them have played in state tournaments in high school and that happens. And it happens in AAU events that they play in. Here’s what I like about our team — our team was enjoying this moment. In today’s technology world, they had the (USC) game on their phones. They were following it. They were just enjoying themselves. And I want them to do that.”
The Buffs improved to 4-0 against Cal in the Pac-12 tournament…Combining his 3-for-4 night with CU’s two nonconference wins in Las Vegas in December, 7-footer Dallas Walton is 10-for-14 in three games at T-Mobile Arena this season…Although CU’s season free throw percentage dipped slightly even after an 18-for-23 performance, it was another standout effort by the Buffs from the line. CU made its first 13 free throws of the game, with seven different players combining to produce that mark…The Buffs reached 21 wins for the 10th time in team history and the eighth time under Boyle.