CU men’s basketball notes: Though rally falls short, Buffs’ youngsters provide second-half boost

Buffs struggling to shoot away from home

LOS ANGELES, CA - DECEMBER 01: Kenneth Nwuba #14 of the UCLA Bruins is defended by Lawson Lovering #34 and Nique Clifford #32 of the Colorado Buffaloes as he goes up for a basket in the first half of the game at UCLA Pauley Pavilion on December 1, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA – DECEMBER 01: Kenneth Nwuba #14 of the UCLA Bruins is defended by Lawson Lovering #34 and Nique Clifford #32 of the Colorado Buffaloes as he goes up for a basket in the first half of the game at UCLA Pauley Pavilion on December 1, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images)

LOS ANGELES — Making big runs after halftime is becoming the norm for the Colorado men’s basketball team.

What was unusual on Wednesday was the combination of players on the floor when the Buffaloes made their charge at No. 5 UCLA.

Necessity became the mother of invention for CU head coach Tad Boyle during the Buffs’ 73-61 loss at Pauley Pavilion. With senior Evan Battey struggling with foul trouble throughout the night, the Buffs utilized an unusual lineup midway through the second half that included starter Tristan da Silva alongside Nique Clifford, KJ Simpson, Luke O’Brien, and Lawson Lovering.

The unit did the bulk of the damage in a 10-1 run that briefly brought CU within four points before the Bruins pulled away down the stretch. Clifford, who finished with nine points and five rebounds, scored five points during that run.

“A lot of our lineups tonight were out of necessity,” Boyle said. “Our young guys have to grow up quickly. These games are great experiences for them to do that.”

Lovering played 14 minutes, his high for the season outside the 17 minutes he played in a rout of Maine two weeks ago. Battey eventually fouled out with 6:30 remaining. It was the eighth time in his career that Battey fouled out, but his first since a home game against USC on Feb. 20, 2020.

Long range woes

If the Buffs hope to have a successful campaign on the road in Pac-12 play, they will have to find a way to shoot better outside the CU Events Center.

The Buffs struggled to a 5-for-21 showing from 3-point range against UCLA, and while home-road splits are nothing out of the ordinary in college basketball, CU’s numbers have been particularly unbalanced so far.

In CU’s home games, it has shot .435 (30-for-69) on 3-pointers. Yet between Wednesday’s loss at UCLA, which was CU’s first true road game of the season, and the three games at the Paradise Jam, the Buffs have shot just .222 (14-for-63) from the arc.

Notable

UCLA played its seventh game without forward Cody Riley, who suffered a knee injury in the season opener….The Bruins suffered an injury scare when second-leading scorer Jaime Jaquez took a foul on a drive to the bucket and slammed his head on the floor. He exited the game at the 12 minute, 18 second mark of the first half and did not return…CU freshman Javon Ruffin, sidelined the entire season so far due to a knee injury, took a step forward on Wednesday by participating brace-free in the Buffs’ pregame drills…The Buffs recorded more turnovers (12) than assists (11) for the second consecutive game and the third time in the past four games…Starting point guard Keeshawn Barthelemy was not part of that equation, as he finished with four assists and no turnovers in 21 and a half minutes. But his recent shooting slide continued, as Barthelemy’s 1-for-5 night gave him a 4-for-18 mark over the past three games…CU fell to 2-11 all-time at UCLA.