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Surging: Win streak continues for CU Buffs after dominant second half at Cal

Buffs use two 14-1 runs to pull away for fourth straight win

Colorado's Jabari Walker gets past a California defender on Feb. 18, 2022, in Berkeley, Calif. (Robert Edwards/KLC fotos)
Colorado’s Jabari Walker gets past a California defender on Feb. 18, 2022, in Berkeley, Calif. (Robert Edwards/KLC fotos)
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BERKELEY, Calif. — Tad Boyle talked after Tuesday’s win at Oregon State about Colorado’s need to generate energy off the team’s defense.

That’s exactly what happened on Thursday night.

The Buffaloes trailed at halftime but turned things around in a hurry, recording a pair of 14-1 runs in the second half to pull away from Cal for a 70-62 victory at Haas Pavilion. It was the Buffs’ fourth consecutive victory, and it was just the second win for CU at Cal in 10 games in Berkeley since joining the Pac-12 Conference.

“It wasn’t a screaming, yelling halftime. It was just kind of matter-of-fact,” said Boyle, who collected win No. 250 at CU. “They went out and they executed.”

Cal led 35-28 at halftime but CU ambushed the Bears after the break, reeling off the first 14-1 run that was capped by consecutive 3-pointers from Evan Battey and Keeshawn Barthelemy. The Buffs held Cal without a field goal for the first 5 minutes, 22 seconds after halftime while surging into the lead.

Cal remained within two points after a 3-point play from Kuany Kuany with 12:50 remaining before CU took control for good with its second 14-1 run.

Cal shot .517 in the first half but the Buffs turned up the defensive intensity a few notches after halftime. The Bears missed their first eight shots in the second half and at one point missed 17 of 19, eventually finishing with a second half shooting percentage of .250 (8-for-32). Cal also owned a 17-14 rebounding advantage at halftime, but the Buffs outrebounded the Bears 28-12 after the break.

“I think we just had to play our game,” CU freshman KJ Simpson said. “Cal likes to play in the half-court a lot. We like to get out and run. And I think that kind of messes up our game. We were kind of feeding into their game. We just needed to relax and play our style. And I think that’s the biggest thing we talked about (at halftime). Everything else was self-explanatory, like rebounding and getting through screens and stuff like that. We just got stops and did what we were supposed to do.”

Jabari Walker continued his double-double run, posting his fifth in a row with 19 points and 15 rebounds, while extending his Pac-12-leading season total to 14 double-doubles. Walker’s 15 rebounds matched a career-high he set two nights earlier at Oregon State. Simpson enjoyed a strong game off the bench, going 5-for-9 from the field and 8-for-10 at the free throw line before finishing with a season-high 19 points.

Battey also turned in a solid all-around performance, knocking down both of his 3-point attempts while recording 18 points, six rebounds, and three assists.

It also was another stellar effort at the free throw line for the Buffs, who went 15-for-16 in the second half and finished 21-for-24. Over the past four games CU has shot .855 (71-for-83) on free throws.

“We didn’t have the start we wanted, and we just wanted to make up for it in the second half,” Walker said. “It didn’t take the coaches talking to us or anything like that. It took the players talking to each other and trusting each other.

“We know we’re a better team and we knew what we were doing wrong. It’s irritating not correcting those things at the time, but when we went into halftime everything slowed down. We wouldn’t get this opportunity back, and I think everyone realized that.”

Fast break

What went right: In a dominant second half, CU held Cal to a .250 shooting percentage after halftime. The Buffs also outrebounded Cal 28-12 in the second half.

What went wrong: Cal shot .517 in the first half and finished with a 10-for-25 mark on 3-pointers.

Star of the game: Jabari Walker. The sophomore forward continued his double-double roll, posting his fourth in a row and his Pac-12-leading 14th of the season. Walker went 6-for-6 at the free throw line, finishing with 19 points and a career-high-tying 15 rebounds.

What’s next: The Buffs will seek a three-game road sweep when they visit Stanford on Saturday (8 p.m. MT, ESPNU).

Colorado 70, California 62

COLORADO (17-9, 9-7 Pac-12)

Battey 6-10 4-4 18, Walker 6-14 6-6 19, da Silva 1-4 2-2 4, Barthelemy 3-7 1-2 8, Clifford 1-5 0-0 2, Simpson 5-9 8-10 19, O’Brien 0-1 0-0 0, Hammond 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 22-51 21-24 70 .

CALIFORNIA (11-16, 4-12 Pac-12)

Anticevich 5-13 0-0 11, Thiemann 1-5 1-2 3, Brown 2-5 0-1 4, Celestine 4-10 1-1 11, Shepherd 2-8 1-2 7, Kuany 3-6 3-3 10, Alajiki 2-4 0-0 6, Anyanwu 0-0 0-0 0, Hyder 2-3 0-0 5, Roberson 0-0 0-0 0, Foreman 2-7 0-0 5. Totals 23-61 6-9 62.

Halftime – California 35-28. 3-point field goals – Colorado 5-12 (Battey 2-2, Barthelemy 1-1, Simpson 1-2, Walker 1-4, Clifford 0-1, da Silva 0-2), California 10-25 (Alajiki 2-3, Shepherd 2-3, Celestine 2-6, Hyder 1-1, Kuany 1-2, Foreman 1-3, Anticevich 1-6, Brown 0-1). Rebounds – Colorado 43 (Walker 15), California 28 (Kuany 6). Assists – Colorado 9 (Battey, Barthelemy 3), California 12 (Brown, Shepherd 3). Total Fouls – Colorado 10, California 18. A – 4,396.

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