Colorado men’s basketball suffered its first home loss of the season and second consecutive conference loss Thursday night, falling to the UCLA Bruins 69-56.
Head coach Tad Boyle said the absence of team leaders Spencer Dinwiddie and Tre’Shaun Fletcher was not to blame.
“We didn’t lose this game tonight because Spencer Dinwiddie and Tre’Shaun Fletcher didn’t play,” Boyle said post-game. “We had a shot. We just didn’t do what we had to do.”
What the Buffs had to do was rebound. Throughout the season Boyle has said defensive rebounding is a primary focus for the team, but even Colorado’s most prominent players under the hoop only recorded single-digit rebounds against the Bruins. Sophomore forwards Josh Scott and Xavier Johnson accounted for 17 combined, but that number was offset by a matched amount of offensive turnovers.
“It’s gonna be a work in progress,” Boyle said. “We didn’t convert and finish plays.”
Freshman guard Jaron Hopkins took on Spencer Dinwiddie’s usual starting role. Although shooting was an issue, Hopkins managed two assists and two steals in his 25 minutes on the court for the Buffs.
The backbone of Colorado’s offensive effort Thursday night was junior guard Askia Booker, who contributed 21 points against the Bruins. Booker averages 13.1 points per game this season.
With Dinwiddie as his usual partner in crime, Booker not only stepped up as the top Colorado scorer, but also found new rhythm with sophomore forward Josh Scott.
“It’s rough, [Dinwiddie’s] the third amigo,” Booker said. “We don’t have him anymore, so there’s no more excuses…Josh and I have to step up.”
Scott finished the game with 19 points, recording his 16th double figure-scoring game of the season.
Notable effort from the bench kept the Buffs within striking distance throughout first half, during which Colorado’s largest deficit was 7. But UCLA’s Jordan Adams made sure the deficit grew when the teams stepped back on the court after halftime.
“Jordan Adams manhandled us,” Boyle said. “He was the difference in the second half.”
Although Adams’ game was technically less-than-average, seeing as he contributes a mean of 18.1 points per game and only managed 14 against the Buffaloes, his 13 rebounds allowed the Bruins to successfully return every shot that Colorado made.
Despite a 7-0 run led by Booker and Scott with just over three minutes left to play, the Buffaloes could not overcome the Bruins. Colorado is now 14-4 for the season and 3-2 in the Pac-12. Little hope remained in the final minutes, as the Buffs’ energy died along with that of the usually-rowdy Coors Events Center crowd.
“It’s been an emotional week, [but] I’m encouraged about the future and the players we have,” Boyle said. “One thing Spencer Dinwiddie did bring to this team was a swagger and a confidence. We need to get that back.”
Another home game for Colorado is set to tip off at noon on Saturday against the University of Southern California. The matchup will be broadcast on Fox Sports 1 and 850 KOA.
Contact CU Independent Assistant Sports Editor Jordyn Siemens at firstname.lastname@example.org.