The Colorado Buffaloes basketball squad was victorious on Senior Day this Saturday, as they defeated the California Golden Bears, 54-46, at the Coors Events Center.
Four Colorado seniors were honored before tipoff: Xavier Johnson, Derrick White, Josh Fortune and Wesley Gordon. For two of those seniors, it would have a day to remember in their last game at the Keg. Guards Johnson and White combined for 36 points, 19 from Johnson and 17 from White. White went 5-of-11 from the field while Johnson shot 5-of-13.
But the affair wasn’t all glorious after the pomp and circumstance.
The Golden Bears dominated the glass in the first half, out rebounding Colorado 28-19. California had as many offensive rebounds as Colorado had total boards.
The Bears led at halftime, 25-22, thanks to sophomore NBA prospect Ivan Rabb. Rabb had seven points and nine rebounds in the first half alone and would go on to claim 11 points and 13 rebounds for the game.
The low score in the first half was due to poor shooting from both teams: the Bears and the Buffs both shot 30 percent or worse from the field in the first half.
In the second half, Colorado regained control on the boards. They out-rebounded California, 20-12, thanks to a big second half improvement on the glass from junior guard George King. King claimed only one rebound in the first half and finished with nine rebounds for the game
“It was just more effort and not allowing Cal boxing me out to affect me,” King said. “Just going to do what I do. Being athletic and trying to get rebounds.”
White and Johnson both had scoring bursts in the second half. Johnson scored 13 on 3-of-5 shooting and White scored 11, also on 3-of-5 shooting. This helped Colorado seal the deal on an important win on Senior Day.
“It was cool,” White said. “The most important thing was to get the win. You never want to lose on Senior Night and have that bad taste in your mouth for the rest of your career. So it was cool to get the win, most importantly.”
Head coach Tad Boyle touched on the importance of Derrick White this season, saying he played a key role for the Buffaloes after the game.
“We would not be as good as we are,” Boyle said. “He is a really special player. We knew how good he was and it took a while to get him ramped up and adjusted, but he’s playing with great confidence now. He is a special player and on that I’d like to keep coaching.”
Colorado’s next opponent is yet to be determined in the first round of the Pac-12 Tournament in Las Vegas. If Arizona State loses to Arizona Saturday, the Buffs clinch the 7-seed in the tourney. CU will play one of three teams in the first round: Washington State, Stanford or Arizona State.
If Colorado attains the 7-seed, it will play Wednesday at 7 p.m. (MST) or at 1 p.m. (MST) the same day if they are the 8-seed.
Contact CU Independent Sports Writer Drew Sharek at firstname.lastname@example.org