Colorado heated up in the second half Wednesday night, sinking 54.5 percent of its field-goal attempts over the final 20 minutes as it eked out a ragged 68-64 Pac-12 Conference win over California at Coors Events Center in Boulder, Colo.
McKinley Wright led the balanced Buffs (14-10, 6-6) with a game-high 17 points, adding six rebounds and five assists. Six other players chipped in between six and eight points as Colorado overcame 19 turnovers and a mediocre effort at the foul line, where it went 19-of-29 (65.5 percent).
Kingsley Okoroh and Darius McNeill paced the Golden Bears (8-17, 2-10) with 12 points apiece, while Marcus Lee added 10 points and 12 rebounds. California made just 36.7 percent of its field-goal tries, but was able to stay in contention by scoring 18 points off 18 offensive rebounds.
The Buffs took the lead for good in the first three minutes of the second half on a 3-pointer by George King, but never pushed the margin past seven points. The Golden Bears drew within 52-51 at the 4:41 mark when Okoroh canned a jumper.
However, Colorado was able to keep the visitors at arm’s length for the remainder of the game, finally sealing the outcome on Lazar Nikolic’s layup with 5.8 seconds remaining.
Cal freshman Justice Sueing missed his first 14 shots before nailing a 3-pointer in the final minute. He finished with six points, less than half his average of 14.1 entering the game.
The game’s tone was set during a first half slog in which the teams offered an unappetizing mix of missed shots and turnovers. Colorado managed to score only 11 points before the under-8 TV timeout, yet trailed by just six.
Eventually, the Buffs worked their way back from a 21-14 deficit following a McNeill layup with 5:57 remaining in the half. Colorado used a 10-2 run to grab a 24-23 lead after a 3-point play by Deleon Brown with 2:47 left, but the Golden Bears got the game even at 28 at intermission.
The teams combined for just 18 first half field goals, shooting a combined 36.7 percent from the field.
--Field Level Media