Justin Bibbins scored 24 points and hit six 3-pointers to help Utah survive a sluggish second half and beat Colorado 64-54 on Saturday at Jon M. Huntsman Center in Salt Lake City.
Sedrick Barefield chipped in 14 points in his return after a two-game absence, and Donnie Tillman added 10 for the Utes. Utah (19-10, 11-7 Pac-12) clinched the No. 3 seed in the Pac-12 tournament.
McKinley Wright IV scored 16 points and Lucas Siewert added 11 to lead Colorado. The Buffaloes (16-14, 8-10) lost for fourth time in five games and secured the No. 8 seed in the Pac-12 tourney.
Colorado trailed by as many as 18 points before halftime, but cut Utah’s lead to 57-52 on Wright’s layup with 1:23 left. The Buffaloes could get no closer. Bibbins hit his final 3-pointer on the next possession and then Barefield made four free throws in the final minute to seal the win.
Utah’s David Collette went to the locker room with 13:12 left in the first half. Collette rolled his ankle on a play and could not put any weight on his right leg.
Without their senior forward on the floor, the Utes didn’t panic. Utah clamped down on defense and blew the game open before halftime.
Colorado endured a 5 1/2 minute stretch where it did not score and committed six turnovers. That opened the door for the Utes to take their first big lead. Bibbins and Barefield sparked an 11-1 run with a go-ahead 3-pointer and a layup on back-to-back possessions to put Utah up 25-16.
The Buffaloes cut the deficit in half behind back-to-back baskets from Wright and George King. Then Colorado’s offense disappeared once again. The Buffaloes missed 10 straight field goal attempts at one point and shot just 3-of-19 from the field over the final 11:05 of the first half.
Utah seized control behind a 14-0 run. The Utes scored on four straight possessions — starting and finishing with layups from Tillman — to finish off the run and take a 39-21 lead with 1:15 left before halftime.
Colorado climbed back into the game when Utah opened the second half by missing 10 of its first 11 shots. Back-to-back baskets from Siewert and D’Shawn Schwartz highlighted a 12-0 run that trimmed Utah’s lead to 46-42. The Utes did not score for 7 1/2 minutes until Bibbins finally broke the ice with a layup.
—Field Level Media