Just four days after losing their star player Spencer Dinwiddie to injury, Colorado couldn't quite adjust to his absence on the court against No. 25 UCLA. After trying to rally early in the second half, they fell 69-56 for their first home loss of the season.
Despite the final score, head coach Tad Boyle didn't ride the game off as a total loss.
"That was a winnable basketball game," Boyle said. "We're extremely disappointed in the way we played, but I was proud of our team for the fight that they showed. If we learn anything from tonight, this team's going to be okay. It's just we weren't good enough tonight."
Without Dinwiddie, the Buffs struggled to produce on offense.
"He's one of our best scorers," Booker said about Dinwiddie. "It's rough playing without him, but at the same time, we don't have him anymore. There's no more excuses, we're done with the sorrow. We just got to keep fighting."
With Dinwiddie out of the picture, two Buffs exemplified that fight on Thursday night to try to compensate for the team's huge loss. Junior guard Askia Booker led the team with 21 points and four rebounds. He was closely followed by sophomore powerhouse Josh Scott, who narrowly missed his ninth double-double with 19 points and nine rebounds.
For the night, Colorado shot 20-of-50 from the field (40.0%), 5-of-17 from beyond the arc (29.4%), and struggled from the charity stripe after shooting 11-19 (57.9%). Most of their missed free throws came near the end of the game.
Despite the outcome of the game, the Bruins actually shot worse than the Buffaloes from nearly every aspect. They went 26-of-66 from the field (39.4%), 6-of-25 from the three (24.0%) and shot 11-of-18 from the foul line (61.1%).
After the game, Booker attributed the loss to the lack of players stepping up to fill Dinwiddie's void on the court.
"I have to be aggressive, Josh has to be aggressive from the get-go," Booker said. "Those guys have to step up. Tonight they showed it. If they don't step up, we're kind of out for a third or fourth person."
The biggest difference in the game was how the Bruins responded to turnovers and second chance points. They scored 20 points to Colorado's seven off of turnovers, and outscored the Buffs 20-1 in the second chance category.
Adams was the biggest force for UCLA's offense and defense in the second half. Going into the break, he had only managed to score five points and grab two boards. By the end of the game, that total jumped to an impressive 14 points and 13 rebounds.
"Jordan Adams manhandled us," Boyle said. "He was the difference in the game in the second half, no ifs, ands or buts, no question marks. He manhandled our entire team and there was not one answer we had for him."
At the start of the game, the Buffs stayed tough against the Bruins in their first true test without guard Dinwiddie, who tore his ACL on Sunday in Washington. They played their hearts out during the first twenty minutes and kept the score close for most of the first half.
For the half, the Buffs shot fairly well. They went 12-for-27 from the field (44.4%), 3-for-8 from the three-point range (37.5%), and 2-for-4 from the free throw line. The Bruins outshot them slightly, going 15-for-30 from the field (50.0%), 5-for-13 from the three (38.5%), and 1-for-3 from the foul line.
The beginning of the half was a game of back and forth. The lead changed three times and the score was tied four times, but the Bruins held the momentum the entire time. They went up by as much as seven points three separate times, making the Buffs fight back each time to stay in the game.
Going into the break, the score read 36-29 with the Bruins coming out on top.
Junior guard Askia Booker paced the Buffs throughout the first half by scoring 13 points and adding a rebound and an assist. On the other side of the ball, UCLA's Normal Powell picked up 13 points of his own along with two rebounds.
In the second half, the Buffs never regained the lead. They fought back in the first four minutes to try to overcome the deficit, but they only managed to cut the Bruins' lead to three (40-37).
Despite having the momentum with an 8-4 run to start out the second half, the Buffs couldn't shake the Bruins. After that, UCLA took control again and didn't let the Buffs gain any more momentum for the rest of the game.
By the end of the game, the Bruins had acquired two separate ten-point leads, a 12-point lead, and then finally won by a margin of 13. The Buffs fell 69-56 for their second straight Pac-12 loss and fourth loss overall (14-4).
"I think overall we played hard and did little things it took to stay in the game," Scott said. "We didn't have people stepping up with shots and we turned the ball over too much and we let people get offensive rebounds...No one here wanted to lose or wanted to make excuses, but it just wasn't good enough."
Going into their next game, Boyle wants his team to focus on regaining Spencer's attitude whenever he stepped on the court.
"One thing Spencer did bring to this team is a swagger and a confidence. We need to get that back as a group, not just one individual."
The Buffaloes return to their home court at noon on Saturday to take on the USC Trojans.
"Do not count this team out, guys," Boyle said. "Do not count us out."