Freshman Hall Lifts Buffs Over Cal

Freshman <b>Marcus Hall</b> shot 8-for-12 off the bench and scored a game-high 22 points in what was by far his most impressive outing as a Buff as the University of Colorado men's basketball team defeated Cal 78-60 Saturday night at the Coors Events Conference Center.

Seven-foot junior center David Harrison added 18 in the win, despite being the focal point of the California defensive approach entering the contest. Michel Morandais rounded out CU's individual double-digit efforts on the night, scoring 10 before the night was over; six of which came in the form of a pair of threes which assisted in the Buffs' 43-point second half effort.

The cumulative result for the Buffs was the second highest team offensive output of the young season, second only the CU's most recent 81-66 decision over Oregon State in Boulder on Monday.

"None of our guys were concerned with who was scoring, and it's good to see that," Colorado head coach Ricardo Patton said after the game. "I just thought that we were a team tonight."

Hall's contributions for the Buffaloes were felt early, as the rookie out of Jersey Village High School in Houston tallied eight of his 22 in the game's opening seven minutes during a run which was instrumental in establishing Colorado's early momentum.

"Teams are going to make the decision to not to let David (Harrison) post one-on-one, and when that happens guys have to step up," Patton said of his recruit. "Marcus did that for us tonight."

To questions of whether the freshman's eye-opening offensive showcase was enough to broach his coach's starting lineup anytime soon, Patton smiled and said simply: "We're going to keep him humble for a while. We're not going to rush him."

Whatever approach Patton has taken with his team seems to have worked as well thus far this season as it has in recent campaigns. In coach Patton's eight full with the reigns for Colorado, the Buffs have started 4-1 a total of four times (1997, 1998, 1999, and now 2003). The Buffs last pierced the four win plateau after five games with an 80-62 victory over Cal in 1999.

Cal fought off an early 5-2 deficit to rally for what turned out to be its only lead of the game, as a Amit Tamir jump shot gave the Golden Bears a short-lived 9-7 lead with just less than five minutes gone in the first.

Colorado regrouped; using an 11-2 run featuring eight points on three consecutive CU possessions off the bench from freshman guard Marcus Hall, to take an 18-11 lead at the 12:27 mark.

The Bears pulled to within five following Amit Tamir's first three of the game from the top of the key, only to once again sacrifice momentum to a feverish CU team. The Buffs used a three point shot from Morandais coming out of a media timeout to extend its lead to ten; 25-15 with 9:35 to play.

CU's run continued as the Buffaloes were able to expand their lead to 12 before a Leon Powe free throw was followed by a trio of effective possessions for the Golden Bears. These were highlighted by a layup from sophomore guard Richard Midgley, which cut the Buff lead to seven as the game's first period passed its halfway point.

Cal experienced its most effective run of the first half near its conclusion, with Powe accounting for five of the Bears' final eight points and holding the Buffaloes scoreless over a four-minute span, ending with a Marcus Hall free throw at 2:02. This cut the deficit of more than fifteen minutes to within two as David Parris laid in an offensive board to cut the CU lead to 29-27 with just less than two and a half remaining.

The Buffs would respond one more time before the intermission, fueled once again by Hall, who scored seven of his game high 14 first half points in his team's last four chances down the floor to complete a 6-0 CU run; bringing the margin at the break back to a more comfortable 35-28 spread.

If Cal had gained any confidence during halftime the Buffs weren't about to let anyone know about it. Colorado scored on four of the second half's five initial chances for either team, increasing the CU lead to 43-30 on the heels of three pointers from Morandais and Blair Wilson just minutes into the second.

The Buffaloes began to pull away over the next five minutes as Cal found penetrating the CU defense for points harder than ever while the Colorado offensive attack flourished. The Buffaloes effectively stomped out any hope Cal had reserved for a second half comeback over the next five minutes, using a key 9-2 run midway through the second to take a staggering 65-42 advantage with 9:09 left. This, thanks in large part to the continued shooting excellence of Hall, proving his first half success to be anything but a fluke in the process.

The Buffs held a consistent double-digit edge for the remainder of the contest.

"They weren't really guarding the 1 and 4 positions tonight," Harrison said referring the extra attention he was paid from Cal head coach Ben Braun in his game plan against a CU team which had averaged 74.5 points per game before Saturday. "We must have scored 30 points from those positions alone. If they're going to double me like that guys have to step up."

The 6-7 Harris seemed to agree with his teammate's assessment.

"They overplayed Blair (Wilson), David (Harrison), and Michel (Morandais), so somebody had to step up," M.H. said in his first ever postgame press conference. "The first three or four shots I took were right in front of me. That's pretty poor defense, and you've got to take advantage of poor defense."

After opening the season with a three game road trip, the Buffs will not leave the state of Colorado for the next five weeks, during which time CU will host Tennessee State, Utah, and Richmond, before beginning Big 12 play against Kansas on Jan. 5. Two additional out of conference matchups against Northern Colorado and Savannah State round out the Buffs longest homestand in two seasons before Colorado begins Big 12 road play against Nebraska in Lincoln on Jan. 14.

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