Coming off what he termed a “disheartening” loss at UCLA last week, Colorado coach Tad Boyle said before his team played at USC on Saturday that the tougher team would win.
“We just have to be that team,” he said.
The No. 24 Buffaloes (17-5, 6-3 Pac-12) exhibited that toughness in a 78-57 win against the Trojans and will attempt to maintain that mentality when they host California (10-11, 4-4) on Thursday night.
Colorado held USC to 37.9-percent shooting and limited the Trojans to just 10 second-chance points and six fast-break points, a stark contrast to the combined 40 they surrendered to the Bruins in those two categories. The Buffaloes also shot 51.9 percent overall and 47.4 percent (9 of 19) from 3-point range against the Trojans.
“Again, this team responds,” said Boyle, whose Buffs have lost two straight games only once this season. “This team has heart, determination. We just need to find more consistency. When we play with this kind of energy, enthusiasm, attentiveness and toughness, good things can happen.”
The Golden Bears, who last week took Oregon to the limit before losing 77-72 and defeated Oregon State, are only one game behind in the loss column in the logjam at the top of the Pac-12 standings.
Five teams, including Colorado, have three losses.
California won only five Pac-12 games in the previous two seasons combined
“I don’t know, I’m trying to worry about how to get 5-4,” said first-year coach Mark Fox, formerly at Nevada and Georgia. “We played three good teams (including Stanford at home Jan. 26) in seven days and they were hard-fought games.
“It took a lot of energy, emotionally, mentally and physically. To come out of the week with a couple victories for this group is progress. But we’re just going to try to win this next one and see how many we can tally up.”
Matt Bradley led the Bears against Oregon State with 23 points on 7-of-11 shooting. It was the 15th time this season he has led the team in scoring (including six of the last seven games). It was also his eighth 20-point performance of the year.
Bradley went 2-for-5 from 3-point range and has made at least one 3-pointer in every Pac-12 game this year, including multiple threes each of his past seven games.
Andre Kelly finished with his most points (14) and rebounds (six) in a Pac-12 game this season. The point total marked his highest output since a career-high 26-point effort against Saint Mary’s on Dec. 14.
Colorado’s McKinley Wright IV had a line of 12 points, eight assists, six rebounds, four steals and 6-of-6 shooting from the free throw line against USC. He became the 23rd player in team history to reach 1,200 points, finishing the game at 1,204.
Wright’s four steals were a career high. He has six games with eight or more assists this year, all coming in the last 10 games (7.1 assists per game average during that span).
California is in search of its first road win (0-5 record) while Colorado is 10-2 at the CU Events Center.
–Field Level Media