Booker leads Colorado past UCLA 62-56
BOULDER, Colo. (AP) Askia Booker inspired his teammates with his words in a pre-game huddle, and then he helped make the difference with his play on the floor.
Booker scored 20 points, including a pair of free throws in the final seconds, and the Colorado Buffaloes hung on to beat UCLA 62-56 on Friday night.
It was their first win over the Bruins in nearly 53 years, and they did it without star forward Josh Scott, who was ruled out of the game earlier in the day because of back spasms.
”Right before we came on the court, I grabbed the guys in and I told them everybody in the gym doesn’t think we can win without Josh,” Booker said. ”Everybody in here. But I told them we were guaranteed to win if we played hard enough and we played together, and the outcome is we won. We didn’t play too smart and I include myself in that, but we played hard and we played together.”
Xavier Johnson added 14 points and Wesley Gordon had 11 points and 14 rebounds for Colorado (8-5, 1-0 Pac-12), which overcame 18 turnovers, including a season-high 11 in the first half.
”We gained a lot of confidence from this and didn’t play our best but won,” Colorado coach Tad Boyle said. ”You turn the ball over 18 times, shoot 37.5 percent from the field and won by six, you’re pretty fortunate. Obviously, with Josh not playing, Wesley stepped up, Tory Miller had some great minutes, Dustin Thomas stepped into that starting role and it was just a great team victory.”
The victory was Colorado’s first in five tries against UCLA since joining the Pac-12 four years ago. It was Colorado’s second victory in 10 meetings all time against UCLA. The Buffaloes only previous victory over UCLA came on Dec. 7, 1962 (82-60).
”We just wanted it,” Johnson said. ”Everybody stepped up big for us and that’s how we were able to come away with the victory.”
Norman Powell had 22 points to lead UCLA (8-6, 0-1), which lost its fourth in a row. Isaac Hamilton added 16 points but the Bruins struggled from the field even more than the Buffaloes, who outshot UCLA 37.5 percent to 31.4 percent.
”They’re coming off two losses, we’re coming off three, so that’s never easy, when guys are just trying to get that confidence back,” UCLA coach Steve Alford said. ”I thought we did some good things. There were a couple of loose rebounds there late that they got and that really hurt us. We had a really, really tough shooting night.”
Powell’s third 3-pointer of the game gave UCLA a 43-37 lead with 11:58 left to play. The Buffaloes responded with an 11-0 run.
Johnson scored seven of his points during the surge, including a rim-rattling dunk off a feed from Dominique Collier.
Powell’s layup pulled UCLA to 53-51 with 4:06 remaining but the Buffaloes scored the next five points, capped by a dunk by Jaron Hopkins.
Powell sank a last-gasp 3-pointer to get UCLA within four points with 37 seconds left. The Bruins couldn’t capitalize on Buffaloes turnover and then fouled Booker, who sank both free throws with 19.3 seconds in what proved to be the final points in the game.
Tory Miller converted a three-point play in the final minute of the opening period, and Colorado took a 28-27 halftime lead.
The Buffaloes led by as many as six points in the closing minutes of the first half but Powell cut the deficit by connecting on a pair of 3-pointers.
UCLA: Norman Powell’s 22 points boosted his career total to 1,003. He’s the 51st player in UCLA’s history to reach or surpass 1,000 points in his career. … Bryce Alford was held to 8 points, snapping a 13-game streak in which he had scored in double figures. Alford went 0-9 from 3-point range.
Colorado: Josh Scott missed a start due to injury for the first time since Feb. 27, 2013. … The win was coach Tad Boyle’s 100th at Colorado.
”This was one game he didn’t shoot it well. He has a lot of pressure on him, a lot on his shoulders. I understand that and appreciate that. He gave a great effort. It was just a night where he couldn’t make a shot. You’re going to have nights like that. Hopefully, he doesn’t have too many of them.” – Coach Steve Alford on his son’s tough outing.
UCLA plays at Utah on Sunday
Colorado hosts Southern Cal on Sunday