Colorado sweeps UCLA behind Collier’s 19 points

Colorado guard Dominique Collier, left, reaches for the ball after his shot was blocked by UCLA guard Chris Smith in the second half of an NCAA college basketball game Sunday, Feb. 25, 2018, in Boulder, Colo. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

BOULDER, Colo. (AP) Dominique Collier never quite lived up to the hype at the University of Colorado – until Sunday in his final game at the Coors Events Center.

Big things were expected of the talented guard after he scored 18 points in leading Denver East High School to the state championship at this very arena in 2014. But he had never even matched that output in four seasons on the familiar hardwood.

”We’ve had a lot of good, big wins in this building,” Collier said after celebrating Senior Day with a season-high 19 points, leading Colorado past UCLA 80-76 for its first-ever season sweep of the Bruins.

Collier didn’t have many memorable moments in college but he never hung his head and the big-time recruit finally delivered in a big way in his good-bye.

”As a coach you want it so bad for him because he’s such a good teammate, he’s such a good player,” Buffs leader Tad Boyle said. ”He’s given his heart and soul to this program. So, when a guy does that and you’ve seen him struggle and then you see him break out like he did today, it’s a heartwarming feeling.”

Boyle said he admired Collier’s tenacity.

”He’s reacted like a true pro. He’s handled it well,” Boyle said. ”He’s nominated for sixth man of the year in our league. He’s been coming off the bench. He’s embraced that role. He’s done that role for the most part very admirably this year. So, he’s had a good year. He’s had some ups and downs like we all have. But (he’s) a special kid.”

Behind Collier’s 14 first-half points, Colorado (16-13, 8-9 Pac-12) took a nine-point lead into the locker room at halftime but came out cold in the second half. The Buffs missed 14 of 18 shots and watched the Bruins (19-10, 10-7) roar back behind Aaron Holiday (21 points) and Kris Wilkes, who finished with 20 points.

UCLA went ahead 56-54 on Alex Olesinski’s basket with 8:41 remaining, but the Bruins had to send its subs and they wouldn’t score again until Wilkes’ jam with just under four minutes left after the Buffaloes had surged to a 71-57 lead.

”We did a lot of good things in the second half,” Bruins coach Steve Alford said, ”but when you’re down 12 and battle back, it takes a lot out of you. I thought that’s what happened.”

George King added 16 points for Colorado and Lucas Siewert had 15.

SENIOR SEND-OFF

”I’d just like to stay today’s a special day not only because we beat UCLA but because we had four very special seniors that we wanted to send out on the right note and we did that,” Boyle said. ”Our players played with great passion and pride and toughness and energy and I know they did it for those four guys.”

In addition to Collier, the seniors were George King, who scored 16, Tory Miller-Stewart, who broke a foot earlier this season, and Josh Repine, who received a big ovation when he entered the game with 3.4 seconds left and ended up with the ball in his hands at the buzzer.

BIG PICTURE

UCLA: The Bruins failed to join USC and Arizona in the 20-win club and were swept by Colorado for the first time since the Buffaloes joined the Pac-12 in 2011. After winning six of their previous seven, the Bruins went 0-2 on their Utah-Colorado swing.

”We lost two games we should have won,” Holiday said. ”We put ourselves in a tough position toward the end, we still had chances to win the game and that’s always hard. It’s over with now we have to move on and focus on SC.”

Colorado: The Buffaloes’ only conference win on the road came against UCLA at Pauley Pavilion on Jan. 13, when they won 68-59. They’re now 4-11 against the Bruins, but 3-3 at home.

”We’ve taken our lumps. We’ve been up, we’ve been down. We’ve played well, we’ve played poorly,” Boyle said. ”But when your team is connected and believes in each other, it’s pretty cool. … and if we can play connected and play for each other like we did today, good things can happen for us down the stretch.”

UP NEXT

UCLA: The Bruins visit archrival USC next Saturday night. UCLA edged the Trojans 82-79 in a thriller on Feb. 2.

Colorado: The Buffs wrap up the regular season at Utah on Saturday. Colorado beat the Utes 67-55 in Boulder.

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