On Thursday, Cal men’s basketball got blown out by the Colorado Buffaloes in Boulder by a final score of 89-60. Colorado freshman forward Jabari Walker led the way for the Buffs with 23 points and 11 rebounds while senior guard/forward D’Shawn Schwartz chipped in 18 points. Cal junior forward Andre Kelly was the top performer for the Golden Bears with 16 points and 4 rebounds. Colorado improves to 10-3 overall and 4-2 in the Pac-12 while Cal falls to 6-8 overall and 1-6 in the Pac-12.
“Disappointing performance in the 2nd half today,” Cal head coach Mark Fox said after the game. “I felt like in the first half we played 16 or 17 solid minutes. We talked about finishing the first half the right way and we didn’t. And then the dam broke in the 2nd half. Our defense is nowhere near where it needs to be to win a Pac-12 game on the road.”
Cal got off to a 6-5 lead with 14:35 to go in the first half. Kelly was up to 4 points for the Bears while the Buffs had not scored in 2:50. With 11:41 to go in the half, Colorado would bumper ahead 9-8. A layup from Makale Foreman broke a near 4 minute scoring drought for the Bears. Both teams were struggling to get going on offense. Colorado was 4-10 from the field while Cal was 4-11. Cal would then go on a 10-0 run to lead 18-11 with 9:38 to go in the half. Foreman was on fire with 10 points.
Cal’s fun in the sun didn’t last long as Colorado would respond with an 8-0 run to lead 19-18 with 6:37 to go in the half. Walker was up to 10 points, getting the Buffs back in the game. Cal needed to answer.
Rather than answering, Cal slowly started to collapse like London Bridge. With 3:47 to go in the half, Colorado led 24-20 as they were on a 13-2 run over the last 5:35. Walker was up to 12 points for the Buffs, making an impact on this game.
Colorado would finish out the half to lead 34-23 at halftime. It was a 15-3 run over the last 6:14 and a 23-5 run over the last 9:38. Walker was now up to 17 points on 6-8 shooting from the field, 3-3 shooting from 3-point range, and 2-2 shooting from the foul line. Foreman was still at 10 points for Cal, having not scored since the 9:41 mark.
Cal got off to an ok start in the 2nd half, as Colorado led 40-31 with 17:21 to go. Kelly was doing all he could for Cal with his 12 points on 4-4 shooting from the field and 4-5 field goals, but he needed more help.
“Andre’s continuing to grow as a competitor,” Fox said of Kelly. “He’s got the ability to finish plays. I was hoping we’d get more done in the paint. He continues to be consistently productive and hopefully we can build on it.”
That would be the closest Cal would get as Colorado once again extended their lead 44-31 with 15:34 to go. Walker was up to 19 points, really playing well. Over the next several minutes, Cal’s collapse would become cemented as Colorado led 70-49 with 8:03 to go. Walker was up to 21 points while Schwartz was up to 18 points. As for McKinley Wright IV, he was having a relatively quiet game with 7 points. Kelly was up to 16 points for Cal while Foreman finally was back on the scoreboard with a 3-pointer, giving him 13 points for the afternoon.
“I think that as I told our team, I’m not going to get as upset about their offensive execution because of the circumstances,” Fox said. “Under the circumstances, it’s a challenge offensively. That shouldn’t excuse what we should do defensively. You’ve gotta be able to guard deeper into a possession and take more than one thing away.”
Over the next few minutes, Wright would get going to finish with 13 points, 12 assists, and 1 steal on 4-8 shooting from the field, 1-2 shooting from 3-point range, and 4-5 shooting from the foul line. A very John Stockton-like performance as he became Colorado’s all-time leader in assists. With 3:20 to go, Colorado was up 85-55 having scored 51 points in the 2nd half. Cal’s defense had been putrid.
In the end, Colorado walked out with an 89-60 victory. After a bit of a slow start in the first part of the game, Colorado found their groove and cruised to an easy win, improving to 4-0 at home. As for Cal, this game was flat out embarrassing. Even without Matt Bradley (ankle) and Kuany Kuany (concussion), Cal didn’t have to get boat raced like this. I picked a 72-58 loss for Cal, so to see them lose by 29 points is beyond disappointing.
“I think there’s some times when they had a switch and we didn’t post as aggressively,” Fox lamented. “Your perimeter players have to get the ball inside and I don’t think we did that consistently enough.”
At this point, all Cal can do is put this one behind them and look ahead to Saturday’s game at Utah. That game will tipoff at 7:00 PM PST on ESPNU.
Note: Mark Fox provided an update on Bradley and Kuany after the game:
“Kuany, he’s been in concussion protocol and there’s benchmarks he has to meet before he’s cleared. Everyone heals at different rates. Matt Bradley, he has a ways to go. It was an awful sprain, so unfortunately he’s not as close to returning as we’d like him to be. He’s all all-league player. We miss him everywhere. But we have to regroup. He’s essentially missed a third of the season. One day he’ll be healthy again, but right now he’s not and until he is we have to step up.”
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