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Colorado Blitzes Bears in Second Half, 70-62

February 17, 2022
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Cal hosted Colorado on Saturday afternoon, shot better than 50 percent, outrebounded the visitors and took a comfortable lead.

Then they played the second half.

Colorado, which in the first half looked like a team enduring its second game in three days, came out with vigor after the intermission. The Buffaloes scored the first eight points of the second half to take the lead and kept it up until they were up by 15 and cruised from there to a 70-62 victory.  

The Bears, full of themselves after last weekend’s spirited sweep in Oregon, fell to 11-16, 4-12 in conference play. The Buffaloes (17-9, 9-7) kept alive their hopes for an NCAA Tournament bid.

“It was a tale of two halves,” Cal head coach Mark Fox said afterward. “We were pleased with our play on both ends in the first half and really disappointed in how we started the second half. Obviously we got pounded on the backboards (29-11) in the second half. 

“And tonight was the first night were we really missed Andre (Kelly). We got stuck in there in a drought and would have been nice to have his big body to throw it to and get us a basket or draw a foul.

“I thought Colorado took advantage of our defensive play in the second half. Give them credit.”

Cal trailed 14-13 with 12 minutes left in the first half when freshman Sam Alajiki hit a three-pointer that launched a 20-8 run. Cal’s defense was forcing the Buffaloes to take uncomfortable shots while the Bears offense went pretty much the way Fox drew it up. They scored from inside, they scored from the outside, and the Buffaloes looked helpless.

Things actually started to turn a little bit in the closing minutes of the first half, as the Buffaloes knocked four points off the lead before intermission.

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Then came the deluge. While Colorado was racking up the points, Cal went the first 5:20 of the second half without a field goal. By the time Makale Foreman hit a three, the Buffs had outscored the hosts 14-1 and were in control.

“It is as disappointed as I’ve been in our players, our coaches and myself all season,” Fox said. “We’ll have to look at the film and see the exact mistakes we made. We had a lead. We handled it very immaturely. We had some success last weekend and I thought we opened the game and played pretty well. But as soon as adversity hit, we didn’t respond the right way. Very disappointed in all of us tonight.”

Colorado forward Jabari Walker, who has held to six points in the first half, had 13 after intermission to finish with 19. He also had 15 rebounds for his 14th double-double of the year. 

Guard KJ Simpson, who repeatedly ran away from seemingly immobile Cal defenders, also finished with 19 points. Senior Evan Battey scored 18.

For the Bears, Grant Anticevich and Jaden Celestine each had 11 points. Jordan Shepherd, who had such a dynamite weekend in Oregon, was held to seven points. The Buffs paid particular attention to him and limited him to just seven shots.

 Anticevich’s night was the Bears’ in microcosm. He had eighth points in the first half, three in the second.

“I think we didn’t come out with the right mindset in the second half. I didn’t come out with the same intensity in the second half,” Anticevich said. “We didn’t ramp it up the way we should and it cost us.”

Colorado’s defense did seem to get more aggressive in the second half, but Fox said there were ways the Bears could have responded and did not.

“They were switching fives onto our guards and we didn’t take advantage of that and go by them,” he said. “And we didn’t take advantage of our bigger players posting a little guy. 

“On the defensive end they just drove at us and drove at us and we fouled them. We made more baskets than they made (23-22) if you can believe that. And we made more threes than they made (10-5) but they got to that foul line a ton (24 vs. 9) and that has been an issue with our team.”

Notes

  • Cal hosts Utah on Saturday afternoon at 3:30.
  • Walker made all six of his free throws and has hit 27 in a row.
  • Kuany Kuany had a season-high ten points for the Bears.
  • Kuany had six blocked shots which is a career-high and one short of the school record.

Other stories: Colorado Preview: Buffs Have Won 3 Straight

Bears Pull Off Surprising Oregon Road Sweep With Dominating 78-64 Win Over Ducks

 

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Colorado Blitzes Bears in Second Half, 70-62

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