BOULDER, Colo. — Travis Wear was the leader of the pack and it wasn’t even close.
“He led the sprints,” freshman forward Kyle Anderson said of his redshirt junior teammate’s offseason workouts.
According to his teammates, Wear, a forward, is the most well-conditioned athlete on UCLA’s roster. The payoff came Saturday in a 78-75 win over Colorado at Coors Event Center, good for UCLA’s ninth consecutive victory.
Wear led the Bruins with a season-high 23 points.
“He was the best player on the floor,” said Colorado sophomore guard Spencer Dinwiddie.
For UCLA’s four freshmen, this weekend saw their first conference road trip. On a team with only eight scholarship players – five of whom are from California – 5,345 feet above sea level left them gasping for air.
Anderson said Wear knows “some tricks of the trade” as an upperclassman, but Wear admittedly felt the thin air getting to him at the outset of the game. Not one of the 9,696 fans in attendance could tell, as he led his team down the stretch with 15 second-half points.
“When we’re tired, we just feed our horse,” freshman Jordan Adams said. “He’s out there running and battling. He’s energetic.”
As the game wound down, Wear only got stronger. He scored nine straight points during one stretch in the second half.
“It’s not just sprinting up and down, it’s banging,” Wear added. “It’s running through screens. Everything is 100 percent. People don’t realize how hard it is to make shots when you feel like you can’t move.”
Wear told himself it was time to “turn it on” prior to the Bruins’ win over the then-No. 7 Missouri Tigers in December. He hasn’t turned it off since. He has scored in double figures in each of UCLA’s last five games since scoring 10 points or fewer in the previous five games.
Some fans have vocalized support for coach Ben Howland to give more of the Wear twins’ minutes to seldom-used freshman Tony Parker.
Wear isn’t conscious of the chatter.
“I don’t pay attention to it,” he said. “There are always going to be people talking. Everyone has their own opinion. I just keep my head down.”
UCLA (13-3, 4-0 Pac-12) became the first team in conference history to sweep the “mountain schools” road trip while Colorado fell to 11-5 overall, 1-3 in conference play. The Bruins will host the Oregon State Beavers and Oregon Ducks next week at Pauley Pavilion.