This post was updated Jan. 13 at 10:35 p.m.
UCLA’s performance Saturday night might have been “as cold as the Rockies,” but it sure wasn’t refreshing.
“When we took the floor I thought we were flat,” said coach Steve Alford. “I think that was as poor as we’ve played all year.”
UCLA struggled to hit jump shots throughout the game and finished with a 37.1 shooting percentage. The Bruins bricked shot after shot from long distance as the Colorado Buffaloes never trailed after the first minute.
Senior center Thomas Welsh led UCLA’s comeback from a double-digit deficit in the second half, scoring 14 of his 20 points following halftime, but his teammates combined to shoot 26.9 percent from the field as the Bruins (13-5, 4-2 Pac-12) fell 68-59 to the Buffaloes (11-7, 3-3) on Saturday night.
“It’s always tough when you get down early,” said junior guard Aaron Holiday. “We didn’t really take bad shots in the first half. We just missed.”
UCLA drained its first four 3-pointers in Thursday’s contest against Utah, but the Bruins took more than 17 minutes to make their first triple Saturday and didn’t reach four made 3s until 6 minutes and 47 seconds remained in the second half.
Alford’s squad finished the game 5-of-25 from behind the arc and 8-of-18 from the free throw line. Freshman guards Jaylen Hands and Kris Wilkes both only made one of six attempted 3-pointers.
“We got fouled, we missed free throws, we got a layup and missed the layup, we got wide open 3s, missed the 3s,” Alford said. “There just wasn’t much of anything that really worked for us offensively.”
An all-Welsh 10-0 run capped by back-to-back 3-pointers cut Colorado’s lead to 4 points midway through the second half.
“We had spurts like that, where we were getting stops and cutting their lead down a little bit,” Welsh said. “But we didn’t sustain our momentum.”
After that run, Buffalo guard George King scored 7 consecutive points, and the Bruins never got closer than 7 points the rest of the game. King led the visitors with 26 points on 7-of-12 shooting, including 6-of-10 on 3s. None of his teammates scored in double figures.
As cold as UCLA was from beyond the arc, Colorado was on the opposite side of the spectrum in the first half. The Buffaloes made eight of their 14 3-point attempts in the opening period – freshman guard McKinley Wright IV assisted on five of them.
The Bruins were also unable to rev up their transition attack, only registering six fast break points the entire game. Alford’s six-guard rotation combined to shoot 11-of-45 from the floor, and as a team, UCLA had 13 assists and 10 turnovers.
Holiday, who played at least 40 minutes for the fifth time this season, recorded a time-high six turnovers.
“I tried to get my teammates involved, but obviously I have to do more for us to win,” Holiday said. “I didn’t play to my potential tonight so we lost, and that’s my fault.”