The Bruins couldn’t hold on to any momentum.
UCLA men’s basketball (12-11, 5-5 Pac-12) kept within striking distance of Colorado (13-9, 4-6) for nearly all 40 minutes Wednesday night, but ultimately lost 84-73 at Pauley Pavilion. The Bruins have now lost their last three meetings with the Buffaloes dating back to last season.
Colorado, who entered the evening with the worst 3-point percentage in the Pac-12 at 32 percent, came out of the gates red hot from beyond the arc. The Buffaloes knocked down four of their first five attempts from deep and built up a 20-8 lead in just over six minutes.
Despite Colorado’s strong start, UCLA coach Murry Bartow decided to stick with the zone for the remainder of the night. The Buffaloes, however, continued to take advantage of the zone, finishing the night 13-of-24 from long range.
Following the game, Bartow said he considered switching his defensive strategy, but defended his decision to remain in the zone. He also said he felt he was putting his players in the best position to succeed on that side of the floor.
“I considered (switching defenses),” Bartow said. “But I’m going to say this: No one – no one knows this team better than I do, so I know what we’re good at and what we’re bad at and so I know what defense to play because I know these guys.”
Bartow also expressed his disappointment in the loss, but said the most frustrating part of the night was not being able to find a way to win at home.
“I’m just like anybody in the room, I’m a competitor,” Bartow said. “When you’re at home, and you’ve got a game at home, you’ve got to figure out a way to line up and win and we just didn’t get it done.”
Despite the frustration levels running high, freshman center Moses Brown said he still has confidence in this season, and that it will be important moving forward the Bruins don’t let losses like the one they suffered Wednesday affect their confidence.
“I have 100 percent faith in (Bartow) and what he tells me to do and what my teammates do,” Brown said. “We work as hard as we can every single day in practice. So I have faith that we will do well this season. And a loss like this shouldn’t really keep us down or have us discouraged in any type of way.”
Brown was one of the few bright spots for UCLA in the loss, as he recorded 17 points on 8-of-10 shooting. The seven-footer also added eight rebounds, four steals and four blocks in 29 minutes.
Sophomore guard Chris Smith had a bounce-back performance for the Bruins as well, coming off the bench to score 14 points and grab three rebounds. Smith had not scored in double figures since UCLA played California on Jan. 5.
Sophomore guard Jaylen Hands said it was nice to see Smith have a solid performance given his recent struggles.
“We’re 11 to 12 guys deep so we want everyone to play well,” Hands said. “To see your friend and teammate do well after he’s been having a rough spot is always good.”
The Bruins will return to action Saturday when they welcome Utah (11-10, 5-4) to Pauley Pavilion.