Saturday, March 10, 2012
Rapid Reaction: Colorado 70, California 59
By T.J. Berka
LOS ANGELES -- A quick look at Colorado's 70-59 victory over California in a Pac-12 tournament semifinal Friday:
Overview: One of the Pac-12's new kids saved the conference from the possible embarrassment of being a one-bid league, as the win by No. 6-seeded Colorado assures that a Pac-12 team that is on the bubble or worse will be getting an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament. The Buffaloes might have earned their Pac-12 stripes by taking the doomsday one-bid scenario out of play.
No. 2-seeded California will be in the field of 68 come Sunday, so Friday's loss to Colorado in the Pac-12 semifinals at Staples Center isn't something that should keep it up all night. However, the Golden Bears might find themselves as a double-digit seed thanks to this loss.
Turning point: Jorge Gutierrez not being able to convert a 3-point play. The Cal guard made a brilliant runner in the lane while being fouled by Colorado's Spencer Dinwiddie to put the Golden Bears within 49-46 with 8:10 left. However, Gutierrez could not convert the free throw part of the and-one. Cal lost steam after that, going 4:28 without scoring and allowing Colorado to go on a 10-0 run to put the game out of reach.
Carlon Brown and Austin Dufault were the main catalysts for Colorado's rally, as Brown scored the first five points of the run while Dufault pitched in the next five. Allen Crabbe, who lead all scorers with 18 points, finally hit a 3-pointer with 3:48 left to get Cal back on the board, but by then the Buffaloes had seized control of the game.
Key player: Take your pick from Brown, Dufault and Andre Roberson. Brown and Roberson each scored 17 points, with Brown putting an exclamation point on the victory with a windmill dunk in the final minute. Roberson fell just short of his 19th double-double, as the sophomore forward had 17 points and 9 rebounds. But his defense in the paint was key, throwing off the Golden Bears. Dufault pitched in 15 points.
Key stat: Roberson actually made every shot he took but one, hitting all six shots he took from the field and 3 of 4 free throws. He came within 45 seconds of having a perfect game, as his final free throw of the night was the only shot he missed.
Miscellaneous: Both Colorado and California got almost all of their scoring from their starting lineups, as the Buffaloes only had five bench points to Cal's four ... Colorado showed why it has the second-best scoring defense in the conference, as it forced the Golden Bears into 11 first-half turnovers and 17 overall. The Bears had four more turnovers than assists, with Brown and Dinwiddie notching four steals each for the Buffaloes.
What’s next: Colorado will play Arizona on Saturday at 6 p.m. ET in the Pac-12 tournament title game, a matchup that pits the school with the most Pac-12 tourney titles against the new kids. California will be in the NCAA tournament barring a huge surprise and will wait for its seeding when the field is released on Sunday.