BOULDER - Against UCLA on Saturday, the Colorado men's basketball team found itself trailing at halftime for the first time since an early December loss at Kansas, putting the Buffaloes in a come-from-behind situation for the first time this season in the Pac-12 Conference.
And the Buffs did indeed come from behind - just not far enough.
After facing only a one-point deficit at intermission (35-34), CU found itself down by 13 (61-48) with 8 minutes remaining at the Coors Events Center. The Buffs turned around and executed well in the final minutes, pulling back to within two (75-73) with 20 seconds remaining, then getting a chance to go into overtime on their final possession.
But sophomore guard Askia Booker's shot at a buzzer-beating three to tie the game was unsuccessful. Still, in a 78-75 loss, CU's ability to close the gap said something about its potential late in games, something the Buffs have struggled with so far throughout conference play.
Booker said he was optimistic about his team's effort down the stretch, but that at the same time the Bruins' lead should never have grown so big.
"We're not satisfied," Booker said. "We were happy about the way we fought and came back at the end, and that we gave ourselves a chance to tie the game and go into overtime, but at the same time we should never let it get to that point."
Colorado head coach Tad Boyle said there were positives to take away from Saturday's effort, but the loss and a 1-3 start to conference play were the only stats that mattered in the end.
"Down the stretch I think our guys really executed the last two minutes of the game very well, coming from behind and executing plays offensively . . . I played for Larry Brown, who always said, 'Coming from behind is easy, coming back and winning is hard,'" Boyle said. "(But) our margin for error is so thin in these games, and we're playing like our margin for error is like we're still playing Wofford or Texas Southern."
The Buffs could look at Saturday's late rally as a strength or as an indicator that they need more urgency coming out of halftime. Either way, CU is suffering in conference play and badly needs a pair of wins next week in Washington.
Boyle can see the silver lining from Saturday, but for him, the negatives CU is showing currently outweigh any shining moments.
"Until our players (take ownership), we've got no shot," Boyle said. "We're not getting it done with defense and we're not getting it done rebounding . . . and the bottom line is, those numbers don't lie."