Defensive collapse by CU Buffs leads to another deflating loss at Cal

Jan. 10—Fast break

Why the Buffs lost: CU allowed Cal to go 14-for-30 on 3-pointers, with the Bears making nine during a second-half rally.

Three stars

Cal's Jaylon Tyson: Went 8-for-8 in the second half with 23 of his career-high 30 points. Tyson also was 7-for-7 on free throws.

CU's Eddie Lampkin Jr.: Posted his fifth double-double of the season with a career-high 22 points alongside a game-high 11 rebounds.

CU's Tristan da Silva: Matched a career-high with four 3-pointers, finishing with 20 points and six rebounds.

Up next: The Buffs will try to snap a three-game losing streak at home on Saturday against USC (8 p.m., ESPN2).

BERKELEY, Calif. — The Colorado men's basketball team has turned in some forgettable performances at Haas Pavilion since joining the Pac-12 Conference.

This one ranks up there with any of them.

The Buffaloes welcomed freshman Cody Williams back to the starting lineup but it wasn't enough to prevent another meltdown in Berkeley, as CU squandered a 20-point lead before saying farewell to Haas with an 82-78 defeat.

The Buffs also fell to 3-16 all-time at Cal with a 2-9 mark at Haas since joining the Pac-12.

Cal hit nine 3-pointers in the second half and finished 14-for-30 from the arc overall while handing CU its fourth loss in as many true road games this season.

"We wasn't really talking, and then it was just making mistakes," said CU center Eddie Lampkin Jr. "Every team does it. We've just got to go look at the film, work at it, and get better at our 3-point defense."

Although guard Julian Hammond III missed his second consecutive game due to a back injury, Williams returned after missing the previous seven games due to a left wrist injury, returning to the starting lineup one game after senior forward Tristan da Silva returned from a three-game absence due to a sprained ankle.

For the first 20 minutes, the reunion of CU's regular starting lineup appeared inspired. Working largely through Lampkin, the Buffs shot .577 in the first half while holding the Bears to a .235 mark. At the break, Lampkin was 6-for-6 with 15 points and three assists, and the Buffs held a 40-26 lead.

However, the seeds of Cal's comeback were planted late in the first half, as the Bears put a dent in CU's 20-point lead with back-to-back 3-pointers to end the frame. CU still led by 19 points, 50-31, after consecutive 3-pointers from KJ Simpson and da Silva early in the second half, but the Buffs collapsed from there.

The Bears outscored CU 51-28 over the final 17 minutes. While Cal's 3-point shooting highlighted the rally, the root cause of the Buffs' defensive struggles was less about guarding the arc than an inability to guard the ball. Highlighted by Jaylon Tyson, who went 8-for-8 in the second half and finished with a career-high 30 points, Cal's ball-handlers routinely beat CU defenders off the dribble, and when help defenders collapsed on the ball, the Bears knocked down open looks from long range.

Cal took its first lead with 5 minutes, 38 seconds remaining when Tyson simply drove to the hoop for an easy dunk. He did it again with 48 seconds left, after calmly dribbling down the shot clock, to give the Bears a four-point lead.

"We over-helped a lot," CU head coach Tad Boyle said. "We didn't guard the ball well enough, so we got in rotations. Those are the two things that I'd say hurt us. I think our defensive struggles are attributable to two things — our inability to guard the ball, and ball-screen defense. Neither one of them were good enough tonight, the second half especially."

Even after wasting the lead, the Buffs still had their chances. Following Tyson's late drive-and-dunk, da Silva knocked down a 3-pointer that got CU back within a point. Tyson hit a pair of free throws and Williams answered with a floater to keep the deficit at one, and the Buffs still had a shot when Cal's Jalen Cone made just one of two free throws.

Da Silva finished 4-for-7 on 3-pointers, but he missed an open look on a potential go-ahead three in the waning seconds. Cone then hit a pair of free throws to complete the Cal comeback.

Cal's 14 3-pointers were the most allowed by CU since Northern Iowa hit 14 while winning in Boulder on Dec. 10, 2019.

"Our ball-screen defense wasn't good enough. Our ability to guard the ball wasn't good enough," Boyle said. "And you give up (14) threes and nine in the second half. You put so much pressure on your offense, and our offense was good enough tonight. We played well enough to win.

"Everyone looks at final scores. And I get that. Winning, it means a lot. It means everything. However, we are two possessions from being 4-1 in this league. But we're not. We're 2-3 because we couldn't get a stop at Arizona State when we needed to, and we couldn't get a stop tonight when we needed to. And we still had a chance to win it. But defensively, we're just not good enough for 40 minutes."

COLORADO (11-5, 2-3)

Williams 5-13 6-7 16, da Silva 8-14 0-1 20, Lampkin 7-11 8-9 22, Hadley 3-6 0-2 6, Simpson 5-13 0-0 12, O'Brien 1-2 0-0 2, Diop 0-0 0-0 0, Ruffin 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 29-59 14-19 78.

CALIFORNIA (6-10, 2-3)

Aimaq 3-8 0-0 6, Kennedy 2-8 0-2 5, Cone 4-17 5-6 17, Tyson 10-15 7-7 30, Celestine 2-7 2-2 8, Brown 2-4 1-2 7, Newell 3-5 0-0 8, Curtis 0-1 0-0 0, Larson 0-0 1-2 1. Totals 26-65 16-21 82.

Halftime — Colorado 40-26. 3-point field goals — Colorado 6-15 (Williams 0-3, da Silva 4-7, Simpson 2-4, O'Brien 0-1); Cal 14-30 (Kennedy 1-2, Cone 4-12, Tyson 3-5, Celestine 2-5, Brown 2-3, Newell 2-3). Rebounds — Colorado 39 (Lampkin 11); Cal 35 (Aimaq 10). Assists — Colorado 12 (Lampkin, Simpson 3). Turnovers — Colorado 10 (Williams 5); Cal 5 (Tyson, Newell 2). Total fouls — Colorado 16; Cal 17. Fouled out — Aimaq. A — 2,258.