Hollywood ending scripted by CU Buffs in stunning double-OT win at USC

Feb. 17—Fast break

Why the Buffs won: CU outrebounded USC 47-22 and used a 17-3 run in the second half to get back in the game.

Three stars:

1. CU's KJ Simpson: The Buffs' point guard put on a show in his hometown, recording 30 points, nine rebounds and five assists with a career-high six 3-pointers.

2. USC's Boogie Ellis: Matched Simpson's 30 points with five 3-pointers and five assists.

3. CU's Tristan da Silva: Wasn't his best shooting night at 6-for-16, but he hit a key 3-pointer in the first overtime before finishing with 18 points, eight rebounds and four assists.

Up next: CU will have a slower week before hosting Utah next Saturday (7 p.m., Pac-12 Network).

LOS ANGELES — With another gut-wrenching, highly-damaging defeat closing in, the Colorado men's basketball team finally said enough is enough.

In a game dominated much of the way by USC, the Buffaloes completed a furious comeback down the stretch, rallying for a 92-89 double-overtime overtime victory at the Galen Center on Saturday.

CU rallied from down 16 points to force overtime on a KJ Simpson-to-Luke O'Brien dunk with 3.7 seconds remaining in regulation, ultimately winning a game in which the Buffs appeared equally deflated and defeated midway through the second half.

The Buffs had lost four of their previous five games, brought a 1-7 record in true road games into the Galen Center, and finished with a season-high 21 turnovers, including a season-high 19 in regulation. Yet CU nonetheless was able to escape Los Angeles with a two-game split thanks to a victory that, for the moment, offers a life preserver to the Buffs' postseason hopes.

The 16-point rally tied for the 11th-largest comeback victory in program history, and it was the fourth-largest in a true road game.

"This team's toughness, their competitiveness, their fight, it's never something that I've questioned. It's never gone away," CU head coach Tad Boyle said. "We've come back from deficits like that before and we did it again tonight. I always say good teams can come back, great teams can come back and win. I'm not saying we're a great team yet, but we played like one down the stretch here tonight because our guys showed unbelievable grit and toughness, both offensively and defensively over probably the last 15 minutes of that game."

CU suffered a run of turnovers on four consecutive possessions late in the first half, then committed three more on the first three possessions of the second half as the Trojans gradually padded their 39-33 halftime lead. USC extended its lead to 65-49 on a fast-break layup from Bronny James with 9 minutes, 52 seconds remaining when the Buffs' fortunes abruptly altered.

O'Brien knocked down a 3-pointer that sparked the Buffs to a 17-3 run, trimming that 17-point deficit down to 68-66 with Simpson capping the run on a 3-pointer with 3 minutes, 41 seconds remaining.

CU stayed within one possession down the stretch before O'Brien's tying dunk in the waning seconds, and the Buffs took their first lead since a 15-14 advantage early in the first half on a driving bucket from Simpson midway through the first overtime. The Buffs appeared poised to complete the comeback in the first overtime when Tristan da Silva, who was 0-for-5 on 3-pointers to that point, knocked one down from the corner to give CU an 83-79 lead. USC, though, kept the Buffs off the scoreboard the rest of the frame while getting two free throws from Boogie Ellis and a driving layup from Isaiah Collier, sending the game into a second overtime.

"Sometimes we have competitive practices like that where we do time-and-score drills and it just happens to go into overtime and keeps going," Simpson said. "So we've gone against ourselves doing it. One thing about us is our fight. We're never going to give up no matter what the score is. It just was on full display tonight. I'm really proud of the team."

Simpson opened the second overtime with his career-high sixth 3-pointer, and two free throws from O'Brien gave the Buffs a five-point lead they never relinquished. USC twice battled to within a point, but J'Vonne Hadley and Simpson each went 2-for-2 on free throws in the final 2 minutes to hold off the Trojans.

Once a desperation three from Ellis at the buzzer was off the mark, CU celebrated its seventh win in 10 games at the Galen Center since joining the Trojans in the Pac-12.

Simpson enjoyed a monster game in front of a sizeable personal cheering section in his hometown, going 6-for-9 from long range before finishing with 30 points, nine rebounds and five assists.

"The only way you have that (17-3) run is if you get stops defensively. And that's something that we didn't do the majority of the evening," Boyle said. "We didn't string stops together. But in that run, we did. It got us back in the game and got us momentum and our guys started believing."

COLORADO (17-9, 8-7)

Williams 5-6 4-6 14, da Silva 6-16 5-6 18, Lampkin Jr. 1-4 1-4 3, Hadley 5-8 3-3 13, Simpson 9-17 6-8 30, O'Brien 3-4 2-2 9, Hammond III 2-4 0-0 5, Diop 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 31-59 21-29 92.

USC (10-16, 4-11)

Rodman 2-6 2-3 6, Morgan 4-7 0-0 8, Johnson 6-13 0-0 14, Collier 9-19 5-7 25, Ellis 10-19 5-6 30, Iwuchukwu 0-1 0-0 0, James 1-2 0-1 2, Wright 1-3 0-0 2, Sellers 0-1 0-0 0, Page 1-2 0-0 2. Totals 34-73 12-17 89.

Halftime — USC 39-33. 3-point field goals — Colorado 9-20 (Williams 0-1, da Silva 1-6, Simpson 6-9, O'Brien 1-2, Hammond III 1-2); USC 9-21 (Rodman 0-1, Johnson 2-5, Collier 2-5, Ellis 5-9, Sellers 0-1). Rebounds — Colorado 47 (Hadley 10); USC 22 (Rodman, Morgan, Ellis 4). Assists — Colorado 15 (Simpson 5); USC 22 (Collier 9). Turnovers — Colorado 21 (Williams 7); USC 9 (Morgan, Ellis 2). Total fouls — Colorado 15; USC 18. Fouled out — Morgan. Attendance — 6,142.