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SALT LAKE CITY — In a game of several runs, Colorado came out on top in a key conference matchup late in the season to beat Utah 71-63 on Saturday.
Colorado (17-11, 8-8) opened up the game on an 8-0 run as Utah failed to score in the first five minutes of the game. Utah (15-13, 9-7) would eventually fight back and take a 2-point lead before Colorado put distance on the Utes. Colorado held a 9-point lead at the half, which would be good enough to keep the Utes from stealing a win in the penultimate weekend of play.
Utah cut into Colorado’s lead several times throughout the game, but Colorado had an answer for everything Utah brought at them, despite several scoring droughts. Utah outscored Colorado in the second half 37-36, but it wasn’t enough to erase the first-half lead.
Utah’s Sedrick Barefield hit a 3-pointer with just over two minutes left to play to cut Colorado’s lead to six. But Colorado’s Lucas Siewart would answer with a 3-pointer, and McKinley Wright would follow that up with a 3-pointer of his own to crush Utah’s hopes of a late-game comeback.
To add to Utah’s misery, the team shot a measly 39 percent from the field and finished the night shooting 5-of-26 from three. Colorado made five 3-pointers in the game, and shot 48 percent from the field.
“Not making shots, that was a big part of it,” Utah head coach Larry Krystkowiak told media. “We were pretty dialed in for the most part. When you are playing in the 60’s on the road in this conference going into the last media timeout, that is where you want to be.
"But it takes three phases to win a game," he added. "You have to have some offense, play defense — which we checked that box — and we out-rebounded them, which is hard to do here against a Colorado team. Give Colorado credit, they played really well.”
Colorado’s Tyler Bey led his team in scoring with 17 points and 10 rebounds in the 8-point win. D’Shawn Schwartz added 16 points and six rebounds, Evan Battey added 15 points and Wright added 10 points for the Buffs.
Utah finished the night with four players in double figures and was led by Barefield’s 19 points, three rebounds and three assists. He was joined by Donnie Tillman’s 14 points, Both Gach’s 12 points and Timmy Allen’s 11 points. Allen returned to play for the first time for Utah after missing two games last week with a sore back.
Colorado’s physical nature of play was difficult on Utah, who was without starting center Jayce Johnson for much of the night after getting in foul trouble. Johnson played only 27 minutes in the loss as, he was forced to sit on the bench. He finished with 13 rebounds in that time, but only contributed 2 points.
Utah returns home for its final two games of the regular season with hopes of claiming a first-round bye in the conference tournament. The Utes return to action against USC on Thursday at 8 p.m. at the Huntsman Center. The game will be broadcast on FS1 and ESPN 700.