Bruins forward Travis Wear fouls Colorado center Shane Harris-Tunks as… (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles…)
Those at the Sports Arena can tell the grandkids that they were there the day UCLA upset Colorado … in basketball.
Such is the way the go-figure Pac-12 Conference has played out thus far this season. Colorado entered the game tied for first place. UCLA wandered in seventh, trying to gain some traction.
The 77-60 victory had to restore some order to the college basketball world, at least in the eyes of Bruins fans. This was again UCLA, the school of Alcindor and Walton, against Colorado, school of Meely … Cliff Meely … All-American in 1971?
The Bruins (12-9 overall, 5-4 in conference play) methodically buried the Buffaloes (14-7, 6-3) in the second half, turning a 40-36 halftime lead into a rout with a series of second-half runs.
Lazeric Jones had 17 points, Travis Wear 14, Tyler Lamb 13 and David Wear 11 in a share-the-wealth type performance. The Bruins had a season-high 26 assists.
"That's how basketball is meant to be played," Coach Ben Howland said. "I love it that our players get joy out of making a pass that leads to a play."
When the slicing-and-dicing was done, UCLA had a two-game winning streak to take on the road. The Bruins play Thursday at Washington, where they haven't since 2004, and at Washington State on Saturday.
"Beating a team like this shows we can be in [the race]," Jones said. "If we continue to do that, who knows where we'll end up."
The Bruins play five of the six teams ahead of them in the standings during the second half of conference play.
"Not having to travel to play those teams is a huge bonus for us," David Wear said. "We focused against Colorado. As long as we do that, we can expect the same results against those [other] teams as well."
Colorado, which has won five of its conference games in altitude in Boulder, jumped to a 12-4 lead, then seemed to tire in the thick air.
Lamb and Norman Powell sank back-to-back three-pointers to give UCLA a 40-36 lead at the half. The Bruins made the second half a clinic on both ends.
"Whenever you're getting stops on defense, it's definitely a momentum booster," Lamb said. "It gets everybody up more when you're going down and stopping teams. Then you come down and score and everything starts snowballing."
Lamb was a big part of that roll down hill. He held Carlon Brown — the Buffaloes' leading scorer — to six points, nine below his average.
"I think he scored one basket on Tyler," Howland said. "He did a tremendous, awesome job."
Said Lamb: "I've known [Brown] since I was in middle school. We actually played on the same AAU team a couple times. I know what he is capable of. Coach Howland stressed to me that I was going to have to stop him."
Colorado shot 34.8% in the second half.
On offense, the Bruins were meticulous. Jones had nine assists, Jerime Anderson eight and Lamb six. Colorado came in leading the conference in field-goal percentage defense (38.8%). UCLA shot 59.6% and made nine of 13 three-pointers.
"We're going to enjoy this one," Howland said. "It's nice for our players. It will be 72 hours and 20 minutes before we practice again."