Despite losing Jabari Walker, CU Buffs men’s basketball tops Cal State Bakersfield – The Denver Post

It maybe wasn’t the sort of all-around performance the Colorado Buffaloes will need in the very near future, when they take on a perennial national power before embarking on the bulk of the Pac-12 Conference schedule.

Yet in the final tune-up ahead of the most anticipated home game of the season, the Buffs rediscovered just enough of their shooting touch and, more importantly, made sure they weren’t caught looking ahead.

CU emerged from its finals week lull Saturday afternoon to post a 60-46 win against Cal State Bakersfield. It was the Buffs’ final mid-major foe of the regular season, and it also was CU’s final test before a visit from No. 7 Kansas on Tuesday.

The Buffs played most of the game without leading scorer and rebounder Jabari Walker, who took a shot to the head just 4 minutes, 21 seconds into the game. Walker immediately was escorted to the locker room by the team medical staff and did not return.

“(Bakersfield) doesn’t make it easy on you,” CU head coach Tad Boyle said. “They guard you. They rebound. It’s not easy to score on Bakersfield. So we knew we were going to have to make some shots. We finally made some shots from three, which I think was a step in the right direction.”

It was the Buffs’ defense that led the way, as CU held CSU Bakersfield to 27.3% shooting from the field with a 2-for-14 showing on 3-pointers.

CU entered the game mired in an extended long-range shooting slump, hitting 21.9% of its 3s (16-for-73) over its previous four games. But the Buffs knocked down three of their first four 3-point attempts of the afternoon, ultimately finishing with a solid 7-for-17 mark. That included a 2-for-3 day on 3s from point guard Keeshawn Barthelemy, who was mired in a 1-for-21 3-point rut over the previous six games.

“I’ve been trusting my work recently,” Barthelemy said. “It’s just about confidence and my teammates trust me. And I trust them back.”

The Buffs led 24-15 at halftime and built a 17-point lead midway through the second half. CSU Bakersfield managed to stay within striking distance for much of the contest largely due to 11 offensive rebounds that led to 12 second-chance points. CSU Bakersfield whittled CU’s lead down to eight points with 5:14 remaining, but the Buffs scored the next six to add some much-needed breathing room down the stretch.

Walker’s absence surely contributed to the near-dozen offensive rebounds grabbed by the Roadrunners, but CU still managed to outrebound the visitors 40-34 overall.

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With Walker sidelined, sophomore wing Nique Clifford logged 28 minutes, the second-highest total of his career and his highest total in a regulation game, as it trailed only the 35 minutes he played in a season-opening overtime win against Montana State. Clifford also went 2-for-3 on 3-pointers before finishing with 10 points, a team-high seven rebounds, and a career-high-matching three assists.

“We had a week off, so what we focused on a lot was just getting a lot of shots in,” Clifford said. “I think it paid off this week. A lot of practice, a lot of work, and some of the shots started to fall. So we’ve just got to keep that up and be more consistent when we’re taking our threes.”

Fast break

What went right: CU went 7-for-17 on 3-pointers and outrebounded CSU Bakersfield 40-34. CU also was 15-for-19 at the free throw line.

What went wrong: Despite being alerted to Bakersfield’s ability to grab offensive rebounds in the scouting report, the Roadrunners turned 11 offensive boards into 12 second-chance points.

Star of the game: Nique Clifford. CU received balanced production throughout the rotation, but Clifford went 4-for-7 with 10 points and a team-leading seven rebounds. He also matched a career high with three assists and committed only one turnover in 28 minutes.

What’s next: It’s showdown time, as CU hosts a perennial power (and coach Tad Boyle’s alma mater) in No. 7 Kansas on Tuesday (7 p.m., ESPN2).

Colorado 60, Cal State Bakersfield 46

CS BAKERSFIELD (4-4)Henson 0-1 0-0 0, Stith 2-9 4-7 8, Edler-Davis 2-8 3-4 8, McCall 3-4 2-2 8, Higgins 4-13 0-0 9, Reynolds 0-1 1-2 1, Washington 2-2 1-1 5, Williams 0-7 0-0 0, Easter 1-5 2-2 4, Panopio 1-2 1-1 3, Collum 0-3 0-0 0. Totals 15-55 14-19 46.

COLORADO (9-3)Battey 2-4 4-4 8, J.Walker 0-1 0-0 0, da Silva 1-9 4-5 7, Barthelemy 4-7 2-2 12, Parquet 4-6 1-1 10, Clifford 4-7 0-2 10, Simpson 0-4 4-5 4, Lovering 3-5 0-0 6, O’Brien 0-0 0-0 0, Hammond 1-2 0-0 3. Totals 19-45 15-19 60.

Halftime — Colorado 24-15. 3-point field goals — CS Bakersfield 2-14 (Edler-Davis 1-3, Higgins 1-4, Easter 0-1, McCall 0-1, Panopio 0-1, Stith 0-1, Williams 0-3), Colorado 7-17 (Barthelemy 2-3, Clifford 2-3, Hammond 1-2, Parquet 1-2, da Silva 1-4, Battey 0-1, Simpson 0-2). Rebounds — CS Bakersfield 34 (Edler-Davis 8), Colorado 40 (Clifford 7). Assists — CS Bakersfield 4 (Stith, Washington, Williams, Panopio 1), Colorado 16 (Simpson 4). Total fouls — CS Bakersfield 18, Colorado 16. A — 5,888 (11,064).

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