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Chris Smith’s 30 points helps UCLA defeat No. 20 Colorado, 72-68
By Jonathan Bassey, contributing writer
Published February 1, 2020

UCLA guard Chris Smith (5) looks to shoot over Colorado guard Tyler Bey and guard McKinley Wright IV, rear, during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game, Thursday, Jan. 30, 2020, in Los Angeles. UCLA won 72-68. (AP Photo/Michael Owen Baker)

UCLA’s big win over ranked opponent No. 20 Colorado 72-68 on Thursday night has the Bruins back in the Pac-12 hunt leveling their conference record to 4-4, powered by Chris Smith’s 30 point game. 

“Obviously a great win for our team, top-25 opponent. I thought the key to the game would be our rebounding, we were gonna have to get some second chance points because they’re so solid defensively which is what veteran teams are,” said UCLA Head Coach Mick Cronin. “So our second chance points were big for us, we were plus-8 and I think that was the difference in the game.”

The Bruins sprinted out to a 5 point lead from a Cody Riley jumper as the team shot 44.8% in the first half. UCLA’s energy on both ends of the floor was unmatched by the Colorado who currently sits third in the Pac-12 conference. 

Sophomore guard Jules Bernard came up with a big rim protecting block, leading to deep transition three-pointer by Senior guard Prince Ali extending the Bruin lead to 13 points. Ali played big minutes and was a scoring catalyst for the Bruins shooting 3-for-3 from beyond the three-point arc, finishing with 11 points.

The Bruins ended the first half playing dominant basketball leading the Buffs 39-27.

 

Chris Smith, Junior guard from Chicago, played his best game season totaling a career-high 30 points, 9 rebounds, and 3 steals while shooting 13-for-15 from the free-throw line. On the first play following halftime Smith kept the intensity going with an emphatic one-handed dunk drawing the foul, putting the Bruins up 42-27. 

“Just get the shot off. We were offensive rebounding. We beat them on the glass, I think by 10, and a lot of it was on offensive rebounds,” said Smith. “I was just thinking get a shot off. I think we had Cody [Riley] and JHill (Jalen Hill) in at the time, so two big bodies, so just get the shot up and collapse. That’s a shot I believe I can make. I was just trying to get it on the rim.”

Through 20 games Smith leads the Bruins in scoring with 12.2 points per game. The Chicago native is posting career-high percentages in field goals (47.5%), three-pointers (34.2%), and free-throws (85.1%). 

Colorado didn’t go down without a fight. The Buffs went on a 12-0 run after Smith’s dunk trimming the lead to 5 points from Senior forward Lucas Siewert’s deep three-pointer and Junior guard D’shawn Schwartz mid-range jumper. In that period the Bruins committed four turnovers and shot 0-for-5 from the field.  

UCLA guard Prince Ali, right, attempts a dunk over Colorado guard Tyler Bey during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Thursday, Jan. 30, 2020, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Michael Owen Baker)

“They just really out-toughed us. UCLA just out-toughed us. From the start of the game, they were just tougher, but we were better in the second half,” said Colorado Head Coach Tad Boyle. “This team really has heart, but the last two games we got punked. We fouled more than usual. UCLA really deserved to win this game.”

 The Bruins showed poise holding off the Buffs charge with Sophomore guard David Singleton drilling a deep three-pointer building up UCLA’s lead 47-39. 

“Tonight was definitely a confidence booster. It shows us and everyone else that we can hang with some of the best,” said Chris Smith. “We went from playing a Top 10 team in Oregon, that was a rough game, to playing a Top 25 team at home and getting a big win. We’ve got some young guys, but they don’t play like they’re young. Jaime [Jaquez Jr.] hit four clutch free throws in the end. That’s not what a freshman would do. I would have missed it. But we’ve got young guys who don’t play like they’re young, and tonight was a confidence booster to get us back on our feet for the next one.”

 

The Bruins look to continue their climb up the ranks in the Pac-12 taking on the Utah Utes Sunday, February 2nd.

Categories: Basketball | Sports
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