BOULDER, Colo. — Colorado turned the game in its favor with defense.
Tyler Bey and McKinley Wright each scored 16 points and No. 23 Colorado leaned on a strong defensive effort to beat UC Irvine 69-53 on Monday night.
Colorado (3-0) pressured Irvine into 22 turnovers leading to 21 points for the Buffaloes, who have won all eight of their meetings with the Anteaters. It was the 17th win in Colorado's last 19 home games.
"I thought our defensive intensity and awareness, for 40 minutes, was really good tonight," Colorado coach Tad Boyle said. "We turned them over 22 times. We didn't play our best offensive game by any means but we did take care of the ball better (7 turnovers) and that's another sign of progress. That's what you look for in these early games."
Bey spearheaded Colorado's defensive performance with six steals.
"Tonight, it was one of those nights where I was in the stance, almost every play, and I was able to get my hands up in the passing lanes and stuff like that," Bey said. "I've been anticipating those passes a little better than the past years. It's working better for me."
Collin Welp had 12 points to lead Irvine (3-2). Tommy Rutherford added 10 points but the wave of turnovers by the Anteaters was too much to overcome.
"That's uncharacteristic for our team," Irvine coach Russell Turner said. "A lot of that credit goes to Colorado. They have a commitment on the defensive end. That's a big part of their success. ... They were able to impose their will on us and that showed up in the turnover column."
With the Buffaloes leading 51-38, the Anteaters scored seven straight points capped by Eyassu Worku's fastbreak jumper to pull to within six points with 9:14 left to play.
But Maddox Daniels hit a 3-pointer from the corner to break up the Anteaters' momentum and minutes later Bey shook loose in the paint for a dunk and Wright came back on the next possession to hit a jumper to give the Buffaloes an 11-point advantage with 6:06 remaining. Irvine could get no closer the rest of the way.
Colorado moved out to a 40-30 halftime lead, generating the double-digit lead at the break with a 14-2 run that included a breakaway dunk by Bey and a 3-pointer Daylen Kountz following consecutive turnovers by the Anteaters.
CALIFORNIA 54, PRAIRIE VIEW A&M 50
BERKELEY, Calif. — Even as his team has raced out to its best start in four years, California coach Mark Fox has been critical of his team's defense. Against Prairie View A&M, it was the Golden Bears offense that caught Fox's ire.
For good reason. The Bears had 22 turnovers and went seven minutes without scoring in the second half before holding on at the end.
"We were poorly coached and I thought we played poorly. Two wrongs make a wrong," Fox said after Cal beat Prairie View on Monday night. "We were fortunate to escape with a win but we have to play better basketball than we played today."
The Bears start is their best since winning their first four in 2015-16, and it has come in Fox's first season in Berkeley.
But Cal's mistake-filled game against Prairie View A&M was evidence that there is still a long, long way to go.
"Things weren’t really going our way, a lot of charge calls, a lot of just careless plays, said Cal's Matt Bradley, who scored eight of his 16 points late in the second half. "Nothing was going our way offensively, defensively but we stuck it out. We’re 4-0. That’s all I’m worried about.”
Bradley scored eight of his 16 points late in the second half to help the Bears (4-0) remain unbeaten in Fox’s first season.
Grant Anticevich added 13 points and six rebounds for the Bears. Anticevich’s 3-pointer put Cal ahead 52-48 with 2:40 remaining.
Chancellor Ellis scored for Prairie View A&M to make it 52-50 but the Panthers missed numerous chances down the stretch. Ellis missed a 3-point shot and Dajuan Madden was called for an offensive foul while trying to set a screen with 8.3 seconds remaining.
“Because we had been so good offensively we felt like we could just shoot our way to victory,” Fox said. “You have to do more things than just shoot jumpers to win. I felt like that was our mentality offensively and that’s not how you win. I felt we had a little bit of an immature approach offensively.”
Ellis and Faite Williams scored 12 points apiece for Prairie View A&M (1-4).
The Panthers went nearly nine minutes without scoring in the second half. Darius Williams broke up an inbounds pass and made a buzzer-beating shot just before halftime to end the drought.
UCLA 76, SOUTHERN UTAH 61
LOS ANGELES — Chris Smith scored 20 points and Jalen Hill added 17 points to lead UCLA to a win over Southern Utah on Monday night.
The Bruins remain undefeated and have won all four of their games at home.
UCLA built an early 17-3 lead behind an impressive defense and Southern Utah went 8½ minutes without a field goal during that stretch. UCLA had 11 steals and 10 blocked shots,
John Knight III led the Thunderbirds (2-2) with 14 points.
In the second half, Shareef O’Neal made a 3-pointer from the right wing for the first points of his UCLA career. O’Neal, the son of Shaquille O’Neal, had missed the two previous games due to a hip injury and sat out last season because of open-heart surgery last December.
This was the first meeting between the schools.
For Southern Utah, Dre Marin made a 3-pointer from the corner with 10:44 left in the first half to end the scoring drought and cut the lead to 17-6. Southern Utah (2-2) trailed 35-22 at halftime.