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Booker scores 20, Colorado pulls away to beat Oregon State 78-71 at Pac-12 tournament

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LAS VEGAS — Colorado did not exactly head into the Pac-12 tournament on a roll. Once the Buffaloes got there, all it took was giving the ball to Josh Scott and Askia Booker to get through to the next round.

Scott had 16 points and 14 rebounds, Booker added 20 points and Colorado pulled away for a 78-71 victory over Oregon State in the first round of the Pac-12 tournament Wednesday night.

"It takes mental toughness," Colorado coach Tad Boyle said. "I think it takes a group of guys in that locker room who kind of refuse to lose and have that kind of mentality. You've got to be able to ride some guys."

Colorado (15-16) traded shots with Beavers in an entertaining first half before stretching its lead in the second half behind Booker and Scott.

Booker hit three 3-pointers during a key run midway through the second half and 9 of 10 free throws overall. Scott made 4 of 8 shots and all eight of his free throws.

Tre'Shaun Fletcher added 12 points for 10th-seeded Colorado, which moves on to face second-seeded Oregon in Thursday's quarterfinals.

"I don't think any of us were happy with how the regular season went for our team," Scott said. "And so we kind of saw this as our time."

No. 7 seed Oregon State (17-14) had a hard time containing Booker and the Buffs in the second half, allowing them to hit 13 of 23 shots.

Gary Payton II and Malcolm Duvivier had 17 points each and Olaf Schaftenaar added 16 for the Beavers.

"Tough outcome for us, (we) obviously didn't defend like we've defended all year," Oregon State coach Wayne Tinkle said. "And we let it slip away."

The Beavers were the surprise of the early Pac-12 season, winning five of their first seven games, including a home victory over Arizona.

Oregon State stumbled over the second half of conference after a rash of injuries and closed with six losses in seven games. The only shot at the NCAA Tournament was to win the Pac-12 and the NIT is not a given without a strong conference tournament.

Injuries to Scott and Xavier Johnson stung the Buffaloes in January, leading to their first losing record — so far — in five seasons under coach Tad Boyle.

PHOTO: Colorado's Josh Scott, center, grabs a rebound over Oregon State's Daniel Gomis, left, and Oregon State's Langston Morris-Walker, right, in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in the first round of the Pac-12 conference tournament Wednesday, March 11, 2015, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)
Colorado's Josh Scott, center, grabs a rebound over Oregon State's Daniel Gomis, left, and Oregon State's Langston Morris-Walker, right, in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in the first round of the Pac-12 conference tournament Wednesday, March 11, 2015, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)

One of Colorado's losses was the Oregon State on Feb. 21, when the Buffaloes had trouble with the Beavers' zone and scored 12 first-half points in a 72-58 loss.

Colorado was much better than that in the rematch, with Scott scoring 12 points on his own in the first half.

Oregon State was pretty good, too, casting up one 3-pointer after another. The free-shooting Beavers shot 16 times from behind the 3-point arc, making seven. Duvivier led the way, scoring 13 points to help Oregon State take a 40-38 lead at halftime.

Oregon State's freewheeling ways didn't work early in the second half; the Beavers had trouble getting good looks and missed a few open ones.

Booker, on the other hand, couldn't seem to miss after going 0 for 5 from the floor in the first half. Shooting without hesitation, he hit consecutive 3-pointers and added another during an 8-0 run that put Colorado up 63-54 midway through.

"Once he hit that second one, it was just the whole momentum shift," Tinkle said.

Oregon State made a small run and chipped away at the lead, but Colorado kept knocking down shots to keep them at bay.


TIP-INS

Colorado: The Buffaloes had a 39-26 advantage rebounding. ... Colorado made 24 of 26 free throws.

Oregon State: The Beavers have been outrebounded in 14 straight games. ... Oregon State scored 20 points off Colorado's 18 turnovers.

UP NEXT

Colorado moves on to face No. 2 seed Oregon in the quarterfinals on Thursday.

Oregon State will wait to see if it gets into the NIT.

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Photo Gallery:
PHOTO: Colorado's Josh Scott dunks against Oregon State in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in the first round of the Pac-12 conference tournament Wednesday, March 11, 2015, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)
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