Las Vegas • Askia Booker scored 21 points and keyed a late run, leading Colorado to a 59-56 win over scrappy Southern California in the opening round of the Pac-12 tournament on Wednesday.
Their NCAA tournament hopes still up in the air, the Buffaloes could not afford a loss to the last-place Trojans.
Despite beating USC twice during the regular season, Colorado (22-10) had a hard time shaking the Trojans, unable to get much separation until going on a 13-1 run late in the second half.
USC (11-21) still had a shot at the end, but Byron Wesley’s 3-pointer at the buzzer came up just short.
Josh Scott had 13 points and Xavier Johnson added 11 for the Buffaloes, who move on to face California in Thursday’s quarterfinals.
Wesley finished with 23 points for the Trojans, who kept it close despite going 5 of 22 from 3-point range.
Colorado appeared to be in good shape for an NCAA tournament berth after opening the season 14-2. Things changed quickly when leading scorer Spencer Dinwiddie went down with a knee injury on Jan. 12.
The Buffaloes went 7-7 without their star guard and hurt their NCAA tournament resume by losing three of their final four regular-season games. That left Colorado teetering on the NCAA bubble and likely in need of a good Pac-12 tournament run to earn a spot in the bracket.
Oregon 88, Oregon State 74 • In Las Vegas, Joseph Young scored 15 of his 19 points in the second half and Oregon pulled away for an 88-74 victory over Oregon State in the first round of the Pac-12 tournament on Wednesday.
The 342nd meeting between the Civil War rivals was their first in the Pac-12 tournament and carried plenty of implications for Oregon’s NCAA tournament chances.
The seventh-seeded Ducks (23-8) play second-seeded UCLA (23-8) in Thursday’s quarterfinals.
Note » All games on Pac-12 Network, unless otherwise noted.
» No. 8 Utah 67, No. 9 Washington 61
» No. 5 Colorado 59, No. 12 USC 56
» No. 7 Oregon 88,No. 10 Oregon State 74
» No. 6 Stanford vs.No. 11 Wash. State, late
» No. 1 Arizona vs. No 8 Utah, 1 p.m.
» No. 4 Cal vs. No. 5 Colorado, 3:30 p.m.
» No. 2 UCLA vs. No. 7 Oregon, 7 p.m.
» No. 3 Arizona State vs. Stanford-WSU winner, 9:30 p.m., Fox Sports 1
» Utah-Arizona winner vs. Colorado-Cal winner, 7 p.m., Pac-12 Networks
» UCLA-Oregon winner vs. Arizona State-Stanford/Washington State winner, 9:30 p.m., Fox Sports 1
» Semifinal winners, 4 p.m., Fox Sports 1
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