Tad Boyle and the Colorado Buffaloes are still finding reasons for optimism, despite a 10-7 overall record, a winless start to Pac-12 play and the fact that they just surrendered 100 points in a game for the first time since 2010.

After starting out conference play with a disappointing 0-3 record, they came into Thursday’s game against No. 4 UCLA with a chip on their shoulders. But standing shoulder to shoulder through a stellar first half wasn’t enough to save them from Bryce Alford as the Bruins went on to win 104-89.

“Let me just tip my hat to UCLA,” head coach Tad Boyle said postgame. “They’re a terrific offensive basketball team, as good a team that I’ve coached against at the collegiate level in 23 years. My hat goes off to Steve Alford and obviously his son, Bryce, who had a heck of a night.”

The highs and lows of the game perfectly summarized CU’s season thus far. The Buffs defeated two ranked teams, No. 22 Texas and No. 13 Xavier, while also losing badly to a struggling Colorado State team. Thursday night was no different as the Buffaloes gave the Bruins (17-1, 4-1) a run for their money early. Colorado actually led 21-20 at the midway point of the first half, but couldn’t cool Bryce Alford and his white-hot teammates from 3-point range in the second half.

UCLA could hardly be stopped from deep as they made 19-of-31 of attempts, nine of which came from Alford. He finished the night with a stellar 37 points.

“This is the best offensive team in the country,” Boyle said. “When they make 19 threes, it’s hard to overcome that.”

That’s not to say the Buffs didn’t play well on offense, however. Even though the Bruins excelled with 56.5 percent shooting, the Buffs posted 46.6 percent on their end of the floor. But just like much of their season up to this point, good just wasn’t good enough.

“I thought our guys battled and fought, but we just didn’t have any answer for Bryce Alford, obviously,” Boyle said. “They’re a very difficult team to guard because they share the ball and they move the ball and they’re very unselfish. Our offense was good enough, you know, we scored 89 points, we got to the free throw line, didn’t shoot as good as we’re capable of.”

Although the Buffs boast great players with senior guard Derrick White and senior forward Xavier Johnson leading an arsenal of four fifth-year seniors, they’ve suffered a lackluster season with just three more wins than losses and no wins to their name in Pac-12 play.

“I’m trying to be positive with these guys,” Boyle said. “Let’s learn from our mistakes but let’s be positive and understand that you guys are capable basketball players.

“I think they know that, but yeah, we’ve definitely lost some swagger. It’s hard to have some swagger when you’re 0-4. But you can’t you can’t lose your heart, you can’t lose your determination, you can’t lose your fight. We haven’t lost that, I promise you.”

With four teams in the Associated Press Top 25 right now — No. 4 UCLA, No. 13 Oregon, No. 16 Arizona and No. 25 USC — the Pac-12 is no joke this season; not that it ever is these days.

“I do believe our team is getting better,” Boyle said. “I think we’re doing some really good things. It’s just you play Arizona at Arizona, and then you [host] the No. 4 team. I’m not sure there are three teams that are better offensively.”

The key to getting over the hump, junior guard George King said, was to “Just keep believing, can’t get your head down.”

And the team knows their comeback effort won’t be easy in a league this talented.

“We just got to take it one game at a game,” White said. “We can’t try to get four right away, we just [have] to focus on USC, try to beat them, get on a one-game win streak.”

The Buffs return to action in Boulder on Sunday, Jan. 15 as they brave No. 25 USC at 6:30 p.m. The game will be broadcast on ESPNU.