Colorado 58, Kansas State 56
Boulder, Colo. — Call this one the game-losing shot.
Rodney McGruder sank a long three-pointer with the buzzer sounding and Alec Burks’ hand in his face, but the ball was still on his fingertips as the clock hit zeros and Colorado escaped with a wild victory over Kansas State on Saturday night.
“I thought it was good,” McGruder said.
“I thought he got it off in time,” teammate Jacob Pullen agreed.
So did some of the Buffs.
“I wasn’t confident at all,” that it would be overturned, Cory Higgins admitted.
Burks couldn’t believe the ball went through the hoop — although he was sure it didn’t matter.
“Oh, I mean, he turned around with one second left and shot it and threw it up and it went in, all net. It’s crazy for anybody to make that. It’s like a H-O-R-S-E shot or something,” Burks said. “So, I don’t know how he made it. He saw me everywhere he was shooting. I had my hand in his face. I don’t see how he saw the basketball hoop. I’m 6-6. I’m taller than him (by two inches). So, I don’t know how he got it over me.”
Nevertheless, as McGruder’s teammates mobbed him, Burks raced back to his bench yelling that the shot was too late.
“I was very confident,” Burks said. “I saw the red light when he was shooting in my face, so I knew he couldn’t have gotten it off on in time.”
The Wildcats were sure he had, but they stopped celebrating their incredible road win and soon stood around just like the Buffaloes as the officials gathered at the scorer’s table to take another look at it.
A full minute later, the Coors Events Center erupted as the officials waived off the basket.
“We took a loss,” McGruder lamented. “So, that shot doesn’t even matter.”
The Buffaloes (16-10, 5-6) swept the Wildcats (16-9, 4-6) for the first time since 2003-04.
Higgins led Colorado with 17 points and Levi Knutson added 16. Jamar Samuels led Kansas State with 13 points, Jacob Pullen had 12 and McGruder 11.
Burks, who came in averaging 21.4 points in conference action, was stifled all night and had just four points when he stepped up to the line with 43 seconds left and swished two free throws to give Colorado the lead for good at 54-53.
Pullen lost the handle on the ball and Burks scooped it up and slammed it to give Colorado a 56-53 lead.
Pullen, who was averaging 19.6 points in the Big 12, raced back downcourt with the inbounds pass and swished a three — but Martin had called timeout, so that makes two 3s that went through the hoop that didn’t count.
So, Kansas State still trailed by three with 22.1 seconds left and the shot clock off.
After a timeout, Pullen drove through the lane for a layup that made it 56-55 with 13.2 seconds left.
Knutson’s two free throws with 11.9 seconds left restored Colorado’s three-point lead. Knutson then fouled Pullen with 3.9 seconds left before he could get off a three-pointer to tie it.
Pullen sank the first but missed the second one intentionally and the ball went out of bounds to Kansas State, down 58-56, with 1.1 seconds left.
Each team called another timeout and Colorado coach Tad Boyle recounted how No. 22 Texas A&M had sunk a three-pointer to force overtime on a last-second inbounds play Wednesday night, a game the Aggies won, 73-70.
In that game, the shooter came open at the top of the key for an uncontested shot.
This time, Shane Southwell threw across the floor to McGruder, who spun and got off the shot with Burks all over him.
“I thought we contested it,” Boyle said. “If it was good, obviously the basketball gods weren’t on our side.”
But it wasn’t good, and soon it was the Buffs’ who were celebrating a fantastic finish to a less-than-pretty game that included 47 fouls, 53 free throws and 26 turnovers.
“It’s not about that last shot, it’s about everything else before that last shot,” Kansas State coach Frank Martin insisted, noting his team’s 13 missed free throws.
The Wildcats almost walked away winners nonetheless. All McGruder needed was a split-second more.
“They cross-courted it to a good shooter and he made a shot,” Boyle said. “Just thank God it was after the buzzer.”
No. 19 Missouri 84, Oklahoma 61
Columbia, Mo. — Missouri overwhelmed Oklahoma with its bench, getting 16 points from Michael Dixon and 11 from Justin Safford.
No. 22 Texas A&M 70, Texas Tech 67
Lubbock, Texas — Khris Middleton scored 16 points to lead Texas A&M past Texas Tech. The Red Raiders have lost three straight games.
The Aggies overcame a 10-point deficit in the first half.
Nebraska 65, Oklahoma State 54
Lincoln, Neb. — Lance Jeter scored 16 points, and Nebraska broke a three-game losing streak with a victory over Oklahoma State.
The Cornhuskers (16-8, 4-6 Big 12) won for the first time in five meetings with the Cowboys.
Oklahoma State (16-8, 4-6 Big 12) is 0-5 in Big 12 road games this season.