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Thursday, March 10, 2011

Colorado stuns Kansas State, advances to face Kansas in Big 12 tournament semifinals

Kansas State players Martavious Irving, left, Shane Southwell (1), Devon Peterson (2) and Jordan Henriquez-Roberts (21) sit on the bench in the final moments of Colorado's 87-75 victory over KSU on Thursday, March 10, 2011, in Kansas City, Mo.

Kansas State players Martavious Irving, left, Shane Southwell (1), Devon Peterson (2) and Jordan Henriquez-Roberts (21) sit on the bench in the final moments of Colorado's 87-75 victory over KSU on Thursday, March 10, 2011, in Kansas City, Mo.

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— When Colorado waltzed in and beat nationally ranked Kansas State two months ago, ending a nine-game losing streak to the Wildcats, Cory Higgins sounded a warning.

"It's a whole new Colorado," the senior said.

Indeed, it is.

Higgins scored 28 points, Alec Burks added 24 and the Buffaloes made it three in a row over Kansas State on Thursday, ousting the No. 19 Wildcats 87-75 in the quarterfinals of the Big 12 tournament.

Kansas State had dominated Colorado for years. But now, for the first time in a series that began in 1933, the Buffaloes have beaten the Wildcats three times in one season.

"We beat a great team three times," Higgins said. "It can't be a fluke all three times."

Colorado (21-12) was the only team to beat the streaking Wildcats (22-10) in their final nine games. And the latest win was a big one for the Buffaloes as they try to secure an NCAA tournament bid in their final season as a member of the Big 12 before packing up for the Pac-10.

"People will see the results of this game and see the fact that K-State's playing at a high level," Colorado coach Tad Boyle said. "Those guys are good and they're playing very, very well right now. We beat a good team. We're not backing into this thing. I try not to talk about things I don't have control over. But this is our sixth top-50 RPI win of the season. I don't know how many bubble teams have six."

Jacob Pullen and Curtis Kelly had 18 points apiece for Kansas State, which rode a six-game winning streak into the tournament. Kelly also had 10 rebounds.

"They beat us three times, so they're just better than we are, no ifs, ands or buts about it," Kansas State coach Frank Martin said. "That's been proven on the floor."

Higgins had 19 points in the second half, picking up the slack while Burks struggled with three fouls and spent much of the time on the bench. The Buffaloes closed the game on a 14-3 run, sinking eight straight free throws during one stretch. They were 23 of 27 from the line.

"We feed off each other," Higgins said of himself and Burks. "Throughout the year we talk to each other during the game. It's hard for teams to shut down both of us. We just pick each other up."

Andre Roberson had 11 points and 14 rebounds for Colorado.

Burks, shadowed by Pullen, picked up three quick fouls in the second half and went to the bench. But Higgins took control and scored 10 straight points, keeping Colorado close until its all-Big 12 guard got back in the game.

Kelly's tip-in and Will Spradling's 3-pointer sliced Colorado's lead to 70-69 before Marcus Relphorde hit a 3-pointer from the baseline. After Spradling's driving layup cut it to 73-72, Burks went to the line and hit both ends of a 1-and-1.

With 1:23 to go, Kansas State inbounded the ball and Spradling put up a 3-pointer that missed. Burks batted away Rodney McGruder's follow attempt and Devon Peterson was called for a foul. Relphorde, with 59.9 seconds to go, made both foul shots for a 77-72 lead. Roberson made a foul shot and Higgins made two before Roberson's layup gave the Buffs, a longtime Big 12 doormat, a comfortable lead.

"We made some bad decisions," Pullen said. "It's the same thing that plagued us when we weren't doing well in the Big 12. We were undisciplined, we gave up some easy shots and we made some bad decisions on offense and it cost us the game. At this time of year, you can't have those type of breakdowns or those type of lapses, or you'll never be able to beat a good team."

Earlier, with Burks on the bench, Higgins hit two free throws, Pullen canned a 3-pointer for a 55-50 lead, and then Higgins went inside for a contested bucket and followed that with a driving layup that cut the lead to 55-54.

After Peterson scored for Kansas State, Higgins answered with another basket.

Levi Knutson's two foul shots and long 3-pointer put Colorado on top 61-57.

The Wildcats tied it 62-all on Pullen's 3-pointer, then Higgins hit a fallaway jumper and followed that with a driving layup. Burks, with just his second bucket of the second half, tipped in a shot and Higgins made a floater in the lane, capping an 8-2 run for a 70-64 lead with 3:31 to play.

Comments

riverdrifter 3 years, 7 months ago

"We beat a great team three times," Higgins said. "It can't be a fluke all three times."

Yeah, well, a "great" team that finished in 4th place in the conference.

Next.

ahpersecoachingexperience 3 years, 7 months ago

I don't think the DVD of this game is going to sell!

KU_Mitch 3 years, 7 months ago

to astonish; astound; amaze,to shock; overwhelm,etc. You could have looked it up.

100 3 years, 7 months ago

In terms of all-time wins in the Big 12, suddenly KSU in one game went from tied for 4th place to 6th place.

We need to play some tough D & pass the ball like it's a laser tomorrow. CU will be fired up.

Great job by Tad Boyle & his players today....

Tomorrow our Jayhawks should be a little more ready for some desperate ballers wearing different colored jerseys....

Rock Chalk

waywardJay 3 years, 7 months ago

Can you believe this Colorado team is stil on the bubble ? 3 wins versus K-state, 1-0 versus Texas, 1-1 versus mizzou, lost to am by 3 in OT. Apparently a loss to Iowa State is big enough to darken their at large hopes.

KU_FanSince75 3 years, 7 months ago

I wanted the Jayhawks to play K-State. Hey, it's March Madness. I can't be picky. Colorado will have motivation. Hope the Hawks play better Friday night. Good luck with Colorado, guys!

bbhawk234 3 years, 7 months ago

Just watch the seedings will have Kstate in our side of the bracket possibly a sweet sixteen matchup or great 8 matchup. It happended last year. Which it is good that we will not play them so we will have that ticked off mentality.

100 3 years, 7 months ago

Well Tad Boyle beat the Purples 3 times this year....

And Self beat the Purples once....

So all told, could we agree the Jayhawks beat the Purples 4 times this year?

jhox 3 years, 7 months ago

Colorado has the best guard tandem in the country, and one of the best college guard tandems I've ever seen. I saw them live for the first time today. Burks is absolutely unreal. His speed with the ball is just crazy. At one point today he missed a lay-up, only to somehow get back in position and jump up to finish off his missed lay up on the other side of the rim. He had taken two steps and jumped again, before his original shot had a chance to roll off of the rim. My buddy and I looked at each other like "What on Earth did we just witness?"

The good thing for KU is that they'll be playing for a third straight day tomorrow. Hopefully they won't have their legs like they had them today.

KGphoto 3 years, 7 months ago

I've been watching Higgins for years at The Coors Events Center. He's made so many great plays, but they needed a coach to bring it together. You know, somebody with the right bloodlines. Hehe.

Burks ripped off the performance of the year yesterday. Talk about good timing. They are playing great ball right now, and they are definitely for real.

I hope you're right about their legs. Thankfully, we matchup well against them.

johnnyphoton 3 years, 7 months ago

They're getting good now that they're leaving the Big 12. It won't be hard to root for the Buffs next year.

Scott Smetana 3 years, 7 months ago

Bummer... I would have liked to have played KSU. I still believe if KSU plays their best, they could be a top 3 team in the country. Too bad they've never had consistency. CU may have awesome guards, but boy are they lacking down low.

milehighhawk 3 years, 7 months ago

Want to know the difference between this and a KSU board?

Every single post so far has only mentioned how good Colorado is playing right now, etc.

Role reversal: KU loses today and KSU wins - wildcats would be crawling all over the boards, talking trash ad nauseum.

Rock Chalk

TopCityHawk 3 years, 7 months ago

I really like the picture used to punctuate what a crappy feeling getting knocked out of the BXII quaterfinals must feel like. Doesn't look like nearly the same team that was dancing around before the game (1:38 mark of the Thomas Robinson post-game interview available @ http://www.kansascity.com/sports/ )

jaycard 3 years, 7 months ago

The Buffs are for real. We have to hit them hard inside an guard the perimeter aggressively. Darn, the Cats are heading home and the Tiggers are down by 20 early in the 2d half. No trolls tonight, they're done for the year,or at least KU loses.(If we do). What a pathetic excuse for a legitimate contender the striped pussycats are.

jaycard 3 years, 7 months ago

The Buffs are for real. We have to hit them hard inside an guard the perimeter aggressively. Darn, the Cats are heading home and the Tiggers are down by 20 early in the 2d half. No trolls tonight, they're done for the year,or at least KU loses.(If we do). What a pathetic excuse for a legitimate contender the striped pussycats are.

PhogAdvisory 3 years, 7 months ago

Wow, it's almost like Tad Boyle really loves to beat KSU or something. Can't imagine where he gets that from. ;)

taucetiman 3 years, 7 months ago

Okay here is my troll comment to spread onto any k-state site you people can find

"remember, you can't spell Martin without N, I and T"

taucetiman 3 years, 7 months ago

Okay here is my troll comment to spread onto any k-state site you people can find

"remember, you can't spell Martin without N, I and T"

floridajayhawks 3 years, 7 months ago

I don't think this is a "stun", they beat them 3 times this year.

alor 3 years, 7 months ago

Maybe KSU should lose those awful gray 'home' uniforms. They make the players just disappear on the court and they are really depressing to look at.

BigAl 3 years, 7 months ago

Let's see. The all time football records of KSU vs KU is ----what is it -- oh yeah NOT EVEN CLOSE. Even recently, over the past 5 or 6 games it is about even.

Bill Snyder vs Bill Self. In all those glory years, Snyder won ONE conference championship. Self has one the last 7 IN A ROW. Again, not even close.

100 3 years, 7 months ago

The only rival we have is Missouri. Sorry.

We think Bill is pretty good too.

We support you guys just like any other Big 12 team...

Besides Mizzou.

I've always thought Wichita State would make a better rival for both the Shockers & the Cats.

Due to what a few from Missouri did to Lawrence way back when, there's really no way you guys can surpass them.

Wichita State needs a rival & so do you.

Get those wheels spinnin...

kcglowboy 3 years, 7 months ago

Is it too late to send Texas Tech to the Pac 10/12, and keep Colorado? They give us a better chance of winning a football game each year, and all of a sudden they're a much more compelling league foe in basketball. And, of course, it gives our fans out west one chance a year to attend a game! :-)

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