"That was a heck of a Big 12 game," coach Tad Boyle said.
The Buffs only shot 37 percent from the field and only had eight assists. Grinding out the offense, buckling down on defense and owning the boards are what led to the victory. The Buffs were able to out-rebound the Cowboys by 15, led by Alec Burks' 11. Getting to the free throw line offset the Buffs' struggle from the floor, where they shot 34-39 for the game.
"It's what you play for," senior Cory Higgins said about the sellout crowd at the game.
Higgins put a show on for the fans, leading the Buffs with 23 points while going 10-for-10 from the free throw line. Higgins knows this game wasn't won on the offensive end of the floor.
"If we're gonna win, we have to play defense and rebound," he said, "When the ball goes up… hit a body."
The Buffs came out a little unfocused in the first half. The Buffs only shot 25 percent from the field and only had four assist while committing 10 turnovers. They were able to stay in the game by getting to the free throw line, where they went 17-for-18, led by a perfect 8-for-8 from Higgins.
The Buffs got through the first half on the backs of their stars. Higgins had 14 points and Burks almost had a double-double with nine points and seven rebounds.
Each team was going at each other in the first half, and they always had an answer for one another. The two teams wouldn't let the game get out of control in the first half, always providing an answer on the opposite end. The two teams were never separated by more than six points.
After sitting on the bench after committing two early fouls, Marshall Moses came in the second half looking to establish himself. Moses had eight points less than 3 minutes into the half and a kick out three for Ray Penn. Keiton Page hit another three on the next possession to push the lead to 12.
After a timeout, Higgins came in and hit a three, following with a 17-foot jump shot on the next possession. Life was back in building and Oklahoma State was forced to take a timeout. The two quick baskets by Higgins sparked an 18-4 run by the Buffs over the next 9 minutes, capped off by Austin Dufault layup off a no-look pass from Burks, giving the Buffs a two point lead with less than 6 minutes left.
Jean-Paul Olukemi scored nine points in the final three minutes for Oklahoma State, but the Buffs stayed strong at the free throw line shooting 13 of 16 in the final minutes of the game. A dunk by Marcus Relphorde with 2 minutes left was the only field goal for the Buffs in the last 5:57 of the game.
Marcus was the difference in the game," said coach Boyle about his senior forward.
Relphorde had 14 points and five rebounds in 29 minutes. Relphorde went a perfect 6-6 from the free throw line. His ability to hold his own in the post and keep Matt Pilgrim and Darrell Williams from getting a lot of touches in the post is what Boyle is looking to get out of him, "Marcus is playing at a high level."
Burks came out trying to score as many points as he did last Saturday, "I was forcing it a little."
Burks came out the second half and let the offense come to him. Burks shot 2-3 while focusing on getting to the rim. Burks got to the line eight times in the second half, making seven.
Freshman Andre Roberson came off the bench and played big minutes tonight. Roberson had seven points and eight rebounds in 25 minutes. The majority of Roberson's minutes came in the second half, playing a key part in the run that got the Buffs the lead back and playing great post defense to make sure they came out on top.
"It gives me a lot of confidence knowing that coach depends on me," Roberson said about playing big minutes down the stretch.
Tad Boyle became the first Colorado coach to win his first three games in conference play. The Buffs improve 14-4 and sit atop the Big 12 with the first full week of conference play over.