Buffs escape with win
CU Buff Alec Burks celebrates the Buffs' victory over Kansas State on Feb. 12, 2011 (Patrick Ghidossi, BuffaloSportsNews.net)
BuffaloSportsNews.net
Posted Feb 13, 2011


Kansas State's Rodney McGruder caught the ball with 1.1 seconds left on the clock. He turned and shot the ball over a stretched out Alec Burks. It hit nothing but the bottom of the net and all the life was sucked out of the sold out crowd at Coors Events Center.

It took a video replay to make sure the shot was just after the buzzer sounded and the building went crazy celebrating the Buffs' 58-56 win.

“It’s a terrible feeling, especially after Wednesday,” Cory Higgins said about watching the shot go through the net.

Colorado and Kansas State both entered the game with only four conference wins and both in need of a victory. Colorado was coming off an overtime loss to Texas A&M that was sent into overtime on a three at the buzzer. Kansas State had won three out of its last four after a slow start in conference play.

Alec Burks and Jacob Pullen, two of the top four scorers in the conference, had an awful shooting night. Burks went 3-13 for eight points while Pullen shot 4-12 and had 12 points.

Cory Higgins and Levi Knutson, starting his second straight game for Nate Tomlinson, picked up the scoring slack of Burks. Higgins scored 17 points, most of which came from the charity stripe (9-for-10). Knutson had 16 points on an efficient 5-8 from the field and a perfect 4-4 form the free-throw line.

This was one of the ugliest games that either team had played.

“It was the most unorthodox game I think I have played,” said Higgins, one of four seniors on the CU team.

There were a combined 47 fouls and 26 turnovers with only 14 assists. Eight players had four fouls or more. Marcus Relphorde and Andre Roberson both fouled out.

With all the fouls being called, coach Tad Boyle had to rely on his bench to play big minutes.

“I thought our guys that came off the bench were ready when their number was called,” Boyle said.

Shannon Sharpe came off the bench and played the best game of his career.

“I think those were the biggest minutes of his career,” Higgins and Boyle agreed after the game.

Sharpe scored eight points on 3-4 shooting in 21 minutes. Ben Mills also came off the bench and played nine minutes, the most he has played in conference play. Mills didn’t score or a grab a rebound but recorded two blocks. Mills had a huge block in the first half on Jordan Henriquez. It brought the crowd to their feet for the first time.

“I think that’s what started to get me going. It’s an adrenaline rush for me and I think it built some momentum in the game,” said Mills.

Colorado was only down two points at half despite shooting 28 percent and turning the ball over 11 times. There was a 7 minute, 7 second stretch where the Buffs didn’t score. They were able to stay in the game in the first half by rebounding and playing good defense.

Kansas State shot 24 percent in the first half and only out-rebounded Colorado by one.

“We guarded and rebounded,” Boyle said, “and that kept us in the game.”

Colorado started the second half with a three from Knutson, the team's first of the game, and quickly grabbed the lead from Kansas State. Colorado was able to stretch their lead to eight with 14 minutes remaining in the game. Burks picked up his fourth foul shortly thereafter and headed to the bench, where he remained for over 8 minutes. Kansas State went on a 12-4 run, tying the game with 11:32 remaining in the game.

With 1:42 left in the game, Burks grabbed a rebound and started a fast break only to dribble the ball off his own foot and out of bounds.

Jamar Samuels got a dunk on the next possession to give Kansas State a one point lead with 1:27 left.

On the next Colorado possession, Sharpe lost the ball trying to pass it to Higgins. After a few seconds of fighting for the ball, Burks came up with the loose ball and got fouled shooting the ball. Burks went to the line and made both free throws.

On the other end of the court, Pullen came off a ball screen and Burks got switched onto him with 20 seconds left on the shot clock. Thinking he could get around him, Pullen started to drive past Burks. Burks was able to knock the ball away from Pullen and finished with a tomahawk jam to put the Buffs up three with 30 seconds left.

Pullen took the ball to the basket for an easy layup on the next possession and fouled Knutson on the inbound. Knutson knocked both shots down to put the Buffs back up three.

Being up three points, Colorado decided to foul on the next Kansas State possession, something they were unable to do three nights earlier against A&M.

After Knutson fouled Pullen, Pullen made the first one and intentionally missed the second one. Higgins knocked the ball out of bounds to keep Will Spradling from grabbing the ball.

There was only 1.1 seconds left on the clock. Close to a 5-second call, McGruder was able to get free and catch the ball. His turn around three over Burks was just tenths of a second after the buzzer.

Burks may have not had his best night on the offensive but was able to pull down 10 rebounds, marking the sixth time in the last nine games he has led the Buffs in rebounding.

The Buffs have a week off before they go to Lawrence next week to take on the Jayhawks, who could be the number one team in the nation when rankings come out on Monday.



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