Coach Boyle noticed how focused his seniors came into the game.
“When Marcus came out, the way Cory came out they were dialed in," Boyle said. "Levi hit some shots.”
Relphorde led the Buffs in scoring for the first time all season with 19 points. Knutson added 13 points including three from behind the arc. The most celebrated senior of the night, Higgins, had 12 points, three rebounds
and three assists. Higgins leaves Colorado having played more games than anybody else has in a Buffs uniform.
The three starting seniors were ready for their night. Higgins, Marcus Relphorde and Levi Knutson combined to score 26 of the 33 points in the first half.
The Buffs came out on a 9-0 run to start the game, stretching it to 14-3 before Nebraska coach Doc Sadler had to call a timeout.
“We wanted to come out and punch them in the
mouth,” said Higgins, “really turn up the defensive intensity.”
Nebraska came out in the second half looking to make adjustments and started with a 5-0 run to cut the lead to one but the Buffs answered with a 7-0 run of their own to push the lead back up to eight with just over 15 minutes remaining in the game.
After another quick 6-0 run by the Huskers, coach Boyle brought in his two seniors off the bench, Javon Coney and Trent Beckley. Beckley ended the Nebraska run with hook shot from the left block.
“That was a big play for us,” fellow senior Knutson said.
Coney missed a put back a few possessions later that Relphorde finished off with a tip-in.
Back and forth from both teams kept the game tight throughout the second half. Boyle called a timeout after a Nebraska cut the lead to four with less than 6 minutes left. He drew up a play for Knutson, who knocked down the open 3-pointer. Andre Roberson followed up the next possession with a tip in.
All of a sudden the lead was back to nine and the Buffs never looked back.
Thanks to clutch free throw shooting down the stretch, Colorado held on for the 10-point victory.
Colorado never let Nebraska closer than one point, keeping the lead the entire game.
Nebraska brought the 12th ranked defense into Boulder to slow down the Buffs’ 13th ranked offense. Nebraska was able to slow down the Buffs enough to keep them 13 points below their season average but the Buffs defense forced 15 turnovers.
Nebraska struggled from the free throw line shooting 7-for-15, including three trips where it missed both attempts.
Alec Burks had a rough game tonight. He only shot 3-for-11 from the field and only grabbed two rebounds. He finished with just 12 points, well below his season average.
The student section was chanting “One more season...” when Burks stepped to the free-throw line throughout the game. Burks can go pro after this season, with the possibility of being drafted high in the first round.
With the win tonight, Colorado finished in fifth place in the conference with an 8-8 record.
“It’s great (to finish 5th in the conference), especially when they picked you to finish 9th,” said Boyle.
The Buffs will play Iowa State next Wednesday next in Kansas City. Iowa State beat the Buffs this past Wednesday in Ames. Colorado didn’t come out prepared for the Cyclones.
“We laid an egg,” coach Boyle said about his team’s performance.