Buffs bear down to beat Cal

Alec Burks and Cory Higgins combined to score 47 points and lead Colorado to a second round victory in the National Invitation Tournament over California on Friday at the Coors Events Center. The Buffs scored 52 points in the second half and won 89-72.

The win was the 23rd this season for the Buffs setting a school record and a new standard for the Colorado program in the future.

The Buffs will host either Fairfield or Kent State on Tuesday evening in what will be the final home game of the year. If the top-seeded Buffs win, they will advance to the NIT semifinals in the New York and Madison Square Garden next weekend.

"That is the carrot that is dangling out there," coach Tad Boyle said. "Tonight's carrot was 23 wins and putting ourselves in the history books of Colorado basketball. Tuesday's carrot is going to be Madison Square Garden."

The Buffs and Bears were locked in a close game until early in the second half when Cal point guard Jorge Gutierrez, a product of Denver's Lincoln High School, went down with a leg injury and had someone fall on his head giving him a concussion.

Gutierrez was leading Cal with 16 points at the time. Without him on the floor, the Bears lacked the scoring to keep up with CU. The Buffs scored 52 points in the second half.

"It was a big blow," Boyle said. "He is the heart and soul of that team."

Alec Burks led the Buffs in scoring for the second consecutive game with 25 points. He is averaging 26 points in the NIT so far. Cory Higgins finished with 22 points. He is averaging 23.5 points in the tournament so far. Levi Knutson chipped in 10 and was the only other Buff to score in double figures.

Perhaps the most impressive statistic of the evening was Colorado committing just five turnovers and not committing its first until its 50th possession of the night.

"That is a pretty special stat right there," Boyle said.

The game was a preview of Colorado's future in the Pac-12 Conference. The Buffs are 2-0 against their future conference opponents this season also having beaten Oregon State.

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