Colorado 79, Kansas State 75

Colorado maintained its poise following what appeared at first to be a serious injury to guard Marcus Hall late in the game, and the Buffs beat Kansas State 79-75 in Boulder Saturday night. Colorado is in second place in the Big 12, just one-half game behind Texas.

Marcus Hall went down hard at the 2:02 mark in the midst of a 5-on-3 fast break. Play stopped for several minutes and the crowd of 8,074 quieted as the 6-1 junior lay flat on his back on the court in front of the Colorado bench. Hall, who had been suffering back spasms earlier in the day, had what team officials said was a severe lumbar muscle strain.

Trainers quickly summoned two team doctors when they realized it could be a serious injury and two paramedics brought out a stretcher. Hall was placed onto the stretcher and rolled out, his arms folded across his chest and his eyes closed. The student section began chanting "Win for Marcus!"

He was taken to a hospital for examination, and head coach Ricardo Patton said after the game that Hall was coherent during the ordeal. Initial tests were negative for any damage, and Hall had movement. Hall was put into a brace and strapped to the stretcher for precautionary reasons.

Colorado led 75-68 when Hall went down. Despite a turnover and some faulty free-throw shooting in the final two minutes, the Buffs hung on for the victory.

Patton said he spoke to the team when Hall lay on the ground and challenged them to finish the game strong with Hall headed for the hospital.

"If you can't fight for a fallen comrade, you're in the wrong sport," Patton said about what he told his players.

And the game was a fight from beginning to end. Kansas State (now 12-5 overall, 3-3 in conference) was among the most physical teams the Buffs have played this season.

"They like to bump you around and use their bodies, and they're one of the best defensive teams in the conference," said Richard Roby, who led CU in scoring with 18 points.

After earning his second personal foul at the 8:13 mark in the first half, Roby sat on the bench until halftime. CU was up by six points when he left the game, but Kansas State caught the Buffs near the break and the two teams were tied at 35 a piece going into the locker room.

Senior Chris Copeland came out of mild offensive slump during the game. After scoring 11 total points in CU's last two outings, he scored eight of the team's first 11 points in the second half. Though Kansas State would never catch Colorado, they pulled to within one point with 7:12 to play. Copeland scored six points down the stretch as CU held Kansas State at bay.

Copeland ended with a solid line: 17 points, seven rebounds and four blocks. But Patton was reluctant to give the post player much praise.

"He likes to think he's ‘Magic,' but we call him ‘Tragic,'" Patton said afterwards, with a grinning Copeland sitting beside him.

There was a method to the coach's madness: Patton doesn't want Copeland or his teammates to rest on their laurels, which include a 15-3 overall record and 5-2 mark in the conference. He wants them humble and hungry.

"We've got to get better — that's the theme for this team," Patton said.

Perhaps no one played a better game for Colorado than Hall, who started in place of Antoine McGee. McGee had started the past four games, but didn't see any action Saturday.

Hall logged a team-high 34 minutes and continuously put pressure on the K-State defense on the fast break and in the half-court offense. He scored 12 points on 4-of-9 shooting, grabbed five boards and handed out seven assists.

THE NUMBERS
Colorado

Points: Richard Roby 18
Rebounds: Chris Copeland, Martane Freeman 7
Assists: Marcus Hall 7
Turnovers: Dominique Coleman 3
Blocks: Copeland 4
Steals: Freeman 2

Kansas State
Points: Cartier Martin 24
Rebounds: Martin 9
Assists: Lent Stewart 8
Turnovers: three with 2
Blocks: four with 1
Steals: two with 1

THE NOTES
Colorado invited former NBA player Mike Newlin to Wednesday's practice to help the team work on free throws. Newlin played in the pros for 11 seasons and his 87.0 percent lifetime average is still No. 18 all-time in free-throw percentage. On Saturday, the Buffs shot 70.4 percent from the foul line (19-27), 13 percentage points better than their season average. But they came up short in the clutch as Freeman, Coleman and Roby combined to shoot 4 of 8 from the line in the final 45 seconds. … This was the first game of the season where foul trouble was an issue for Colorado. Along with Roby, Julius Ashby and Marcus King-Stockton got into foul trouble early. …Prior to the final 10 minutes of the game, the loudest cheer from the crowd was for new Colorado football coach Dan Hawkins. Hawk went to center court during a timeout in the first half, much to the crowd's pleasure. When the roar had finally settled, Hawkins challenged the basketball fans to fill the arena the rest of the season and send the Buffs to the tournament. It was obvious that the Colorado fans have already fallen for Hawk Love. …Like the CU football players do after they win, the basketball players gathered near the student section at game's end and sang the CU Fight Song with the students. …CU plays next on Feb. 5 (noon tip) at Iowa State.


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