A Big Step Toward The Big Dance

The University of Colorado took a huge step Weds. night to acheiving their goal of an invitation to the NCAA tournament. Despite playing without their leading scorer Michel Morandais, the Buffs took it to #20 Oklahoma State 68-56 for their record setting 11th win in a row at home.

BOULDER, Colo. (AP) - Colorado's best run at home has the Buffaloes eyeing their first trip to the NCAA tournament in seven years.

David Harrison had 14 points and 16 rebounds as Colorado beat No. 20 Oklahoma State 68-56 Wednesday night to set a school record with its 11th straight home win.

"If we don't get selected, I think someone's paid somebody," Harrison said.

Colorado (18-10, 8-7 Big 12) played without leading scorer Michel Morandais because of a sprained ankle, but still improved its home record to 12-1. The Buffaloes are 7-0 in the conference at home, including victories over Texas, Kansas and Missouri.

Stephane Pelle added 14 points and 11 rebounds for Colorado, which has won six of nine overall to improve its chances of reaching the NCAA tournament.

Colorado has one game left, at home against Nebraska on Saturday, before the Big 12 tournament.

"In my mind, I don't see any reason why we wouldn't (go)," Colorado coach Ricardo Patton said. "I don't think there's a question."

Oklahoma State (20-8, 9-6) continued its late-season struggles in its first trip to Boulder since 10 members of the program died in a plane crash two years ago.

Two players and eight others were killed after a game against Colorado on Jan. 27, 2001, when one of three planes carrying the team's traveling party crashed in a storm about 40 miles outside Denver.

Oklahoma State shot 32 percent - many were way off the mark - to lose three straight for the first time since 1998-99. Ivan McFarlin had 13 points and 11 rebounds to lead the Cowboys, who have lost seven of 10 following a 17-1 start.

"I just don't know," McFarlin said. "We started at the top of the hill and now we're starting to fade away."

The game was marred by a fight that broke out after fans rushed the court to celebrate the victory. A man who appeared to be a student had to be carried off on a stretcher after he was hit several times in the face.

Blood, coming from the man's nose and a large cut over his left eye, covered his face, hands and a section of the floor. Another man, also thought to be a student, was arrested.

Oklahoma State cut Colorado's five-point halftime lead to 31-30 on a vicious dunk by Tony Allen that left the backboard shaking for about 30 seconds.

It would be as close as the Cowboys would get.

Colorado answered with a 10-0 run, capped by Blair Wilson's 3-pointer that hit the front of the rim and bounced in to take a 43-30 lead with 16 minutes left.

The Cowboys kept trying to chip away at the lead, but couldn't shoot straight enough to mount any kind of run.

Oklahoma State shot 9-of-29 in the second half, and it got so bad that McFarlin missed an open layup midway through.

"It wasn't that they weren't trying," Oklahoma State coach Eddie Sutton said.

The Cowboys had trouble with Colorado's aggressive man-to-man defense from the start.

Oklahoma State opened the game 2-for-13 from the field and went more than six minutes without a field goal midway through the first half.

The Cowboys missed eight straight shots and had three turnovers before Melvin Sanders banked in a 25-foot 3-pointer at the shot clock buzzer with 11:10 left.

Colorado wasn't much better.

The Buffaloes went on an 8-0 run to go up 10-7 during Oklahoma State's dry spell, but they were just 4-for-14 from the field over the first 10 minutes.

Colorado bounced back with an 11-3 run to take a 31-26 halftime lead.

Allen, Oklahoma State's second-leading scorer, was 1-for-10 for two points in the first and finished 2-for-13 with nine points.

"I thought our defense was as good as it's been all year long," Patton said.


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