No. 1 seed and No. 2 ranked Kansas (30-2) advanced to the semifinals by beating Oklahoma State, 63-62, Thursday. The Jayhawks have won 30 games in four of the last five seasons.
Colorado (21-12, 8-8 Big 12) is coming off two victories in the Big 12
tournament over Iowa State (77-75) Thursday and No. 19 K-State (87-75)
Friday, its third straight win over KSU this season. CU rides a
three-game winning streak into its showdown with KU, and has now won
five of its last six games.
CU's dynamic duo of senior guard Cory Higgins (third-team All-Big 12)
and sophomore guard Alec Burks (unanimous first-team All-Big 12) led
the charge against the Wildcats, scoring 28 points and 24,
respectively, with Higgins scoring 19 of his 28 in the second half. He
and Burks combined to shoot 17-of-29 from the field and 15-of-17 from
the free-throw line. Freshman guard Andre Roberson also came up big
with 11 points and 14 rebounds.
The Buffs shot 58 percent from the field, including a scorching 64
percent in the second half. They also shot 66.7 (6-9) percent from
three-point range (6-9) and 85.2 percent (23-27) at the charity stripe.
Colorado held KSU to just 42.4 percent shooting, including 33.3 percent
in the second half, while outrebounding the Wildcats 35-29.
After K-State trimmed CU's lead to 73-72 in the final minutes, the
Buffs finished the game on a 14-2 run and advanced to the semifinals.
"I think the word that comes to my mind after this game is just pride,"
CU head coach and former Kansas player Tad Boyle said.
"Pride in what we represent, and most importantly pride in these young
men, because they battled tonight."
THIRD TIME'S A CHARM?
KU will be looking to beat CU for the third time this season. The
Jayhawks survived in Boulder, 82-78, on Jan. 25 before whipping the
Buffs, 89-63, in Allen Fieldhouse on Feb. 19. Freshman guard Josh Selby
led four Jayhawks in double figures in Boulder with 17 points, while
Burks scored 25 points and Higgins 19. KU dominated the boards, 37-23,
and outscored the Buffs 21-2 on second-chance points.
Markieff Morris led five ‘Hawks in double digits in Lawrence with a
career-high 26 points, while Burks paced Colorado with 15. KU shot
11-of-22 from three-point range and again crushed the Buffs on the
KU has beaten the Buffs 17 straight games with CU's last victory coming
KU & CU HUNGRY FOR MORE
CU has most likely locked up an NCAA berth, while KU is guaranteed a
No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament.
Still, both teams are hungry to win the Big 12 tournament.
"Two more games and we get the (championship)," Selby said after KU's
win over OSU. "That's all I want right now."
KU will be facing a CU team that's playing its third game in three days.
"It's not really that tough for me," said Burks, who scored 29 points
with 15 rebounds against Iowa State Wednesday and leads the team in
scoring at 20 points per game.
"I'm 19, so I'm young. I got a lot of legs under me. But I think we're
hungry, we've got the toughness, and we can bounce back and be ready
"We're here to win this tournament," senior guard Levi Knutson added.
Boyle knows it will be be a huge test against Kansas.
"They present a heck of a challenge," Boyle said. "I hope they shoot
from the perimeter tomorrow like they did today (KU shot just 5-of-25
from three-point range against Oklahoma State), because what makes them
so hard to guard is they've got inside post presence from multiple
guys. And they've got some pretty good capable shooters surrounding
"Our guys are ready for it (challenge). It's time for us, hey, let's go
ball, we know what we have to do, let's let it all hang out, we've got
nothing to lose, and we're going to be loose but we'll be ready."
Boyle doesn't talk to his team about the NCAA tournament, but certainly
likes CU's chances.
"I just know the kind of teams we've beaten in this league (Big 12),"
Boyle said. "And I know the fact that we've gone on the road in
preseason, everybody has bad losses, Colorado included. But we got some
great wins. I think this (win over KSU) is our sixth top 50 RPI win of
the year. I don't know how many, quote/unquote bubble teams have six
Boyle is extremely proud of what the Buffs have accomplished thus far.
"Yesterday (against ISU) we got our 20th win," Boyle said. "I think
that's the fifth time in 108 yeas of basketball at Colorado where
they've won 20 games. These young men are trying to make a statement
and leave their footprints in the sands of time. And the only way you
can do that is wear your work boots every single day and come to the
gym, like we came to the gym today ready to go. I'm extremely proud of
Boyle is also quite proud of Northern Colorado, the team he coached for
four years before coming to CU this season. The Bears (21-10) earned an
NCAA tournament bid for the first time in school history by beating
Montana Wednesday in the finals of the Big Sky tournament.
"It would be a great day on Sunday (Selection Sunday) if we both got
in," Boyle said.
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