Buffaloes Rally Past Longhorns

BOULDER, Colo. — Throughout Big 12 Conference play, Texas players have talked about the need to finish strong. Saturday, a poor second half showing doomed the Longhorns for the second time in three games, with Colorado fans celebrating a 91-89 win the same way Nebraska did its victory — by rushing the court.

The defeat knocks the Longhorns to 24-5 to the season and 12-2 in the Big 12, forcing a tie for first place with Kansas, which defeated Oklahoma Saturday. Should both teams win out, they would split the league title, with Texas taking the No. 1 seed at the Big 12 Tournament. But that's far from a set fact, with Texas heading into tough challenges at home Monday against Kansas State and at Baylor on Saturday, while Kansas will play Texas A&M and rival Missouri.

Saturday's game appeared to be business as usual early. Using resplendent shooting from man-of-the-half J'Covan Brown, the Longhorns surged to a 22-point lead, one that dwindled slightly to 15 points at halftime. Texas shot almost 56 percent for the half, including better than 46 percent from behind the three-point line and hit 4-of-5 free throws.

But there were signs that all wasn't well, headlined by Colorado's smooth shooting half of their own. What could have been a worse game was eased somewhat by Colorado shooting 48.3 percent themselves, well above the 36.9 percent the Longhorns allow in the average conference game.

In the second half, the tables turned. Texas cooled considerably, shooting just 29.4 percent from the field, while Colorado upped its field goal percentage to 58.1 percent, while making 6-of-13 three-pointers. The Buffaloes roared back from a double-digit deficit, thanks in large part to Alec Burks, who scored 33 points — 24 in the second half — grabbed 10 rebounds and dished out four assists.

The comeback, believed to be the largest in school history, was largely the result of a 24-3 Colorado run. After getting out-rebounded in the first half 18-14, Colorado dominated the Big 12's top rebounding squad 29-21 in the second stanza. Colorado's 53.3 overall field goal percentage marked the first time all season that the Longhorns allowed an opponent to shoot better than 50 percent.

Colorado led by 11 points at one point, up 78-67 before Texas displayed its typical never-say-die attitude, cutting the lead to two at 88-86. Burks hit two free throws, then Higgins added another. Cory Joseph drained a harmless three at the buzzer to cut the margin of victory down.

Levi Knutson scored 21 points for the Buffaloes, while Cory Higgins put in an efficient 11. Andre Roberson had a typical stat-stuffing game, scoring nine, grabbing 11 rebounds, dishing out five assists and blocking two shots.

Brown scored 21 points and had four rebounds and five assists in 27 minutes. Jordan Hamilton added 21 points and seven boards, while Gary Johnson had 17 and seven and Tristan Thompson chipped in 16 and eight. Joseph had 12 points and five assists.

The game gives Colorado (18-11, 7-7) a decent chance to slip into the NCAA Tournament with a hot finish. The Buffaloes have some bad losses, dropping games to Harvard, San Francisco and Oklahoma. But they also have statement wins over Texas, Missouri and Kansas State (twice). With wins in their final two conference games over Iowa State and Nebraska, along with a win or two in the Big 12 Tournament, Colorado can make a decent case for a trip to the dance.

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