Rocky Mountain Low: Colorado Upends Texas, 93-80

Upstart Colorado crushed the No. 3 Texas men’s basketball team on the boards and held the visiting Horns without a field goal during the final 5:56 to post its second upset of a Top 10 team in as many home games, 93-80. Texas fell to 14-4 on the season, 5-2 in Big 12 play.

The Buffaloes (13-7, 3-4 Big 12) ended Kansas’ 23-game conference winning streak when the Jayhawks fell, 60-59, in Boulder on January 22. It was Texas’ first loss to Colorado during fifth year head coach Rick Barnestenure, as the Buffaloes ended the affair with a 13-0 run.

Colorado is one of those mid-level conference teams that play like gangbusters at home but are a bust on the road. Colorado is now 9-1 in the Coors Events Center, but 2-6 on the road. Entering Tuesday’s contest, the Buffs were shooting 50.8 percent at home and 39.3 on the road.

Still, the Horns have shown a propensity to grip during the final two minutes if the game is on the line (winnable contests against Kansas, Arizona and Notre Dame slipped through Texas’ hands, all with little more than 100 ticks on the clock). While Barnes said his team was beaten in every possible way, his team had its pocket picked 10 times, including two consecutive turnovers in the final two minutes, while trailing 83-80.

The difference in this one, though, was rebounding. The tall, physical Buffs out-muscled Texas to snag 20 offensive boards en route to a 45-35 rebounding edge.

Colorado went 8-of-13 from three-point range, including G Blair Wilson’s red-hot 5-of-10 showing from beyond the arch. But no shot was costlier than junior F Michel Morandais trey with the score knotted at 80 with 2:13 remaining. Playing aggressively with four fouls, Morandais answered his clutch shot with two steals. As Texas’ scoring drought continued, all the Burnt Orange could do was foul CU shooters as students prepared to storm the court.

With the crowd chanting "over-rated" and with Colorado’s piss-poor road record, you’d love to see these two meet again at the Big 12 Tournament in Dallas next month. The bottom line: Texas will be a Sweet Sixteen team while the Buffs are NIT-bound.

As it was, Texas saw its 12-point first half advantage dwindle to a slim 40-38 lead at the break. Junior G Royal Ivey’s 3-pointer (his first in Big 12 play) gave Texas a 20-13 lead in the early going. Junior G Brandon Mouton’s trey and sophomore T.J. Ford’s free throw gave Texas its largest first-half advantage at 31-19.

But Colorado responded with a 12-2 run, on the strength of back-to-back Morandais’ three-pointers. At this point, you knew it was going to be nip-and-tuck in a contest that finally saw 20 lead changes.

The Horns shot 42 percent from the field, while CU made good on 48 percent of its attempts (53 percent in the second half).

Texas connected on 5-of-16 from three-point range. Texas was 23-of-28 from the charity stripe while Colorado connected on 21-of-34 free throws. Both teams committed 10 turnovers.

Colorado placed four players in double figures, including Morandais with 24 and Wilson with 23. Mouton and Thomas each contributed 19 points, while Ford added 15 points and eight assists. F Jason Klotz and F Brad Buckman each had only two points apiece.

The loss dampened senior F Deginald Erskin’s return to the court after sitting out the conference season with an ankle injury.

The Horns travel to Texas A&M, Saturday, for a 7 p.m. tip-off (ESPN2) before returning home for a critical, critical, critical "Big Monday" showdown against No. 5 Oklahoma on ESPN (8 p.m., CST).

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