With Selection Sunday right around the corner, the Buffs keep increasing their chances for a NCAA Tournament bid.
After a vengeful win against Iowa State on Wednesday night, the Buffs had momentum on their side as they took down the No.23 Kansas State Wildcats Thursday, 87-75.
Thursday’s win marks the No.5 tournament-seeded Buffaloes’ third defeat of the No.4 seeded Wildcats this season, making a clean sweep of the series for the first time since 2003-04 season.
Senior guard Cory Higgins led in scoring with a game-best 28 points, 19 of which came in the last 20 minutes. Sophomore guard Alec Burks ended with 24 points. Freshman guard Andre Roberson earned a double-double with 11 points and 14 rebounds, and senior forward Marcus Relphorde scored 10.
CU was slow to take charge against the Wildcats, falling behind by seven points with 12:35 to go in the first half (21-14). The Buffs were able to rally to a 35-31 lead, their largest lead of the half, but were outscored by the Wildcats in the final 1:30, trailing 39-37 at halftime.
The score remained tight for much of the second half. The Wildcats pulled ahead 52-48 on a three-pointer and a free throw with 14:12 left in the game, but the Buffs stayed within reach.
Kansas State gained their biggest lead of the half at 55-50, but Higgins quickly brought the score back to 55-54. With 9:12 left in the game, senior guard Levi Knutson gave the Buffs the lead with a pair of free throws.
From then on, the Wildcats could not regain the lead.
Led by Higgins, the Buffs held onto the advantage except for a brief tie at 62-62.
The game remained close, though, as the Wildcats stayed within four points. With three minutes to go, a three-pointer by Kansas State’s Will Spradling brought the score to 70-69. Relphore then hit a thee-pointer, but Spradling responded with four more points, keeping the score within one at 73-72.
The Buffs, however, were not about to give up their ticket to the Big Dance.
Burks and Relphorde each made a pair of free throws, and Roberson added one more with 53 seconds to go, making the score 78-72.
In the last minute, a pair of free throws from Higgins, a layup from Roberson, two foul shots from Burks and a three from Relphorde sealed the deal.
Defeating the Wildcats 87-75, the Buffs earned a spot at the semifinals of the Big 12 Tournament for the first time. This will be the last, as they say goodbye to the Big 12 Conference next season.
The Buffs take on the top-seeded Kansas Jayhawks Friday night in the semifinals. If they win, their chances at securing a spot in the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2003 will be even stronger.
Contact CU Independent Staff Writer Caryn Maconi at Caryn.email@example.com.