Down 24 - 8 with 9:22 left in the first half, Buff fans were talking about this being one of the tougher days in Colorado sports history. Earlier in the day, the Colorado football program capped off, at least on paper, a less than exciting recruiting class that finished 65th in the rivals.com rankings, dead last in the Big 12 and behind in-state rival Colorado State.
As for the basketball program, we have seen some glimpses this year but with top freshman guard Alec Burks out with a leg injury suffered in the previous game against Iowa State, a visit from the #1 ranked Kansas Jayhawks seemed like a blowout loss. At least that is what Buffs fans have been used to with it's top two sports programs recently. But the Jeff Bzdelik and the Buffs' team gave us fans something to cheer about without arguably their best player at home in front of a packed house in Boulder.
Colorado for the first 40 minutes out-rebounded the Kansas Jayhawks, something that is unheard of out of this team as they ranked 319th in rebounding margin coming into the game. Marcus Relphorde had an outstanding night, scoring 18 points and grabbing 11 boards, playing the role of the second scoring option usually held by Burks. Buff star Cory Higgins had a tough night for the Buffs, only going 4 - 15 from the field. Off the bench, Levi Knutson added 13 with an efficient 5 - 8 from the floor.
Colorado had the lead 60 - 59 late in the game but Kansas G Sherron Collins tied the game at 60 with 37 seconds remaining. The Buffs essentially had the last shot of the game but a poorly designed play out of a timeout led to a desperation three by Higgins to avoid a shot clock violation that failed to catch any rim. Their was certainly some bizarre shot selection towards the end of the game that ended up hurting the Buffs. The game went into overtime, Kansas got off to a good start and the Buffs couldn't claw their way back in it. Collins and Cole Aldrich both scored 16 to lead the Jayhawks.
Both teams shot terribly at the free throw line. Colorado went 10 - 17 (58.8%) while Kansas went 18 - 38 (47.4%) in what looked like a fatigued team from Lawrence.
Still, Jeff Bzdelik had his team ready to play without Burks who averages 16.3 points per game against the top ranked team. They had the Coors Event Center rocking and Buffs fans cheering.
We haven't been able to say that for a while.