Earlier this week I highlighted four must win games for Jeff Bzdelik and the Colorado Buffaloes (12-13, 3-8) to show progress.Part one of the four win plan is complete. Wednesday night, the Buffs took advantage of an underachieving Oklahoma Sooners (13-12, 4-7) team to win their 12th game of the year 77 - 67. Colorado is now 11 - 3 at the Coors Event Center in Boulder.
The Buffs got out to a 27 - 20 lead off a balanced scoring attack from G Cory Higgins, G Alec Burks, F Marcus Relphorde and F Austin Dufault. OU made a small run behind guards Willie Warren and Tommy Mason-Griffin, trimming the Buffs lead to three at halftime, 33 - 30. Warren, who was diagnosed with mono earlier last week, came off the bench to score 19 points for the Sooners, equaling the effort of Mason-Griffin for a game high.
But while the Sooners had two double digit scorers, the Buffs produced four, with guard Nate Tomlinson having a great second half, scoring 10 of his 13 after the break, grabbing eight rebounds and only turning the ball over twice. It was one of Tomlinson's better halves as a Buff. The Colorado big three - Burks, Relphorde and Higgins - also came up big in the second half scoring 48 of the Buffs' 77 points between them. Burks had an extremely efficient game, missing only one shot from the field enroute to a 17 point night. In all 24 games Burks has finished this year, he has scored double-digits. The only game this year the freshman hasn't scored 10+ was against Iowa St., a game he left in the opening minutes with a leg injury and never returned.
The Buffs leading scorer, Cory Higgins, had a relatively slow start but came on strong in the second half, leading the way with 18 points on 7 of 17 from the field. Marcus Relphorde was also very impressive putting in 13 points, grabbing 10 boards to go along with 6 assists.
What will make most Buff fans smile is the home squad out-rebounded Oklahoma 33 - 30, turned the ball over 7 times compared to OU's 11 and held the Sooners to only 10 assists. Across the board, the Buffs outplayed the visiting team.
With the win, the Buffs stop a four game losing streak and now head to Kansas for a game Saturday against the #1 ranked team in the nation. Colorado took the Jayhawks to overtime in the first meeting this season in Boulder before KU outlasted the Buffs 72 - 66.