Unlike the Nebraska Cornhuskers, the Colorado Buffaloes will not be one-and-done in the 2011 Big 12 Tournament, defeating the Iowa St. Cyclones, 77-75. It was a nail-biter for the Buffs, having to come back with 1:45 left in the game. The Cyclones led 72-71 at that point, but an Alec Burks two-pointer and three successful free throws from Andrew Roberson and Cory Higgins put the Buffs up, 77-73. Iowa State's Jake Anderson made a layup with three seconds left in the game, but the Cyclones were unable to anything else.
Sophomore guard Alec Burks had a huge game, scoring 29 points and grabbing 15 rebounds. He made 11 of his 14 free throws. He dished the ball out for six assists and stole three boards, too. Burks was named All-Big 12 First Team earlier in the week. Freshman Andre Roberson contributed mightily off the bench with 15 rebounds, seven on the offensive end. Cory Higgins added 16 points.
The Buffs had to contend with the Cyclones' Jake Anderson and his 33 points, who missed the last shot of the game.
The Buffs play the Kansas St. Wildcats on Thursday at 1:00 p.m. MT. The Big 12 Network will have the broadcast.
The Colorado Buffaloes are on the cusp of making the NCAA Tournament field of 64 65 68. In order to secure their spot they need a good showing in the Big 12 Tournament, which begins today when the Buffs face the Iowa St. Cyclones.
In order for the Buffs to guarantee themselves a Dance Card they not only need to win in their first round game today, but also make it past their second round opponent, the 4-seed Kansas St. Wildcats. Winning those two games, SHOULD give the NCAA selection committee reason to believe CU is worthy of a shot at the NCAA crown. However a loss today against the lowly Clones is a certain way to get an NIT invite.
A great player can't carry a team through an NCAA Tournament to a title, but a great player can guide his team to a couple of wins in a conference tournament. Luckily for the Buffs they have a great player in Alec Burks. Burks was a unanimous First Team All Big 12 selection and is probably the most NBA ready player in the Big 12. Surrounded by complementary players like Cory Higgins and Levi Knutson, CU is a team that has the superstar to take the big shot, but the team chemistry to let others get them to that pivotal spot in the game.
For ISU, Diante Garrett is their superstar. Besides leading the team in scoring at 17.2 points per game, Garrett is a true point guard, pacing the Big 12 in assists per game at 6.1.
For the Buffs to continue onto tomorrow, they will need to get Burks good looks at the basket. The ISU guards are some of the best in the conference, but Burks has height on both Garrett and his backcourt mate Jake Anderson. If a forward is assigned to Burks, Burks will have the athleticism to get by them, and if it is one of the guards, Burks will have the height to go over the top of them.
The Buffs are only a 4.5 point favorite - which seems low for a 5 vs. 12 pairing - but should roll over the Clones.
The game tips this afternoon at 1:00 p.m. MT and can be seen on Altitude.