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Buffs Fall at SMU, 70-67

Jan 5, 2009

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DALLAS – Dwight Thorne II scored 18 points and freshman Austin Dufault added 13, however the SMU Mustangs ran to a 70-67 victory, Monday night.


The Buffs dropped their third straight game, falling to 7-6 while SMU improved to 5-7.


"We're just not deep enough," said CU head coach Jeff Bzdelik on the AM 760 post-game radio show. "I wish I had confidence in our bench, but people don't see what I see in practice. They need to step up and help because we run out of gas and get a step slow in parts of the game and that hurts us.


"I'm proud of my team, they're just young and they need to keep battling and not lose their confidence. You can't expedite experience, it just has to happen."


CU received balanced scoring as five players hit double-digits. In addition to Thorne, who also hit a career-high four three-pointers, and Dufault, Cory Higgins recorded 11, freshman Nate Tomlinson and senior Jermyl Jackson-Wilson added 10 apiece.


The Mustangs jumped out to an early lead in the second half but Colorado closed in on SMU's lead. At 2:01, a Jackson-Wilson layup pushed the Buffs to within four points at 64-60. With under one minute remaining, Higgins hit a three-pointer but with 00:17 to play, however SMU's Bamba Fall hit two free throw shots.


A Tomlinson jumper with 0:08 remaining closed the gap to 69-67, but a free throw shot by Fall ended the game. Tomlinson attempted a three-pointer at the buzzer to tie, but hit the side of the iron. 


The Buffs had not placed five players in double-digit scoring since Dec. 29, 2007 against Grambling State.


Dufault was also productive on the boards, grabbing a team-high seven rebounds. Higgins and Tomlinson added six and five, respectively. The Mustangs out-rebounded CU, 38-37, however the game was won at the free throw line where SMU went 21-of-29, while CU only shot 10-of-11.

CU was called for 23 fouls, the Mustangs were only whistled 13 times.


Higgins broke the Big 12 and school record with 40-consecutive free throws over the last seven games. Tonight he made all four his free throws. Ironically, Higgins' free throws were the 39th and 40th CU points scored.


The previous Big 12 record for consecutive free throws made was 39 (Joey Graham, OSU, 2004-05). The CU record was 39, Rob Gonzalez, Jan. 10-Feb. 26, 1983 (13 games).


Colorado shot 45.3 percent (24-of-53) from the field while SMU hit 21-of-51 (41.2 percent).The Buffs entered the game with the 15th best field goal percentage in the nation (.492).


The Mustangs led by as much as nine during the first half, but two three-pointers by redshirt-sophomore Casey Crawford and Dufault and a jumper by Higgins narrowed SMU's lead to one point with 4:18 remaining in the first half. Crawford hit a jumper at the buzzer to take a 33-32 half-time lead. CU is 4-1 this season when leading at half-time.


The Buffs hit 11-of-22 from the field in the first half, the eighth game this season CU is shooting 50 percent from the field in the first half.


In their last four games, CU is 56-of-65 (.862) from the charity stripe.


SMU was led by Derek Williams, who scored 14 points, and Fall added 13 points and 11 rebounds.


Colorado returns home to host Western State College (Colo.) on Wednesday, Jan. 7 at 7 p.m. before opening Big 12 play at Missouri on Wednesday, Jan. 14 at 7 p.m. (MST) on ESPNU.


Game Notes:

- Freshman Nate Tomlinson has had an assist in every game played this season. Tonight he tied his season-high (five) 

- Cory Higgins led CU in assists for the fourth time this season (one shared)

- The team has nine student-athletes with 2.9 grade point average or higher.

- The team has five student-athletes with a 3.0 or better (Trent Beckley, Austin Dufault, Trey Eckloff, Levi Knutson, Andrew Zehnder).

- It is the seventh straight game with the same line up (Tomlinson, Higgins, Dufault, Thorne II, Jackson-Wilson).

- Dufault, Higgins, Thorne II have started all 13 games.

- CU has made a 3-pointer in 208-straight games.

- With five assists tonight, Tomlinson has 44 assists moving into 14th place on CU's all-time freshman assists list.