Late Surge Lifts Buffs Over Iowa State
BOULDER – The University of Colorado men's basketball team pulled ahead of Iowa State right when it mattered the most—at the end of the game—as the Buffaloes went on a late run to pick up their first conference win in a 55-49 decision at the Coors Events/Conference Center Tuesday night.
The game was deadlocked until the last 2:47 of the second half when Colorado (9-10, 1-4 Big 12) went on a 10-3 run to close out the game. The Buffs' late run was the only big run of the game. Up until that point, the score had been tied 13 times and the lead had changed 15 times.
Sophomore Cory Higgins started the run by hitting back-to-back free throws to put the Buffs up 47-46. Junior Dwight Thorne II followed with a three-point play after he was fouled by Cyclone Lucca Staiger on a driving layup, and netted both the layup and the ensuing free throw.
Higgins struck again with another driving layup, and Thorne and freshman Nate Tomlinson sank three combined free throws to give the Buffaloes a comfortable nine-point lead (their biggest of the game) with 36 seconds remaining.
Iowa State's Staiger fired up a 3-pointer with just three seconds left, but it wasn't enough to rattle the Buffs who celebrated on their home court for the first time in Big 12 play this season.
With the win, the Buffs snap a four-game losing streak and hand the Cyclones (12-8, 1-4 Big 12) their fourth loss in the past five games. Colorado picks up its first Big 12 win since defeating Iowa State, 67-55 on March 1, 2008.
Tonight's win marks CU's fourth straight against ISU at home, making for the team's longest current home winning streak against any Big 12 team. The Buffaloes have now defeated the Cyclones 11 times in the past 13 meetings between the two teams in Boulder.
Higgins led the Buffs with a team-high 19 points, three steals, and two assists. Tomlinson added nine points, an assist, and grabbed a career- and team-high six rebounds.
For the first time in four games, Colorado played with an 11-player rotation, and this proved to be huge as the bench came up strong for the Buffs. Sophomores Levi Knutson and Casey Crawford entered the game a combined 0-for-24 from the field, but tonight they combined for 11 points off the bench.
Crawford broke a four-game scoreless streak with five points (all in the first half). Knutson scored his first two points since Coppin State (Dec. 28) breaking an 0-for-16 shooting skid, finishing with six points on the night.
CU was averaging 20.3 turnovers in Big 12 play, tonight against Iowa State they allowed only eight, tying their season low on giveaways.
Buffaloes' head coach Jeff Bzdelik was pleased with the team's all-around effort. "The fact we didn't turn the ball over allowed us to continue to get good shots and not give them easy points. The fact we held them even on the boards, and they only had three offensive rebounds. The fact we made more free throws than they attempted, those three categories are significant," he said.
Colorado travels to Kansas (15-4, 4-0) this Saturday, Jan. 31 for a 2 p.m. start televised by ESPNU.