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Buffs End Season, Fall 67-56 To Texas

Mar 11, 2009

OKLAHOMA CITY - Colorado's men's basketball season came to a close as No. 5 seed Texas defeated the 12-seed Buffaloes 67-56, in the first round of the 2009 Big 12 Championship, Wednesday at the Ford Center in Oklahoma City.

Colorado finishes the season 9-22 overall while Texas (21-10) moves on to face No. 4 seed Kansas State on Thursday afternoon.

Dwight Thorne II led the Buffaloes with 15 points and five rebounds. Levi Knutson had 11 points and six rebounds.

Texas had a pair of players in double-doubles. Dexter Pittman led all players with 26 points and 10 rebounds while Damion James had 11 points and 11 rebounds.

At 6-foot-10 and about 300 pounds, the oversized Pittman had his way against Colorado's interior defense. He started out 9-for-10 from the field with four dunks and even hit his first five free throws.

The Buffaloes didn't have an answer inside and could never break through against the 2-3 zone deployed by the Longhorns, going 4-for-17 from 3-point range.

"They were in the zone most of the game this afternoon," Thorne said. "We played them in Boulder, they were more of a man team. They were playing in the passing lanes and not really pressuring the ball and it kind of threw us off a little bit. We handled it decently. Our main problem was rebounding the basketball."

The Longhorns held a 38-30 edge on rebounds. Eighteen of UT's rebounds came on the offensive end, resulting directly into 24 Longhorn points.

"For the most part we were getting stops, but (getting a defensive stop) has been our problem all year, not finishing a defensive possession," CU head coach Jeff Bzdelik said.

A.J. Abrams, Texas' leading scorer and the Big 12's career leader in 3-pointers, added 10 points while matching his season-low with only six shots. It was only the sixth time this season Abrams didn't take at least 10 shots in a game.

Instead, it was Pittman leading the way inside as Texas avoided becoming the second straight fifth-seeded team to lose in the first round of the tournament. Colorado defeated Baylor in the opening round last year, but never led this time around.

Pittman bowled over Jermyl Jackson-Wilson for an open layup to start a run of eight straight Texas points midway through the first half that pushed the lead to 10. His third dunk of the game gave the Longhorns a 29-18 advantage, their largest of the first half.

The Buffaloes stayed in it from the foul line, going 11-for-12 on free throws, and closed to within 35-29 on Casey Crawford's layup just before halftime. After Pittman opened the second half with another dunk, Thorne answered with 3-pointer to get Colorado within five.

"I'm really proud of my basketball team," Bzdelik said. "We're undersized in so many ways with our youth and inexperience and they battled. They have been competitive for a great majority of the year, and today was no different."

Pittman then set up Justin Mason for a layup, and James tipped in a missed 3-pointer by Abrams to extend Texas' lead. The Buffaloes were never again closer than seven, and the Longhorns' lead swelled to 47-34 after Mason's driving layup with 14:06 to play.

Pittman thwarted a brief comeback bid by the Buffs with a three-point play and a layup that restored the 13-point lead.

"We have to learn from what we did this year," Thorne said. "We have to learn from the games we played. We had close games. We have to learn from the blow outs we had. We just have to get better. That's going to be the thing for this offseason."

CU leading scorer Cory Higgins, who scored a career-best 34 points when the Buffaloes took Texas to overtime in February, was held to a season-low five points on just 1-of-11 from the field.