Buffs Knock Off No. 21/20 Wildcats On The Road
MANHATTAN, Kan.—Levi Knutson scored 20 points on 6-of-8 three-point shooting to lead the Buffs to wins against ranked opponents in back-to-back games for the first time in school history as Colorado defeated No. 21/20 Kansas State 74-66 at Bramlage Coliseum on Wednesday night.
With Colorado's (13-4, 2-0 Big 12) lead down to one point at 63-62, Knutson drilled his sixth three-pointer of the night to put CU ahead by four points with 4:56 left in the game.
Jamar Samuels made one of two free throws for Kansas State (12-5, 0-2 Big 12) to bring the Buffs lead back down to two points at 68-66 with 58 seconds remaining. Cory Higgins responded with a floating jumper in the paint with 49 seconds left to put the Buffs ahead 70-66. The Wildcats would not score again and Alec Burks and Shannon Sharpe each hit a pair of free throws to end the scoring at 74-66.
Knutson's 20 points off the bench led CU, and Burks and Marcus Relphorde each chipped in with 12 points. Andre Roberson scored nine points and a pulled down a game-high nine boards for the Buffs. CU committed a season-high 20 turnovers, but outrebounded Kansas State 38-29 and shot 50.0 percent (27-of-54) from the field. The Buffs went 8-of-12 (66.7 percent) from three-point range behind Knutson tying a career-high with six three-point makes.
"Levi's playing with unbelievable confidence," said CU Head Coach Tad Boyle of Knutson. "If he's not the sixth man of the year, I don't know who is. He gives us such a lift off the bench. Obviously he's playing starter minutes, but he brings such enthusiasm, energy, and makes all the right plays."
Jacob Pullen scored a game-high 22 points, including 14 in the second half to lead the Wildcats. Pullen also dished out six assists on the night. Martavious Irving and Rodney McGruder each added 12 points for Kansas State. K-State shot 40.4 percent (23-of-57) from the field for the night.
CU opened the second half on a 4-0 run to go ahead 37-33 and take their first lead since the score was 2-0. After Kansas State re-took the lead at 40-39, Colorado went on a 12-0 run from 16:49 to 12:12 left in the game to take their largest lead of the night at 51-40. Roberson hit a three-pointer, then scored after an offensive rebound to tally the final five points of this 12-0 stretch.
Pullen would lead Kansas State back into the game though, as the Wildcats would twice tighten their deficit down to one point before Knutson hit his final three-pointer with 4:56 remaining. Pullen scored 12 points from the 8:38 to 3:59 marks of the second half.
The Buffs closed the first half on a 9-0 run over the final 2:55 to tie the game at 33-33 going into the break. It was the second deficit of at least nine points CU erased in the first half.
Irving hit a three-pointer to give the Wildcats a 17-6 lead with 11:53 remaining in the first period. The Buffs responded with an 18-7 run to tie the game at 24 with 5:23 left in the half. Higgins and Burks both scored four points in this stretch and Knutson nailed a three-pointer.
Kansas State then went on a 9-0 run behind four points from Pullen and another Irving trey to take a 33-24 lead with 3:11 left before the break.
Knutson made his second three-pointer of the game to snap the Kansas State run. After Relphorde made two free throws, goaltending was called on a fast break layup by Knutson to tighten the Wildcats' lead to two points. A steal and a dunk by Relphorde ended the first half scoring at 33-33.
Knutson led the Buffs with eight points in the first half and Relphorde added seven points along with four steals in the first. Pullen and Irving each scored eight points in the first period to lead the Wildcats.
The win for CU snaps a nine-game losing streak against Kansas State. The Buffs also improve to 4-0 in January for the first time since Chauncey Billups led the team to the NCAA Tournament in 1997. This also marks CU's first road win over a ranked team since Jan. 11, 1997 when they defeated No. 20 Texas Tech. Additionally, with two wins over ranked opponents (also on Jan. 8 vs. No. 9/8 Missouri) CU has defeated two ranked teams for the first time since 2002-03. The 2002-03 Buffs beat four ranked teams and advanced to the NCAA Tournament as well.
By winning his first two Big 12 games, Tad Boyle becomes the first CU coach since H.B. Lee in 1950-51 to win his first two league games.
The Buffs return to the court on Saturday to host Oklahoma State at the Coors Events Center. The contest will tip 11:30 a.m. The Cowboys are receiving votes in both polls.