No. 1 Kansas 72, Colorado 66
Marcus Morris went up for the shot in overtime and hit the rim.
He grabbed the rebound, but his follow-up also fell short. Again,
he grabbed the board. Again, he missed the shot.
Finally, on his fourth try, Morris put the ball through the hoop
and finished off the Colorado Buffaloes.
“I wish I could have made it the first time, but I kind of got
my stats up a little bit, so that played out well,” Morris
That one play epitomized the entire perplexing game for the
top-ranked Kansas Jayhawks, who survived a 72-66 thriller at the
Coors Events Center on Wednesday night.
The Jayhawks (21-1, 7-0 Big 12) were just 18 for 38 from the
free throw line and couldn’t shake the Buffaloes (11-11, 2-6) until
the extra period.
Morris, who scored 15 points and pulled down eight boards, got a
chance to pad his stats in overtime by blocking the lane in the
waning seconds of regulation, when Cory Higgins misfired from
several feet beyond the arc with 2 seconds left and the game tied
“I think I waited too long,” Higgins acknowledged. “I’d
rather drive the ball. But they switched the screen and I let the
clock get too far down and I ended up with that shot.”
Morris was surprised to see Higgins hesitate and then have to
hurry a long-range shot like that.
“I’m like, ‘Hey, if he wants to hit one from back here, that’s
a shot we’ll lose by,” Morris said. “I mean, that’s a shot I want
him to take instead of drawing contact and I knew they were in the
bonus. So, that’s why I kind of gave him some space. And I think he
fell asleep on the shot clock and had to chuck it.”
Morris said he was exhausted after his put-back on his fourth
try gave Kansas a 67-60 lead in overtime.
“I was done. I gave everything I had on that last play and the
altitude was ridiculous out there. It was hard to catch our
breath,” he said. “It was a tough game. Nothing was going our way
and still nothing was going our way because I was missing right
around the rim.”
But Morris would be called upon one more time.
He stepped to the line with 26 seconds left and Kansas up by
four and calmly sank two free throws, the only ones he hit all
“Heck, he’s 2 for 7. You should make at least two free throws
if you shoot seven, OK?” Kansas coach Bill Self said, chuckling.
“So, I’m not going to give him that much credit.
“But I will tell you this: He made the play of the game. That
was the best basketball play of the game. From a competitive
standpoint, guys are really tired and he goes after his own ball
three or four times and gets the put-back.”
Morris sat out the last 12 minutes of the first half two fouls
and the Buffs entered their locker room trailing 34-28 but owning
the momentum after erasing a 21-8 deficit.
Levi Knutson hit quick consecutive 3-pointers from the right
corner to tie it at 34 and force Kansas to call a timeout less than
90 seconds into the second half. From then on, it was a thrilling
game even though the Buffs would end up losing to Kansas for the
14th straight time.
The Buffs have never beaten a top-ranked team in 13 tries,
including six against Kansas.
The No. 1 team has lost each of the last two weeks, Texas and
“We didn’t play our best by any stretch, but if you go 18-of-38
from the line and your starting perimeter goes 8-of-26 from the
field and you somehow get a win, then some guys had to make some
plays,” Self said. “But I thought Colorado played great.”
Self was stumped as to why his team, which was second in the Big
12 with a free throw shooting percentage of 78 percent coming in,
could slip to 47 percent on this night.
“We weren’t even close,” he said. “We almost had two air
balls the first half. I don’t know how that happened.”
They’ll search for answers Thursday.
“We’re going to be shooting free throws tomorrow,” sighed
Kansas center Cole Aldrich, who had 16 points and 14 rebounds.
Marcus Relphorde led the Buffs with 18 points and 11 boards. His
two free throws with 56 seconds left in regulation gave the
Buffaloes their first – and only – lead at 60-59, but Sherron
Collins made one of two free throws to tie it with 38 seconds left,
and the Buffs never led again.
“I’m not going to say we played poorly because it doesn’t give
(the Buffaloes) the credit they deserve,” Self said. “We’ll look
back on this as a good win.”
The Buffs and their fans will look back and wonder what might
have been had Colorado coach Jeff Bzdelik not decided to sit his
star freshman Alec Burns, who leads Big 12 newcomers with a 16.3
scoring average but is nursing a sprained left knee.
“He was cleared today by the doctors, but he wasn’t 100
percent,” Bzdelik acknowledged. “He is a young, talented guy.
That was my decision from the standpoint that you are not going to
jeopardize anything. I want the risk the next time he steps on the
court to be as minimal as possible.
“He wanted to play, but he understood.”