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Buffs beat K-State as last second 3 is overturned - What a difference 3 days makes. Wednesday night Buff Nation was sent home frustrated because of a made 3 pointer. Not even a week later I had to laugh as a different visitor hit another clutch 3 to beat CU at home; or so it looked initially. Upon review, it was obvious that Rodney McGruder's miraculous shot over Alec Burks had been after the buzzer expired, and CU was awarded the victory.
|Burks nervously looks for an official to overturn the shot. From: The BDC|
It was all too fitting that an evening of piss-poor officiating and countless referee conferences ended up at the scorers table, but a win-is-a-win. I'd love to bitch and moan about how poor the officials were, that they brutally miss-managed the game and ruined yet another KSU home date for the capacity CEC crowd, but that would sell short the never-say-die efforts of the Buffs Saturday night. It would've been easy for Colorado to fold up after the A&M loss, given how devastatingly close the Buffs came to beating a ranked opponent to keep their fading hopes of a Tournament berth alive. Instead they played their grittiest game of the season, and overcame a desperate and determined opponent to grab their 5th conference win.
It was never easy - Marcus Relphorde only played 11 minutes. Alec Burks only scored 8 points. An already depleted bench was pressed into service because of foul troubles. There was a lot going wrong for the Buffs this game, but they somehow found a way to win. They did this by putting together their best overall defensive effort of the season. The Wildcats were held to barely over 30% shooting, and CU held KSU superstar Jacob Pullen in check all night.
|We can all laugh about it now, but that was a hard-fought victory. From: the BDC|
Offensively, the Buffs were stunted by star guard Burks only having 8 points on 3-13 shooting. However, they were able to scrounge up 8 points from the usually quiet Shannon Sharpe and got key contributions from reserve players down the stretch. It certainly helped that CU shot a blistering 60% from the field in the second half and hit their free throws (82%) while KSU was missing theirs (58%).
Burks - Alec may have been silenced for most of the game, but in the final minute he made his presence felt. First, with 40+ seconds left, he picked the pocket of pre-season All-American Jacob Pullen for a gigantic break-away dunk. Then, on the final play of the game, there was Burks draped all over McGruder. The lengthy Burks forced McGruder to take his shot off balance, and caused the ball to leave just late enough. Alec showed up when it mattered, and that's all that counts.
|With the game on the line, Alec left Pullen in his dust. From: The BDC|
A Ben Mills sighting - Hey, look, he's still on the team! With the majority of the heavy rotation guys sitting with foul trouble, Coach Boyle was forced to go to his bench early and often to stay in the game. This meant seldom used players like freshman Ben Mills and junior Trey Eckloff played big minutes. I'll be honest and say that I was very worried about Mills when he entered the game. Luckily he had a big block on fellow 7-footer Henriquez-Roberts to immediately get him in the flow of the action. Ben is nowhere near ready, and he looked a little lost for a few of his 9 minutes, but he played pretty good defense, and forced KSU to pay attention down low which opened up some lanes. I'm sure it'll help his confidence in the future, and I'm happy that he played well enough to earn the standing ovation he received in the first half.
|Mills block was huge both for the game and for his confidence. From: The BDC.|
Not the first time CU/KSU has come down to seconds - Saturday night, while KSU set up for their final play, I couldn't help but think of what is probably the most infamous hardwood meeting between KSU and CU. In March of 2003, I stood in dis-belief as KSU forward Pervis Pasco intercepted CU's last-ditch forecourt pass only to travel while celebrating what he assumed was the game winning play. That gave the Buffs one final chance, which they used to find guard Mookie Wright to bank-in the game wining 3 pointer. To steal a line from The Hours, it was the greatest comeback since Lazarus. That this happened less than 20 feet in front of me only furthered the surrealistic nature of the event.
In that game, the Buffs were afforded 1.8 seconds to pull off a miracle shot to claim victory. Had KSU 1.8 seconds, instead of the 1.1 they actually had Saturday evening, they would've walked away winners as the ball barely left Rodney McGruder's hand after the light went off. It would have been 8 years worth of poetic justice for KSU to have come away with the win Saturday night; I'm just glad the universe doesn't work that way.
Pitchers and Catchers Report - While my White Sox will still be in hibernation for 3 more days, baseball fans across the Front Range may rejoice as the first of the Colorado Rockies report for duty today. Workouts won't start until tomorrow, but we're inching closer to opening day (we even have the weather to prove it!). The Rockies and their fans have to be excited for the new season, afterall this is the new Rockies who spend to keep young talent in the system. They may have the defending champs in their division, but you have to like the Rox chances this year. Since the Buffs have a full week off before the game in Lawrence on Saturday, I plan on having some more baseball-centric thoughts later this week.
|Our first view of Summer. From: AP|