Neill Woelk
Neill Woelk
One of these days ...

One of these days, the Colorado basketball team will get a break in its favor.

They`ll make that shot in the final seconds to end a much-too-long road losing streak.

They`ll hit a shot in the final seconds to knock off the No. 1 team in the nation. (At least, they`ll have all their best players available when they play the best team in the nation.)

They`ll do something -- anything -- to break the ice.

But until then, the Buffs have to continue to learn one of the harshest lessons in life: battling from the bottom is the toughest task in sports. Until you absolutely, positively prove you don`t belong there, you`re going to get kicked at every turn.

The Buffs had their chances Wednesday night against Kansas. Oh, did they have their chances. They had the chance that everyone dreams of having against the best team in the nation.

Ball in their best player`s hands, eight seconds on the shot clock, tie ballgame and just 10 ticks remaining in the contest.

Air ball.

Surprised? Not really. If you`ve followed Colorado basketball for any length of time, you know this much: nothing comes easily for the Buffs.

Given a second chance at life, the Jayhawks didn`t waste it. KU dominated the overtime period. They took care of business, walked away with a 72-66 win, and left the Buffs shaking their heads.

Once again, close but no victory cigar.These are the Buffs that had a chance to win in the final minute at Texas A&M. Ditto at Iowa State. And now, the biggest heartbreaker yet.

Don`t even mention moral victories to the Buffs. In the post-game press conference, a reporter made the mistake of asking Jeff Bzdelik about the concept.

"Not into that," Bzdelik said forcefully. "We are not into moral victories. We`ve got to learn how to close out games. It`s about winning. I know that. I embrace that. And we`re going to bust through. I really, really believe that."

It`s not like the Buffs can come any closer and NOT win a close game. They`ve already found just about every way possible to let them slip away. A missed rebound in the final seconds. A missed shot -- twice in the same week.

And those are just the final minutes.

Leading up to the final few seconds of regulation on Wednesday, the Buffs also let some chances get away. There was an ill-advised 3-point attempt from Nate Tomlinson. There was a turnover. There was another missed shot.

"There`s no magic formula," said Buff guard Levi Knutson. "We just have to realize that every possession counts, no matter when it is in the ballgame."

Knutson certainly did his part. With freshman Alex Burks on the bench with a knee injury, Knutson scored 13 points and grabbed four rebounds in 34 minutes. He also had a huge steal down the stretch that gave CU the opportunity to take the lead.

There were plenty of contributions from other corners. Cory Higgins, who will be remembered for missing the last shot in regulation, should also be remembered for his 14 points, seven rebounds and three assists. Marcus Relphorde notched an 18-point, 11-rebound double-double.

"I thought they were the better team," said KU coach Bill Self. "I am not going to say we played poorly because it doesn`t give them the credit they deserve."

But it wasn`t enough.

"We`ve been in enough close games," Higgins said. "We know we can play with anybody. It`s just a matter of beating those teams now."

Bzdelik knows it`s not for a lack of effort. He knows his players hurt. Two heartbreaking losses in a row has left an ache that won`t go away -- at least not until they win a game or two.

"I believe in them," Bzdelik said. "I hurt for them. We just have to keep banging."

With eight conference games remaining, plus the Big 12 tournament, the Buffs still have plenty of opportunities ahead of them. The chance at postseason play still exists.

But sooner or later, they need to prove to themselves that they can win one of these close ones.

"We had our chance to win," Bzdelik said.

One of these days?

One of these days very soon, the Buffs have to take advantage of those chances.