Colorado’s Austin Dufault has his shot blocked by Kansas’ Elijah Johnson during the Big 12 semifinals on Friday night in Kansas City, Mo. The
Colorado's Austin Dufault has his shot blocked by Kansas' Elijah Johnson during the Big 12 semifinals on Friday night in Kansas City, Mo. The Buffs lost the game 90-83, but most likely will receive an at-large big to the NCAA Tournament on Sunday. ( Charlie Riedel )

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- This is usually where Colorado basketball comes in March to be put out of its misery.

The Buffs' four previous seasons all came to an end at the Big 12 Tournament. In three of those years, CU racked up 20 or more losses. Last year a loss to Texas Tech cost the program an NIT bid.

Mad, yes. Madness? Not even close.

The bar has been raised by Tad Boyle. Goodbye Big 12, hello NCAA Tournament?

The Buffs' final run at the Big 12 Tournament ended with a 90-83 loss to No. 2 Kansas on Friday night in the semifinals at the Sprint Center in front of a Rock-Chalking crowd of 18,910.

But CU, which had never made it past the quarterfinals in this tournament, had likely already played its way into the Big Dance with wins over Iowa State and Kansas State the previous two days.

"It feels pretty good knowing that we're going to be in some type of postseason," said senior Cory Higgins, who appeared to be playing on an empty tank, finishing 1-for-11 from the field with a season-low six points. "Obviously, we want to be in the (NCAA) Tournament. It will be a much less depressing feeling going back home."

It looked like the Buffs (21-13) -- only the third team in the program's 108-year history to get to 21 wins -- had some magic left for the top-seeded Jayhawks (31-2) after storming out to a 22-10 lead.


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CU had an 11-2 head start after early 3-pointers from Nate Tomlinson and Marcus Relphorde. Tyrel Reed finally made KU's first field goal 3:40 into the game.

They Jayhawks cut the deficit to three points (13-10), but CU answered with a 9-0 run, capped with a dunk and jumper by Alec Burks, who finished with a game-high 23 points.

"I thought Colorado played great, especially in the first half," KU head coach Bill Self said. "They got us down 22-10 before we woke up. And then we actually played some of our best ball of the year."

Two of the players who were awakened are giants -- Marcus Morris (6-9, 235), the Big 12 Player of the Year, and Markieff Morris (6-10, 245). They combined for 40 points (20 each) and 21 rebounds in the game.

Marcus Morris scored the next seven points to start a 19-4 surge by the Jayhawks. A Brady Morningstar basket gave KU a 29-26 lead with 7:07 to play before the break.

Levi Knutson stopped the bleeding and evened the score with his first 3-pointer. The senior sharpshooter splashed another shot from behind the arc to give CU a 32-29 edge.

Mario Little and Reed each made 3-pointers down the stretch as KU closed the half with a 12-3 spurt and led 43-37.

"The thing that killed us against KU all three times is rebounding," Boyle said. "We out-rebounded Texas, but we couldn't do anything about KU on the boards. That's the frustrating part."

The Morris Bros. had 10 points each at the intermission and combined for 12 rebounds to match CU's team. By the end of the game KU had a 41-26 edge on the glass with 16 second-chance points.

The Jayhawks opened the second half with 16-5 run, which concluded with 12 unanswered points and a basket by Markieff Morris for a 59-42 lead.

"They're two of the best bigs in the whole nation," Higgins said of the Morris twins. "To have them on the same front line is tough to deal with."

CU continued to play hard and cut KU's largest lead of 18 points in half when Andre Roberson finished an 8-0 rally with a dunk to make the score 74-65.

Reed restored some order with two clutch 3-pointers in the final 4:20 to give KU leads of 79-67 and 82-70.

The Buffs would not go away and were within six points (86-80) after a 3-pointer by Knutson and a three-point play by Burks with 38.6 seconds left.

Fittingly, Marcus and Markieff Morris closed the game out at the free-throw line where they were a combined 17-for-20.

"I'm very proud of our resiliency and our toughness to come back in the second half against a good team," Boyle said. "But we're not happy with the result. We came here to win this tournament, and I know these guys in the locker room are disappointed."

And now the Buffs will wait until Sunday evening to learn their postseason fate. The coaches, players and members of the athletic department will gather at Boyle's home to watch the live NCAA Tournament selection show on television.

"Until your name pops up there, we're not going to put the cart in front of the horse," Boyle said. "We're going to certainly hope and keep our fingers crossed."

Kansas 90, Colorado 83

COLORADO

FG FT Reb

Min M-A M-A O-T A PF PTS

Dufault 25 2-5 2-5 2-5 0 4 6

Tomlinson 22 3-4 0-1 0-1 4 1 9

Relphorde 23 4-9 0-0 1-4 4 3 9

Burks 33 9-18 5-6 4-5 6 3 23

Higgins 33 1-11 4-4 1-2 1 4 6

Sharpe 7 2-2 0-0 0-0 1 0 4

Beckley 2 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 2 0

Coney 1 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0

Roberson 23 4-5 0-0 1-5 1 5 9

Knutson 26 6-9 0-0 1-1 0 0 17

Mills 5 0-0 0-2 1-2 0 0 0

Totals 200 31-63 11-18 11-26 17 22 83

Percentages: FG .492, FT .611.

3-Point Goals: 10-27, .370 (Knutson 5-7, Tomlinson 3-4, Roberson 1-1, Relphorde 1-5, Higgins 0-3, Dufault 0-3, Burks 0-4).

Team Rebounds: 1.

Blocked Shots: 1 (Roberson).

Turnovers: 10 (Relphorde 3, Tomlinson 2, Dufault 2, Burks, Knutson, Higgins).

Steals: 8 (Roberson 3, Relphorde 2, Tomlinson 2, Burks).

Technical Fouls: None.

KANSAS

FG FT Reb

Min M-A M-A O-T A PF PTS

Mark Morris 25 6-10 7-8 5-8 0 2 20

Marc Morris 33 5-12 10-12 6-13 4 3 20

Morningstar 36 3-9 0-0 1-4 5 1 6

Reed 34 4-7 4-4 1-3 1 3 15

Johnson 10 1-2 0-0 0-2 0 3 3

Robinson 9 1-1 0-0 0-1 0 3 2

Taylor 29 4-7 7-8 0-2 4 0 15

Little 12 1-1 0-0 0-2 0 1 3

Releford 1 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0

Selby 11 2-6 1-1 2-4 0 2 6

Totals 200 27-55 29-33 15-41 14 18 90

Percentages: FG .491, FT .879.

3-Point Goals: 7-17, .412 (Reed 3-6, Little 1-1, Mark. Morris 1-2, Johnson 1-2, Selby 1-3, Morningstar 0-3).

Team Rebounds: 2.

Blocked Shots: 2 (Mark. Morris 2).

Turnovers: 15 (Marc. Morris 4, Taylor 4, Reed 2, Selby 2, Little, Morningstar, Mark. Morris).

Steals: 4 (Marc. Morris 3, Reed).

Technical Fouls: None.

Colorado 37 46--83

Kansas 43 47--90

A -- 18,910.

Officials -- John Higgins, Mark Whitehead, Terry Oglesby.