KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Cory Higgins scored 28 points, Alec Burks had 24 and Colorado beat No. 19 Kansas State for the third time this season, ousting the Wildcats 87-75 on Thursday in the Big 12 tournament quarterfinals.
Colorado (21-12), after losing nine in a row to Kansas State, was the only team to beat the streaking Wildcats (22-10) in their final nine games. The latest win was a big one for the Buffaloes as they try to secure an NCAA tournament bid.
Higgins had 19 points in the second half, picking up the slack while Burks struggled with three fouls and spent much of the time on the bench. The Buffaloes closed the game on a 14-3 run, sinking eight straight free throws during one stretch. They were 23 of 27 from the line.
Jacob Pullen and Curtis Kelly had 18 points apiece for Kansas State, which rode a six-game winning streak into the tournament. Kelly also had 10 rebounds.
Andre Roberson had 11 points and 14 rebounds for Colorado.
Burks, shadowed by Pullen, picked up three quick fouls in the second half and went to the bench. But Higgins took control and scored 10 straight points, keeping Colorado close until its all-Big 12 guard got back in the game.
Kelly's tip-in and Will Spradling's 3-pointer sliced Colorado's lead to 70-69 before Marcus Relphorde hit a 3-pointer from the baseline. After Spradling's driving layup cut it to 73-72, Burks went to the line and hit both ends of a 1-and-1.
With 1:23 to go, Kansas State inbounded the ball and Spradling put up a 3-pointer that missed. Burks batted away Rodney McGruder's follow attempt and Devon Peterson was called for a foul. Relphorde, with 59.9 seconds to go, made both foul shots for a 77-72 lead. Roberson made a foul shot and Higgins made two before Roberson's layup gave the Buffs, a longtime Big 12 doormat, a comfortable lead.
Earlier, with Burks on the bench, Higgins hit two free throws, Pullen canned a 3-pointer for a 55-50 lead, and then Higgins went inside for a contested bucket and followed that with a driving layup that cut the lead to 55-54.
After Devon Peterson scored for Kansas State, Higgins answered with another basket.
Levi Knutson's two foul shots and long 3-pointer put Colorado on top 61-57.
The Wildcats tied it 62-all on Pullen's 3-pointer, then Higgins hit a fallaway jumper and followed that with a driving layup. Burks, with just his second bucket of the second half, tipped in a shot and Higgins made a floater in the lane, capping an 8-2 run for a 70-64 lead with 3:31 to play.