The slide continues.
CU men’s basketball (14-7, 3-3 Big 12) fell to the No. 6 Kansas Jayhawks (19-1, 4-1 Big 12) in front of a crowd of 11,203 at the Coors Events Center Tuesday night. It was the Buffs third straight loss and the Jayhawks 16th straight win against the Buffs.
“I think we took a step forward tonight, even though we didn’t win the game,” said Colorado Head Coach Tad Boyle. “Results are what matter, but when you are a basketball coach, coaching within a season, you want to see improvement.”
Sophomore guard Alec Burks led all scorers with 25 points, shooting 7-of-14 from the floor, and 10-of-11 from the foul line. Senior guard Cory Higgins shot 2-of-2 free throws en route to 19 points, and senior guard Marcus Relphorde had 15 points. Freshman guard Josh Selby led the Jayhawks with 17 points, four rebounds and hit 3-of-6 from behind the arc.
Kansas shot 50.9 percent, and 85.7 percent of their free throws. Colorado hit 48.2 percent of their field goals, 88.2 percent from the foul line and 69.2 percent of their three-pointers. The Buffs were out-rebounded 37-23 and on converted two second-chance points to the 21 of Kansas.
The Jayhawks set the tone from the start, as senior guard Tyrel Reed hit a three-pointer on the opening possession. The Buffs responded and got out to an early lead, but Kansas was strong behind the arc and quickly got back in front. A pair of three from senior guard Brady Morningstar at the 11:15 and 10:24 marks gave the Jayhawks a 10 point lead, but the Buffs hung around, never letting the lead get over 10.
At the half, Kansas led 43-39.
It was more of the same in the second half. Colorado would cut the Jayhawks’ lead, and the Jayhawks would respond by either getting stops, or hitting three-pointers. Burks brought the game within four at the 9:48 mark after netting his free throw to complete a three point play.
Kansas again stretched their lead to 10 but a Burks lay-up at 3:53, and a Relphorde trey at 2:43 brought the Buffs closer.
Despite having their lead cut to four in the final minute, Kansas hit their free throws down the stretch, preserving, and eventually sealing the win.
Even in an improved performance from their last two games, Higgins said he wasn’t happy with the loss.
“We don’t take moral victories,” Higgins said. “We feel like we are a good enough team to where we beat anybody, but I guess it was a good step back to how we should be playing.”
Relphorde said playing from behind was a hard task.
“We tried to get out to a good start, because it is always hard playing catch-up, no matter what the team, but especially against a good team like [Kansas],” Relphorde said. “We had a chance, but stuff just didn’t go our way.”
Of the few things that went right, Boyle said that he was impressed with how the Buffs took care of the ball.
“We only turned the ball over six times; that is phenomenal in a game like that,” Boyle said. “With how KU pressured us on defense, we took care of the ball.”
Colorado will hit the road next, as it heads to Waco, Texas to take on Baylor at 11:30 a.m. Saturday Jan. 29.
Boyle said that he won’t let the losing streak affect the way his team prepares for Saturday’s game.
“It will be a totally different going against [Baylor’s] zone, but we have to bounce back, so I don’t really worry about streaks, positive or negative,” said Boyle.
Contact CU Independent Sport Editor Mark McNeillie at Mark.firstname.lastname@example.org.