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“Felt great, I was in a straight line, my momentum held my form up and guided it in.”
Junior guard Askia Booker’s buzzer-beating three-pointer brought the CU student section onto the court as the Buffs celebrated their stunning 75-72 upset of the No. 6 Kansas Jayhawks.
Colorado held a six-point lead with 1:44 left in the game, but the Jayhawks fought back to tie it with four seconds left to play. Coming off CU’s final timeout, sophomore forward Xavier Johnson inbounded the ball to Booker, who took three dribbles, pulled up 25 feet from the basket and knocked down a three as time expired.
“The play was originally for Spencer [Dinwiddie], but they expected that and denied him the ball so Xavier passed it to me,” Booker said after the game.
Booker had previously hit a three to put the Buffs up 33-30 at the half as time expired, and again with less than two minutes left in the game. His final shot was “without a doubt” the biggest of his life, he said.
All of the Colorado starters showed up to play as four of five scored double digits, led by junior guard Spencer Dinwiddie and Booker’s 15 points each. Sophomore forward Josh Scott and Johnson put in 14 each. Fan favorite senior Ben Mills also contributed with four points and a huge energy boost late in the first half.
“It’s huge,” Mills said. “It was so much fun, something you dream of.”
Colorado played tough defensively and used a 2-3 zone defense for the first time this season. Head coach Tad Boyle, who normally prefers playing man-to-man, said he had to bite the bullet and play zone to help slow down the Jayhawks.
“The zone really helped us keep them off balance,” Boyle said. “Without the zone, we don’t win that game.”
Despite being undersized overall as a team, CU held its own on the boards by only being out-rebounded by one (32-33) and adding 15 offensive rebounds. Those second-chance opportunities helped immensely as CU only shot 41 percent from the floor, including going 7-22 from three-point range and missing 15 free throws.
“I look at the stat sheet and I wonder how we won, but our guys’ resilience and guts made the difference,” Boyle said.
The win is Colorado’s first against Kansas since 2003 and only its second in the last 48 meetings, including the 36-point pummeling by Kansas last season. After the game, Boyle emphasized the need to focus on CU as a team.
“It’s not about Kansas, it’s about Colorado,” Boyle said. “This program needs to get to the point where we expect to win these games.”
The win will certainly look impressive on CU’s resume as the Buffs seek their third straight NCCA Tournament appearance and, more immediately, will provide a charge in confidence as they prepare for PAC-12 play in January.
Up next for the Buffalos is Elon University at 6:30 p.m. on Friday night in Boulder.
Contact CU Independent Staff Writer Grayson O’Roark at Grayson.Oroark@colorado.edu.