Nate Tomlinson, Carlon Brown

Colorado continues their postseason surge with a win over UNLV

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The Pac-12’s flag-bearer is still bearing the league’s flag.

Despite committing 23 turnovers against a tough press from No. 6 UNLV, No. 11 Colorado still managed to beat the Rebels 68-64. Colorado was up 53-33 with 12 minutes left, but the Rebs went on a 22-4 run to get within two points, missing a pair of 3-pointers on the ensuing possession that would have tied the game.

The game carried much the same trajectory as the Pac-12 title game, when Colorado scored just three points over the final eight minutes but survived to beat Arizona 53-50.

It also had the same outcome, with Colorado’s season improbably continuing. The Buffaloes finished sixth in the Pac-12. They had to beat Utah, Oregon, Cal and Arizona on consecutive days just for the right to play in the tournament, so why not keep the ride going?

Colorado has become an interesting story line. At this point, they are a cinderella. The Pac-12 was a mid-major conference this season in everything but name. Colorado finished in the middle of that league. They aren’t supposed to still be playing. There is a reason that Central Florida and Old Dominion and Northern Iowa have all either started their offseason or bided their time while playing in one of the off-the-radar tournaments.

Making the run all the more impressive is the fact that Colorado wasn’t supposed to be anywhere near this good this season. They went 8-8 in the Big 12 last season, missed the NCAA tournament and lost their two best players to the NBA. They were picked to finish tenth in the league. Behind Arizona State. That should tell you something.

Colorado’s next opponent is No. 3 Baylor, who was a conference foe for the former Big 12 member as recently as last season. There will be plenty of familiarity between the two schools as they compete for the right to play in the Sweet 16.

Did anyone think we would be saying that about the Buffs this season?

Rob Dauster is the editor of the college basketball website Ballin’ is a Habit. You can find him on twitter @robdauster.

Brooks’ big game leads No. 15 Oregon over Fresno State 78-73

Dillon Brooks, Torren Jones
AP Photo/Chris Pietsch
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EUGENE, Ore. (AP) Dillon Brooks had 21 points and 10 rebounds and No. 15 Oregon staved off a late rally by Fresno State for a 78-73 victory Monday night.

Chris Boucher and Elgin Cook added 14 points each for the Ducks (6-0), who led 70-52 with 6:35 to play before Marvelle Harris scored 13 points in a 16-2 run by the Bulldogs (5-1) that cut the deficit to four.

A driving layup by Brooks put Oregon up 74-68 with 1:20 left, and the Ducks held on by making four of six free throws in the final 45 seconds.

Harris, who didn’t score until the 12:04 mark of the second half, led Fresno State with 18 points, while Paul Watson added 11 and Torren Jones had 10 points and 11 rebounds.

The Bulldogs won the rebounding battle 41-32 behind Jones and Karachi Edo, who had nine rebounds and 10 points.

Freshman Tyler Dorsey, Oregon’s leading scorer at 15.2 points per game, finished with 12.

The Ducks scored the game’s first 11 points, went up by as many as 14 and took a 37-25 halftime lead. The Ducks did most of the damage from inside the 3-point arc (9 of 10) and at the free throw line, outscoring the Bulldogs 13-5.

Fresno State, meanwhile, missed its first six shots from the field, shot 29.0 percent (9 of 31) and saw its top two scorers, Harris and Cezar Guerrero, held scoreless for the first 20 minutes.

The senior guards came in averaging 20.2 and 13.2 points per game, respectively.


Fresno State: Harris, the preseason choice for Mountain West Conference player of the year, needed one point to crack the Bulldog’s all-time top 10 in scoring. After going scoreless in the first half, he finished with 18 to rank 10th with 1,425, one behind Tod Bernard in ninth place, in 107 career games. . The Bulldogs fell to 2-10 all-time against Oregon. They last time they beat the Ducks, who have won the last five meetings, was in 1995. . Fresno State hasn’t beaten a Top 25 team on the road since 2000.

Oregon: The double-double was the second of the season Brooks and fourth of his career. . The Ducks are 40-2 against nonconference opponents since moving into Matthew Knight Arena five years ago. . The 6-0 start is Oregon’s second in the last nine years. The Ducks started 13-0 two seasons ago.

No. 1 Kentucky survives without Tyler Ulis in lineup

Tyler Ulis
AP Photo/Chuck Burton
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Less than a week after giving No. 2 Maryland all they could handle, Illinois State went into Lexington and gave No. 1 Kentucky fits.

The Redbirds never really threatened UK in the second half, but they went into the break tied and were within single digits down the stretch, eventually losing 75-63.

Kentucky was flustered. They turned the ball over 15 times compared to just eight assists, they shot 2-for-12 from three and just 29-for-46 (63 percent) from the charity stripe. They simply did not handle Illinois State’s pressure all that well.

And there was a reason for that.

Tyler Ulis didn’t play.

Sometimes it’s difficult to appreciate just what a player brings to a team until that player is not in the lineup, and that was precisely the case with Ulis on Monday night. It was crystal clear what he provides Kentucky. Beyond leadership and the ability to break a press without throwing the ball to the other team, he’s a calming presence. He doesn’t get rattled when a defender is harassing him and he doesn’t get overwhelmed by a situation like a mid-major threatening the No. 1 team in the country in their own gym.

He’s everything you look for in a pure point guard, and for as good as Jamal Murray and Isaiah Briscoe have looked at times this season, it should be crystal clear who the most important player on this Kentucky team is.