Colorado Kicks California Out Of Nit

Colorado's Alec Burks (right) lays in two of his game high 25 points against California's Harper Kamp in the Buffalo's 89-72 win over the Golden Bears Friday night in the NIT. (AP Photo)

Final Score: Colorado 89 California 72

Future Pac-12 member Colorado, in their waning days as a Big XII member, kicked current Pac-10 member California out of the NIT Tournament Friday night, with a going away 89-72 win in Boulder.

The Golden Bears, who finished 18-15 for the season, couldn't control Colorado's Alec Burks and Cory HIggins. The Buffalos' back court duo scored 25 and 22 points respectively, out-distancing the determined efforts of California's Jorge Gutierrez (until he was knocked out of the game with an injury) and Harper Camp, who had 16 and 14 points respectively.

Cal's Allen Crabbe struggled shooting, hitting only 3 of 12 shots, all from beyond the three point arc, for 9 points.

Gutierrez and Kamp got Cal off to a 5-0 start, but Burks scored Colorado's first three baskets, tieing the game at 5-5 and 7-7, and after Austin Dufault's layup, the Buffalos never trailed again.

Crabbe had two of his three three pointers on consecutive Cal possessions with just over three minutes left before halftime to pull the Bears within 32-29, and five consecutive points by Gutierrez made it only 35-34 Colorado a minute before halftime.

Cal never got any closer, as Colorado took a 37-34 halftime lead, and then Higgins hit three consecutive three pointers on three Buffalo possessions early in the second half to open a working margin. Gutierrez missed the second half, further hampering the Bears.

Colorado's largest lead was 17 points, but Cal battled back, handing around about 10 points behind much of the second half, before seeing the Buffs build the lead back to as many as 16 points going down the stretch, and eventually won by 17.

Cal, a #4 seed in the NIT, became the first Pac-10 team eliminated from a non-NCAA Tournament.

Colorado (23-12), one of four top seeds in the NIT after being left out of the NCAA Tournament, has now won two NIT games by at least 14 points, having previously handled Texas-Southern 88-74. The Buffalos will next host the winner of Sunday's Fairfield-Kent St. game in the quarterfinals.

Andy_Wooldridge@yahoo.com

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