BOULDER, Colo. (AP) - Finishing is starting to become a problem for No. 5 Texas.
For the second time in three games, the Longhorns frittered away a big first-half lead and lost a Big 12 road game, this time 91-89 at Colorado on Saturday.
The Buffaloes stormed back from a 22-point first-half deficit and overcame a 48-33 halftime hole behind Alec Burks' 33 points and Levi Knutson's 21.
``The second half we didn't execute and I think they played harder than us and they wanted it more, it seemed like,' Longhorns forward Jordan Hamilton said. ``We didn't run plays, we didn't screen. We went away from what we were doing in the first half.'
For the Longhorns, it was eerily reminiscent of a 70-67 loss at Nebraska a week earlier that prevented Texas (24-5, 12-2 Big 12) from ascending to the top of the college basketball rankings.
This latest loss dropped Texas into a tie for first place in the Big 12 with No. 3 Kansas, which beat Oklahoma 82-70.
``It's not like we lost a ton-load of games. We've only lost two games,' Hamilton said. ``... But I think it's good for us. We've just got to get back to the drawing board. We're not as good as we thought.'
In beating their third Top 25 opponent this season, the Buffaloes (18-11, 7-7) regrouped at halftime and put on a second-half show in pushing the pace and giving first-year coach Tad Boyle his biggest win yet.
``I didn't yell and scream. I probably should have,' Boyle said of his halftime message. ``I didn't know what to expect coming out at halftime. But our guys, they delivered.'
``A sense of urgency kicked in,' Buffaloes senior Cory Higgins said.
And everything starting going Colorado's way.
``It seemed like they had more freedom in the second half. Transition 3s, just driving, like playing open gym, really,' lamented Longhorns forward Gary Johnson. ``That seemed like the kind of team they turned into in the second half.'
The Horns? They suddenly looked like the kids who entertained the crowd during a timeout by donning oversized uniforms and shoes and trying to score a basket.
``I really think it's very simple: the team that played for 40 minutes won the game,' Texas coach Rick Barnes said. ``I didn't feel like we had a real sense of urgency from the get-go.
``We didn't play with purpose, that was the problem. We got a lead early in the game and I've seen them evaporate quickly, but you can certainly help the cause by not making them defend and simply not executing. We didn't. We simply didn't execute.'
While the Buffs were storming back behind Burks, who scored 24 after halftime, including 11 during a 14-0 spurt, the Longhorns were going 1 for 17 from the field during a brutal 25-possession stretch.
When it was over, the Buffs had built an 81-70 lead on Austin Dufault's tip-in with less than 3 minutes left.
But Texas, led by 21 points each from Hamilton and J'Covan Brown, didn't go down quietly.
Brown hit three free throws with 38 seconds left to make it 85-80. After Knutson's two free throws, Hamilton's 3-pointer with 30 seconds left pulled Texas to 87-83.
Higgins stepped on the baseline on the inbounds, turning the ball over with 29 seconds left, but Hamilton was long on a 3-pointer and Burks corralled his 10th rebound.
He missed his eighth free throw, however, before making one for an 88-83 cushion.
Hamilton's long 3-pointer made it a two-point game with 18 seconds left. Burks was fouled again with 14 seconds remaining and this time he made both for a 90-86 lead.
Hamilton misfired a 3-pointer and Higgins hit one of two foul shots, and Cory Joseph hit an uncontested 3 at the buzzer as the student section at the record fourth sellout at the Coors Events Center this season stormed the court.
The Buffs tied their school record with their 14th win at home and ended a six-game skid against Texas, which led 43-21.
Colorado outrebounded Texas 43-39 and outshot the 'Horns 53 percent to 42 percent.
``Mentality,' Boyle said. ``We don't have better athletes. We don't have more size. We just battled them. And that's the competing I was talking about at halftime. ... Shows you what we're capable of.
``It's a marquee win, goes to the top of our resume.'
And to the bottom of the Longhorns', right alongside that loss at Nebraska.
``I think it's human nature when a team gets up and thinks it's going to be easy,' Barnes said. ``If I were coaching against us, I would tell them that if they could get a lead there is always a chance to come back because we haven't proven yet that we can sustain it.'
The Associated Press News Service
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