BOULDER, Colo. (AP)—With Kansas leading by one point, Colorado worked the ball to its best player, who shot a baseline jumper that hit nothing but air. Moments later, Keith Langford of the Jayhawks made a nearly impossible 10-foot runner to set up a three-point play.
Not only was that the key sequence in a 76-61 victory for No. 2 Kansas on Saturday, it was the kind of game-changing series that often illustrates the difference between the great programs and the ones that long to be.
“Sometimes, you’re just overmatched,” Colorado coach Ricardo Patton said. “There’s a reason they’re the number two team in the country.”
Playing his second game with a soft cast on his broken left thumb, Wayne Simien led the Jayhawks (13-0, 3-0 Big 12) with 23 points and 17 rebounds.
Langford’s three-point play after Chris Copeland’s miss was part of a 14-point afternoon during which he came through big seemingly every time things got tight.
“If you want clutch, Keith is your guy,” Simien said. “He not only creates opportunities for himself, he creates opportunities for others in clutch situations.”
The Buffs (8-6, 0-3) played what is annually their biggest home game of the season in front of a packed crowd, at least half of which was cheering for the Jayhawks. Those fans saw their team stay on their best start since opening 22-0 in 1996-97. Kansas, which has “dominated the Buffaloes since the beginning of time,” according to the Colorado game notes, won for the 31st time in the last 32 games of this series.
“Their guys just made plays,” Copeland said. “I think everyone can see we played hard. They have great players and they came through.”
Indeed, this one wasn’t as easy as the final score indicated, and at times things looked uncomfortable in the KU camp.
Behind Simien’s nice effort, Kansas took a 17-point lead in the first half, but the Jayhawks still received a major tongue lashing in the locker room at halftime.
During Colorado’s comeback early in the second half, Kansas coach Bill Self pulled Langford—who is already in his doghouse for comments he made about officiating last week—and the two had an animated argument on the bench.
Shortly afterward, Langford started dominating.
The senior guard, coming off a concussion last Sunday in a win at No. 9 Kentucky, converted his three-point play with 10 1/2 minutes left. On Kansas’ next trip down, Langford hit a 3-pointer to put the Jayhawks ahead 51-46. A few minutes later, he somehow got another runner to fall as he was being smothered to start a 9-0 run that put the game out of reach.
“He labored all day, and we weren’t getting rebounds and the altitude affected us,” Self said. “But when it got to one point, Langford really came through and made some big shots.”
Led by Glean Eddy’s relentless work, the Buffs grabbed 22 offensive rebounds to stay competitive despite missing a variety of open shots, especially in the first half, when they went 8-for-34 from the field.
Eddy finished with five points and 12 boards, six on the offensive glass. Copeland had 22 points and 11 rebounds and Richard Roby scored 14 points for Colorado.
“We definitely didn’t shoot well from the field,” Roby said. “Good teams have to find a way to win games if the jump shots aren’t falling.”
Kansas did just that despite a scare—the kind the Jayhawks have grown used to over the years of getting their opponents’ best efforts.
“I don’t like coaching close games, so I think the players do it to mess with me a little,” Self said. “Copeland played good and Roby is going to be a terrific player. They deserve credit for making it a close game, as well.”