It took an improbable 3-pointer at the buzzer for Colorado to end its run of futility against longtime nemesis Kansas.
With 3.0 seconds left in regulation and the score tied at 72, Askia Booker took an inbound pass near mid-court, shook free of his defender and floated a running 3-footer at the rim. To the delight of Booker and his Colorado teammates, the shot found all net, giving the Buffaloes a 75-72 victory and snapping the program's 19-game losing streak at the hands of the Jayhawks.
It wasn’t long ago that Kansas fans would outnumber those from Colorado when the Jayhawks made their annual Big 12 visit to Boulder, but the scene after Booker's shot demonstrated how far the Buffaloes program has come since those days. A crowd that was 90 percent pro-Colorado flooded the Coors Event Center floor in celebration of a Buffaloes team that has been to the NCAA tournament the past two years and has now won nine straight this season after an opening night loss to Baylor.
Booker was an unlikely hero for Colorado simply because his outside shooting has been a nightmare for the past 12 months.
Once a reliable 37.2 percent 3-point shooter as a freshman, Booker has seen his clip from behind the arc dip all the way to 23.8 percent so far this season. Perhaps Saturday will serve as a turning point for Booker because the 6-foot-2 junior scored 15 points and sank three of his six attempts from behind the arc.
Kansas (6-2) had hoped a road win at Colorado would ease some of the concern created by the Jayhawks' poor performance in the Bahamas last week when they lost to Villanova and nearly let a late lead slip away against UTEP. It didn't happen, but Kansas coach Bill Self should at least take some solace at how his young team competed after falling behind by nine midway through the second half.
A 9-0 Kansas run tied the game briefly at 53 and then the Jayhawks had to come back a second time, knotting it at 72 on a Perry Ellis driving layup with four seconds left in the game. Andrew Wiggins had his best game of his Kansas career with an aggressive 22 points on 7 of 11 shooting, while Ellis added 11 and Frank Mason had 10 in his first start at point guard.
Ultimately, however, this was Colorado's day.
With Spencer Dinwiddie, Josh Scott and most of the rest of the key players returning from last season's NCAA tournament team, Colorado appeared capable of challenging Arizona and Oregon in the Pac-12 entering the season. A 9-1 start culminating with this historic win only validates the Buffaloes as one of the West's premier teams.