Tournament has share of upsets, nail-biters so far

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — With only three ranked Big 12 teams, it looked like the early rounds of the conference tournament might turn into blowouts.

So far, that scenario has not materialized. Of eight first- and second-round games, half came down to the last possession, and the average final score separating teams at the Sprint Center is nine points.

It all started on Wednesday. Oklahoma State, a No. 9 seed, held on for a last-second win when eight-seeded Nebraska couldn’t get off a final shot. Also in the first round, Colorado squeaked by Iowa State 77-75 while Missouri needed a defensive rebound and some late free throws to ensure its win over Texas Tech.

On Thursday, the higher seed trailed for at least a portion of the first two games, and the tournament’s No. 1 overall team, Kansas, escaped with a 63-62 win over Oklahoma State.

“Look at the games in the tournament so far,” said Kansas coach Bill Self. “It’s been great.”

It’s hard to predict today’s games as well. Kansas faces Colorado, a team which it crushed three weeks ago but defeated by only four points in January. In addition, the Jayhawks are shooting 41.6 percent from the field over the last three contests — almost ten points lower than their season average.

Texas faces Texas A&M, a team which it beat twice this season, but the two schools share a heated rivalry that usually manifests itself in close games.

<strong> TEXAPATHY </strong>

Following Texas’ 74-54 win over Oklahoma, J’Covan Brown pulled up a chair right in front of the TV in the Longhorn locker room.

He wasn’t interested in checking out his next opponent, as the Missouri-Texas A&M game was about to begin. He was checking out the rematch of LeBron and the Heat against Kobe and the Lakers.

“It doesn’t matter who comes next,” said guard Dogus Balbay. “We have to stay focused. That’s the key.

The Longhorns eventually found out that they will play the Aggies for the third time this season. Texas swept the regular season series with ease, winning by an average of 20.5 points.

A&M crushed Missouri 82-71 on Thursday.

<strong> BUFFALO SOLDIERS </strong>

In their final season playing in the Big 12, the Buffaloes are still making firsts.

By beating Kansas State on Thursday, Colorado is heading to the third round of the conference tournament for the first time in program history. It will also be the last time the Buffs make it this far, as they depart for the Pac-10 after this season.

Before this, the closest they’ve ever gotten were second-round losses against Oklahoma in 2008 and Oklahoma State in 2005.
“It’s everything,” said Colorado coach Tad Boyle. “We came here with the goal to win the tournament and to do it with the guys around me… It means a lot to me.”

Colorado is also considered a lock for an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament, with a resume that includes wins over K-State (three times) and Texas plus nonconference opponents Indiana and Colorado State.