|Thursday, March 13
Wright banks in winning 3-pointer for Colorado
DALLAS -- All Pervis Pasco had to do was stand still. Or dribble. Anything but walk!
Pasco's interception of an inbounds pass in the final three seconds against Colorado should've given Kansas State an upset victory in the first round of the Big 12 tournament. Instead, he raised his arm in celebration and started to leave the court when referees whistled him for traveling.
Given yet another chance, the Buffaloes made the Wildcats pay as James Wright banked in a 3-pointer at the buzzer for a miraculous 77-76 victory Thursday night.
"I was just lucky it went in,'' said Wright, adding that he'd never hit a game-winner before. "It wasn't designed for me. I just set a screen, came off and I was wide open.''
Wright's shot was one of many incredible aspects of Colorado's win, its 20th of the season. But Pasco's premature celebration will certainly be the lasting memory.
"You can't really blame it on one thing that happened,'' said teammate Matt Siebrandt, whose free throws with 48 seconds left had put Kansas State up 74-72. "A lot of freak things took place.''
Wright was involved in all of them.
After Frank Richards put the Wildcats up 76-74 with a driving layup through traffic with 3.3 seconds left, all the Wildcats had to do was defend the inbounds pass and they would've become the first 11th seed to win a game in the 7-year history of the tournament.
Wright threw it in and it was swatted out of bounds. The scoreboard initially read 1.8 seconds left, but officials changed it to 2.6.
So Wright tried again, this time heaving it about 60 feet down the right sideline. It went over the head of Blair Wilson and right into Pasco's hands, leading to his victory stroll.
In the confusion, officials watched a replay and bumped the clock from 0.9 seconds to 1.8, although Kansas State fans were teased when they saw it briefly set at 0.2.
Wildcats coach Jim Wooldridge said he expected the clock to be reset to the point where the whistle was blown, not the time when Pasco traveled. He wasn't sure which was done.
"Not much of an explanation was given to me,'' Wooldridge said.
The Buffs, who were out of timeouts, took advantage of the delay to draw up their third inbounds play.
This time, Glean Eddy tossed it in. Wright worked his way open and fired up his fifth 3-point try of the game.
The red light surrounding the backboard indicating time had expired clicked on while the ball was in the air. It hit the glass and went in, prompting a wild celebration on that end of the court and stunned silence on the other side.
"I didn't call bank,'' Wright said. "It was all luck. I guess it was just meant for us to win.''
Gilson DeJesus pulled his Wildcats jersey over his head as he walked off slowly. One disgruntled fan heaved a cup of beer onto the court.
"It was right there in our hands,'' DeJesus said. "We just lost it.''
"I'm just blank right now,'' teammate Jarrett Hart said. "I never saw the ball go through the net. All I remember was seeing the red light.''
To Colorado, this was payback for a 71-70 loss to Georgia in the fourth game of the season when Jonas Hayes hit a 3-pointer with 0.2 left.
"You just hope they go in,'' CU coach Ricardo Patton said. "You don't count on those.''
Maybe the NCAA selection committee would throw out the Georgia game anyway because of its problems. That's probably moot now.
CU now has 20 wins, has beaten four Top 25 teams (Kansas, Texas, Missouri and Oklahoma State) and gets another chance Friday night against No. 6 Oklahoma.
Colorado also is playing well at the right time, having won four straight and five of six. The Buffaloes are having their best season since the 1996-97 team won 22. That also was the last Colorado team to make the NCAA field.
"These young men are creating memories,'' Patton said. "Sometimes I talk about my basketball-playing days and they laugh. I tell them one day you will be just like me with only memories. We are trying to create fond memories.''
The Buffs led by 10 most of the first half, then Kansas State rallied to go ahead by three at halftime. The Wildcats remained ahead until there was 7:52 remaining.
Colorado was big man David Harrison, who had 21 points, eight rebounds and seven blocks, fouled out with 1:37 left. Siebrandt, who drew the foul, walked away smiling and was even happier when his free throws put K-State back ahead.
The Buffs tied it again when leading scorer Michel Morandais, who was only 3-of-10, rebounded his own miss and was fouled with 20.9 seconds left. He made both -- although the second one drew iron and glass first -- then Richards answered with the near game-winner.
As incredible as the finish was, and as close as the game was throughout, the atmosphere didn't match. There was only about 5,000 of the announced crowd of 12,200 left inside American Airlines Center by game's end.
Morandais had 14 points, eight from the foul line, and Lamar Harris had 10 points and 11 rebounds. Wright had 11 points.
Tim Ellis, who had scored a total of 27 points the last six games, scored 17 to lead the Wildcats. Richards had 15 and DeJesus had 10 points and eight rebounds.
Close losses were the hallmark of their season, with this one certainly making for a fitting but bittersweet end to their season. Kansas State finishes with losses in 11 of its last 13. KSU had won four of its last five opening-round games in the conference tournament, including the last two under Wooldridge.
Colorado won for only the sixth time away from its home court.