Colorado March Madness: CU men fall to Marquette in another tight finish

NCAA Colorado Marquette Basketball
Colorado’s KJ Simpson (2) and Marquette’s Oso Ighodaro (13) chase a loose ball during the first half of a second-round college basketball game in the NCAA Tournament, Sunday, March 24, 2024 in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

By Gary B. Graves/AP

The University of Colorado's men's basketball team fell out of March Madness with a loss to two-seed Marquette Sunday, 81-77. The Buffs outperformed expectations in the NCAA Tournament, coming one possession from a Sweet 16 birth after qualifying for the tournament through a play-in match.

The loss leaves the CU women as the only Colorado team in the NCAA Tournaments. They play four-seed Kansas State Sunday. CSU's men's team also fell out of the tournament in the Round of 64 earlier last week.

Tyler Kolek had 21 points and 11 assists, and David Joplin made two free throws with 7.4 seconds left to help Marquette finally put away Colorado.

In their third season under coach Shaka Smart, the second-seeded Golden Eagles (27-9) reached the Sweet 16 for the first time since 2013 by outlasting the 10th-seeded Buffaloes (26-11) and their dynamic offense.

Kam Jones scored 18 points and Joplin finished with 14 for Marquette, which shot 61.8% from the field but still couldn’t shake Colorado until the closing seconds. Chase Ross made a tiebreaking 3-pointer off a pass from Kolek with 2:53 left and finished with 12 points on 5-of-6 shooting.

KJ Simpson scored 20 points and Tristan da Silva had 17 for Colorado, which trailed by 11 at halftime but rallied to take a 55-54 lead just over five minutes into the second half. Kolek put the Golden Eagles back on top with a short jumper and Marquette never trailed again, but Colorado tied it twice, the last time on a 3-pointer by da Silva with 4:02 remaining.

The Buffs trailed 79-77 and had to foul three times before putting Joplin on the line for a 1-and-1. He knocked down both and set up a South Region semifinal meeting with No. 11 seed North Carolina State in Dallas on Friday.

Playing his second game since an oblique injury that sidelined him for six contests, Kolek was efficient for the Golden Eagles, shooting 10 of 14 from the floor and routinely finding open teammates.

Eddie Lampkin Jr. scored 13 points and Cody Williams had 12 for the Buffs, who had already set a program record for victories and were playing their third game in five days. They topped Boise State in the First Four and then beat Florida 102-100 in one of the most entertaining games of the first round.

This one might have been even better.

Marquette led 45-34 at halftime but da Silva and Simpson came out firing in the second half. They combined for five 3-pointers during a 21-9 run over the first 5:19.