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Colorado keeps tourney hopes alive with win over Baylor

DALLAS (AP) -- Colorado came to the Big 12 tournament focused on
making sure an NCAA berth wasn't left to chance. The Buffaloes want
to win and make it automatic.

They almost didn't make it out of the first round Thursday
against 12th-seeded Baylor.

The Buffaloes missed their first 12 shots after halftime and had
to overcome a 7-point deficit with a game-turning run in the final
five minutes for a 65-61 first-round victory.

"We've shown the ability to come back from slow starts," said
Marcus Hall, one of 10 Colorado seniors. "That's where our
maturity comes out. We kept our cool."

Baylor (4-13), trying to become the first No. 12 seed to ever
win in the Big 12 tournament, started the second half with a 10-0
run. The Bears were ahead by as many as nine points and Colorado
kept missing shots until Jayson Obazuaye finally drove for a layup
with 10:45 left.

Hall scored only seven points, but his 3-pointer with five
minutes left got the Buffs (20-8) within 56-52 and ignited a 16-5
run. He made two free throws with 7.9 seconds left, and Baylor
never got off another shot.

Next for Colorado is a quarterfinal game Friday against Texas
A&M (20-7) in what arguably could be an NCAA Tournament elimination
game. The Aggies have won seven straight games, but have never won
in the Big 12 tournament.

"I would be shocked if we weren't already getting serious
(NCAA) consideration," Colorado coach Ricardo Patton said. "I
think this team has done a very nice job so far. That's out of our
hands. ... I think this team has shown that it's worthy of an NCAA
bid."

Colorado beat Baylor 81-48 in January, but things were much
different this time.

The earlier game was only the third of the season for Baylor,
banned from playing non-conference games as part of NCAA penalties
for numerous violations under former coach Dave Bliss. The
violations were discovered after former player Patrick Dennehy was
murdered in the summer of 2003.

"We're just so pleased with what this team has been able to
endure this year because no team has been put in the position we
were," coach Scott Drew said. "I think we've made tremendous
progress. The biggest thing when you're building a program is being
competitive. We've done that."

Down only 33-31, Baylor scored the first 10 points after
halftime, taking advantage of four Colorado turnovers in that
3½-minute spurt.

Aaron Bruce made a tough shot on the Bears' opening possession
to tie the game before freshman Curtis Jerrells had a steal and
breakaway layup to put the Bears in front. Tommy Swanson had a
steal and Bruce assisted on Jerrells' 3-pointer before making one
of his own to make it 41-33.

"Baylor is going to be a team to be reckoned with in the
future," Patton said.

Jerrells led the Bears with 20 points, including their final
five. Bruce, a sophomore, had 15 points, and Patrick Fields 13.

"We're happy with our fight, but it's always tough to be happy
when you lose," Bruce said. "We've shown a lot of progress. You
can see that by us being in position to win."

Chris Copeland had 14 points and Richard Roby 12 for Colorado,
which has its fourth 20-win season -- three in 10 years under
Patton. The Buffs finished the regular season with a 4-5 stretch --
all the losses on the road, four by double figures.

By the 8-minute mark, the Buffs cut the deficit to 47-45 when
Hall's backcourt steal led to Roby's dunk and free throw after
being fouled. Bruce made two free throws with 5:14 left to put
Baylor up 56-49 before six different players scored Colorado's
game-deciding run.

Texas A&M started its winning streak with a 61-58 win over
Colorado on Feb. 8, a game in which the Aggies scored the first 13
points.

"We definitely wanted a second shot at them," Roby said. "We
definitely felt like we should've won that game. A lot of weird
stuff happened at the end. That's one of the road games we felt
like we should've won, so we're looking forward to playing them
again."