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January 8, 2011

Missouri drops conference opener

BOULDER, Colo. (AP) Super sophomore Alec Burks scored a career-high 36 points and the Colorado Buffaloes upset ninth-ranked Missouri 89-76 in their final Big 12 opener.

The Buffaloes (12-4, 1-0), who join the expanded Pac-12 next season, snapped a streak of 13 straight losses in conference openers going back to 1997.

The Tigers (14-2, 0-1) had won nine straight games overall and nine in a row against the Buffaloes, whose last win over a top-10 team was a 93-80 upset of third-ranked Texas on Feb. 4, 2003.

Burks' previous career best was a 29-point effort at San Francisco on Nov. 20.

The Buffs took control early on behind Burks and a solid supporting cast. Cory Higgins scored 18, Levi Knutson added 13 and Austin Dufault had 12. Michael Dixon Jr.'s 17 points led the Tigers.

The Buffaloes led by 12 at the half and were up 18 early in the second half before the Tigers charged back, pulling to 79-72 with two minutes left on Marcus Denmon's three-point play.

Missouri, which was outrebounded 47-33, couldn't get any closer.

While Burks was shooting a technical foul, Tigers coach Mike Anderson was at halfcourt with his players and chirping at an official. Burks sank one of two, then hit a jumper to make it 82-72.

The Buffs closed it out with a 10-4 run that had the Coors Events Center rocking.

Knutson's 3-pointer gave Colorado its biggest lead at 63-45, but the Buffaloes aren't accustomed to playing with such a big lead over such a good team and they got sloppy and the Tigers started chipping away.

Kim English's 3-pointer following an errant 3-pointer by Knutson pulled the Tigers to 65-52. Laurence Bowers sank a free throw, then scored a basket following a backcourt steal and Dixon's bucket made it 69-58 with eight minutes left.

The Tigers cut the deficit to single digits on Dixon's two free throws with 6:38 remaining that made it 71-62, but Higgins' high-bank shot off a drive to the hoop restored the double-digit lead for Colorado heading into the five-minute mark.

The lead was eight when the Burks got the inbounds with 1 second on the shot clock, spun and swished a basket that made it 77-67.

With 20 first-half points, Burks surpassed his season average of 19 points in the first 20 minutes.

Burks sparked two separate 15-2 runs in the first half, the second one which led to a 46-34 halftime lead.



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