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Mar 24, 2024 3:37 pm

Tyler Kolek helps Marquette stave off upstart Colorado

Tyler Kolek

INDIANAPOLIS — Tyler Kolek recorded 21 points, 11 assists and five rebounds to lead second-seeded Marquette to an 81-77 victory over 10th-seeded Colorado on Sunday in a South Region second-round game.

David Joplin secured the win by making two free throws with 7.4 seconds remaining to send the Golden Eagles (27-9) to the Sweet 16. Marquette will face No. 11 North Carolina State on Friday in Dallas.

“I’m just so grateful for our guys, the way they hung in there. Colorado made a heck of a run. That’s about as good of a 10 seed as I’ve ever seen in my life,” Marquette coach Shaka Smart said. “Down the stretch we got enough defensive stops to win the game. It certainly wasn’t our best defensive half, but the activity that our guys had throughout the game was disruptive enough, and then two huge, huge free throws by David Joplin.”

Kam Jones scored 16 of his 18 points in the first half to lead the Golden Eagles to an 11-point lead at halftime.

Tristan da Silva’s 3-pointer from the top of the circle tied the game for Colorado at 74-74 with 4:02 remaining.

Coming out of a timeout, Chase Ross hit a 3-pointer from the left wing to give Marquette the lead before KJ Simpson answered to draw the Buffs within one.

Kolek drove the paint with a one-handed floater to give the Golden Eagles a 79-76 lead. Cody Williams had a chance to bring Colorado back within one with 21.2 seconds left but converted only the back end of two free throws.

“We know what’s at stake. This isn’t a time to be joking around,” Kolek said. “I like to have fun, but when it comes to crunch time, you’ve got to be serious. It’s win or go home. That’s all it is.”

Simpson, who won Friday’s game with a buzzer-beating sideline jumper, led Colorado (26-11) with 20 points. da Silva added 17 for the Buffaloes, who fell just short of reaching the Sweet 16 for the first time since 1969.

“We knew we weren’t playing our best game,” da Silva said. “It kind of felt like we were supposed to be down 20 or 25 the way we were playing. We kind of had a sense or had a feeling that it was in our hands to kind of turn this game around, and we had all the confidence to come out in the second half and battle the way we did.”

Marquette raced out to a 22-11 lead thanks to red-hot shooting. The Golden Eagles sank 16 of 21 shots from the field to start the game and ended the half 19 of 28 from the floor.

The Golden Eagles hit their first 12 attempts from inside the arc and finished the first half 13-of-15 from 2-point range.

Jones led the way with 16 points in the first half, shooting 6-of-9, including four 3-pointers.

But Marquette ended the half on an 8-2 run on baskets by four different players and led 45-34 at the break.

The Buffs picked up momentum in the opening minute of the second half as Jones committed his third personal foul. Colorado went on a 21-9 run to take its only lead at 55-54 on Simpson’s fourth 3-pointer.

“We didn’t have much of an answer for them defensively all night,” Colorado coach Tad Boyle said. “I would just say that when a team shoots 61 percent against you for the game, almost 62 percent, and you’ve still got a chance at the end, it means you’re doing something right.

“For this team, what that means to me is they’ve been competing their tails off the whole year because you don’t give up 61 percent and stay in a game. But we rebounded the ball well, we fought, we battled, we just came up a little bit short,” he added.

–Mike Petraglia, Field Level Media

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