Conference tournament roundup: Buffs claim Pac-12 crown

Associated Press

Published: Saturday, March 10 2012 11:13 p.m. MST

Colorado's bench reacts to a play during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Arizona in the finals of the Pac-12 conference championship in Los Angeles, Saturday, March 10, 2012. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

Associated Press

LOS ANGELES — Snubbed by the NCAA selection committee last year, then picked to finish next-to-last as a new member of the Pac-12, Colorado had all kinds of grudges going into its matchup against league powerhouse Arizona.

Freshman Spencer Dinwiddie scored 14 points, Carlon Brown added 13 and the Buffaloes won 53-51 in the league's tournament final Saturday to earn the school's first NCAA Tournament bid since 2003.

"If you believe in destiny, you believe in the Colorado Buffaloes because it was meant to be for us," coach Tad Boyle said.

The Buffaloes (23-11) became the first No. 6 seed to win the tournament title since Southern California in 2009 by winning four games in four days, the first time Colorado has done that in the program's 111-year history. The Buffs, who left the Big 12 after last season, were playing in their first tourney final since 1990, when they lost to Oklahoma for the Big Eight championship.

A year ago, Boyle hosted six seniors in his living room for the NCAA selection show. The Buffs never got called, though.

"It was the hardest day. We got shut out. That inspired us," said Boyle, whose current team dedicated the title game to last year's snubbed seniors. "This team wasn't going to be denied."

Arizona's Kyle Fogg scored 14 points, but his off-balance 3-pointer to win missed at the buzzer for the fourth-seeded Wildcats (23-11) in what may have been the league's last tourney at Staples Center. After 11 years, the event could be moved to Las Vegas.

The Buffs lack any tradition in their new conference, but they didn't lack fans. Their student section, flown in by the school, was loud all week, and they proudly displayed a homemade sign reading Welcome to Coors Event Center West.

Brown, a former University of Utah player who was named the tournament's outstanding player, rewarded the Buffs' backers with 48 seconds left. The senior from nearby Riverside, Calif., powered his way around Jordin Mayes and slammed down a one-handed windmill dunk, eliciting raucous cheers as Arizona called timeout.

Hill's layup drew the Wildcats to 53-51 with 20 seconds left. Buffs senior Austin Dufault missed two free throws with 14 seconds to go, giving Arizona a final chance to win. But Fogg's shot was left of the basket and time expired, setting off a wild celebration on court.

Big 12 Championship

No. 5 MISSOURI 90, No. 12 BAYLOR 75: At Kansas City, Mo., Kim English capped a phenomenal conference tournament with 19 points, Phil Pressey added 15 points and eight assists, and the fifth-ranked Tigers beat the 12th-ranked Bears on Saturday night to win their second Big 12 championship in the past four years.

The Tigers (30-4), who led from start to finish, will head off to the Southeastern Conference next year savoring a title in coach Frank Haith's first season in charge.

English wound up 29-of-40 from the field in a virtuoso performance in Kansas City. Michael Dixon added 17 points, and Ricardo Ratliffe and Marcus Denmon had 15 each.

Perry Jones III led Baylor (27-7) with 16 points and 11 rebounds, but the Bears fell short in their bid for the school's first conference tournament title since 1950.

ACC Semifinals

No. 4 NORTH CAROLINA 69, N.C. State: At Atlanta, Kendall Marshall banked in a shot with 10.2 seconds remaining and No. 4 North Carolina edged North Carolina State in a rugged game to advance to the championship game of the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament.

C.J. Leslie, who led the Wolfpack (22-12) with 22 points, fouled out with more than eight minutes remaining. North Carolina (29-4) lost its top scorer when Tyler Zeller picked up his fifth late in the game after scoring 23 points.

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