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LAS VEGAS (AP) — Rarely does a turning point come immediately after the opposition's field goal.
That's what happened for Colorado — and against Penn State Tuesday night.
Brandon Taylor hit a wide-open 3-pointer that put Penn State up three with over 16 minutes left, then followed his shot by yelling at a referee as he jogged back upcourt — drawing a technical foul and with it, his fourth personal and found himself on the Nittany Lion bench while Colorado ran off eight straight points.
The Buffaloes held on in the final seconds for a 71-70 win over Penn State in the Las Vegas Classic at the Orleans Arena.
Josh Scott scored 18, grabbed 8 rebounds and had 4 blocks to lead Colorado (11-1).
Josh Fortune had 13 points while Dominique Collier had 12 as the Buffaloes won their 11th straight.
Colorado received votes in this week's Associated Press poll and has the fifth longest winning streak in team history. This is Colorado's best start since 1941-42, when it began 14-0 and eventually went to the Final Four.
"I told the team that you have to figure out a way to win games on a 30-game schedule when you don't play your best," said Colorado coach Tad Boyle, who added that Taylor's technical was the turning point. "We played good enough to win. Penn State had a good game plan. They tried to keep us off balance with their different zones and man. We made just enough shots. We figured out a way."
Colorado now faces No. 18 SMU in the championship contest Wednesday night. Boyle faces Hall of Fame coach Larry Brown, who returned from his nine-game NCAA suspension Tuesday night as his Mustangs (11-0) topped Kent State.
"Larry has been so instrumental in my life," Boyle said. "It's an honor. We have to execute better and have a better start."
PENN STATE'S EFFORTS
Shep Garner led Penn State (8-4) with 26 points, while Payton Banks added 14 and six rebounds.
"We knew it was a matter of time before they hit shots," said Penn State coach Patrick Chambers, whose team led throughout the first half. "I was really proud of our team. We probably stayed in zone a little too long, but we were in foul trouble. Foul trouble hurt us. I thought the key to game was Brandon Taylor's technical. That was disruptive for us."
THE FINAL FOUR
Colorado built its largest lead at 64-53 with 4 minutes left. But the Nittany Lions trimmed it to 68-65 with 26 seconds left. With 21 seconds left in, Collier hit 1 of 2 free throws to make it 69-65. Garner responded on a driving right-side layup with :15 left. After George King converted two free throws for Colorado, Garner hit a wild desperation three with 1.1 seconds left, 71-70, but Penn State could not foul before the final buzzer.
The Buffaloes have been averaging 88.1 points in their win streak.
Meanwhile, Penn State had won six of its last seven and were holding opponents to 64.7 points per game. The Nittany Lions were making their first trip to the Pacific Time Zone since 2001-02.
LONG TIME AGO
This was the first meeting between the teams since the Jan. 2, 1939. Colorado won that only previous meeting, 29-26 in a neutral site game in Hershey, Pa.
Colorado takes on SMU in the last game of the day, while Penn State plays Kent State in the consolation game.
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