March Madness: Tyler Kolek posts a double-double as No. 2 Marquette beats No. 7 Colorado 81-77

Tyler Kolek showed just how valuable he is for No. 2 Marquette on Sunday.

Kolek scored 19 points and hit a floater in the lane to give the Golden Eagles a three-point lead over No. 7 Colorado with 54 seconds to go in their 81-77 win over the Buffaloes.

Colorado’s Cody Williams went to the free-throw line with 21.2 seconds to go but made just one of his two shots. As the Buffaloes trailed by two following Williams’ make, they were in a bind because they had committed just three fouls and needed to commit four more to get Marquette to the line in the final seconds.

As Colorado frantically applied pressure to Marquette in the backcourt, the Eagles’ ball movement helped drain time from the clock. By the time Colorado had committed a seventh foul, just 7.4 seconds remained.

That seventh foul sent David Joplin to the line, and he calmly drained both his shots to give Marquette a two-possession lead.

In addition to leading Marquette with 19 points, Kolek also dished out 11 assists and had five rebounds. It was his second game back with the Eagles after he missed the end of the regular season and the entire Big East tournament because of an oblique injury.

“Getting this guy back right on time was perfect for us,” Marquette coach Shaka Smart said to CBS after the game.

Marquette didn’t look like a national title contender without Kolek in the lineup. The Eagles lost to Creighton and UConn by a combined 21 points in the first two games he missed and then UConn beat Marquette by 16 in the Big East tournament title game.

On Friday, Kolek scored 18 points and dished out 11 assists in the Eagles’ first-round win over Western Kentucky.

And thanks to this win, Marquette is now in the Sweet 16 for the first time since 2013 and has a serious case for the Final Four.

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