INDIANAPOLIS (AP) Marquette showed resolve in critical moments and avoided another early exit from March Madness.

Tyler Kolek had 21 points and 11 assists, and David Joplin made two free throws with 7.4 seconds left to help the Golden Eagles finally put away Colorado 81-77 on Sunday in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.

In their third season under coach Shaka Smart, the second-seeded Golden Eagles (27-9) reached the Sweet 16 for the first time since 2013 by outlasting the 10th-seeded Buffaloes (26-11) and their dynamic offense.

A year earlier, Marquette was also seeded No. 2 but was eliminated in the second round by No. 10 seed Michigan State. The Golden Eagles put that disappointment behind them by responding to every big shot by the Buffs with one of their own.

“We've had some adversity,” Smart said, “but the guys have never wavered in terms of their belief in our playing and our way and they stayed connected with one another. ... And I think that won us the game today.”

Kam Jones scored 18 points and Joplin finished with 14 for Marquette, which shot 61.8% from the field but still couldn’t shake Colorado until the closing seconds. Chase Ross made a tiebreaking 3-pointer off a pass from Kolek with 2:53 left and finished with 12 points on 5-of-6 shooting.

“Coach always preaches ‘eff it’ shooting, so when I got it, it was ‘eff it’ and it went in,” Ross said.

KJ Simpson scored 20 points and Tristan da Silva had 17 for Colorado, which trailed by 11 at halftime but rallied to take a 55-54 lead just over five minutes into the second half. Kolek put the Golden Eagles back on top with a short jumper and Marquette never trailed again, but Colorado tied it twice, the last time on a 3-pointer by da Silva with 4:02 remaining.

“We all just had the mentality of ‘I'm not giving up.’ We've done that throughout the whole year,” Simpson said. “That was just the mindset, that we can go out there and we can still come back and never give up and never give up on the effort. We did that, we just came up short.”

The Buffs trailed 79-77 and had to foul three times before putting Joplin on the line for a 1-and-1. He knocked down both and set up a South Region semifinal meeting with No. 11 seed North Carolina State in Dallas on Friday.

Playing his second game since an oblique injury that sidelined him for six contests, Kolek was efficient for the Golden Eagles. The nation's leader in assists at 7.8 per game, he shot 10 of 14 from the floor and routinely found open teammates.

The senior scored Marquette's final basket with flair. Kolek drove the baseline and circled back into the lane before lofting a jumper over Eddie Lampkin Jr. for a three-point edge.

“The big fella switched up and I was getting to my spot and just floated it up,” Kolek said.

Lampkin scored 13 points and Cody Williams had 12 for the Buffs, who had already set a program record for victories and were playing their third game in five days. They topped Boise State in the First Four and then beat Florida 102-100 in one of the most entertaining games of the first round.

This one might have been even better.

Marquette led 45-34 at halftime but da Silva and Simpson came out firing in the second half. They combined for five 3-pointers during a 21-9 run over the first 5:19.

It was the fifth consecutive single-digit margin for the Buffaloes, who concluded their season with six games in 11 days, winning four. And they nearly pulled out another victory against a Marquette team that seemingly couldn't miss.

“When a team shoots 61% against you for the game, almost 62%, and you’ve still got a chance at the end, it means you’re doing something right,” Buffs coach Tad Boyle said. “We rebounded the ball well, we fought, we battled. ... I've got a lot of respect for Marquette.”


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