MANHATTAN, Kan. -- The Buffs were out of sync.

Colorado committed a season-high 20 turnovers, went 12-for-21 at the free-throw line and scored 10 points under its average.

Alec Burks, the reigning Big 12 Player of the Week, finished with 12 points on 4-for-15 shooting.

Cory Higgins only took four shots.

And Tad Boyle`s team still found a way to upset No. 21 Kansas State on Wednesday night at Bramlage Coliseum.

Defense and rebounding. The Buffs are 2-0 in the Big 12 using the simple formula that can cover up blemishes on a bad night.

"We turned the ball over 13 times and it`s tied at halftime. We were lucky to be in that position," Boyle said after gutty CU`s 74-66 win.

Colorado guard Levi Knutson (24) makes a basket while covered by Kansas State guard Juevol Myles (4) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball
Colorado guard Levi Knutson (24) makes a basket while covered by Kansas State guard Juevol Myles (4) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Wednesday, Jan. 12, 2011, in Manhattan, Kan. Knutson scored 20 points in the game. Colorado defeated Kansas State 74-66. (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner) ( Orlin Wagner )
"We talked about how we`ve got to gain confidence from that. We can play with these guys, we can rebound, we just need to take better care of the ball on the road."

The Buffs settled down and methodically built a 12-point lead after the intermission by getting stops and dominating the glass.

Andre Roberson had nine rebounds and a key 3-pointer off the bench.

"He grew up tonight," Boyle said of the freshman forward who leads the team in rebounding. "And this is a man`s league."

Burks made up for his rare offensive struggles with seven boards as CU out-rebounded the Wildcats 38-29 and held them to 40.4 percent shooting.

"Our motto is just give it all on the defensive end and let the offense take care of itself," Higgins said after grabbing nine rebounds of his own. "We were just focused on holding their field goal percentage down and out-rebounding them, which we did. And we ended up winning the game."

After a basket by Dufault to start the game the Buffs -- ranked seventh nationally for fewest turnovers per game (10.9) -- had seven turnovers in the first five minutes and trailed 10-4.

Higgins picked up his first foul moments later. A basket by Martavious Irving gave the Wildcats a 14-4 lead with 13:44 to go in the first half and forced Boyle to call a timeout.

Marcus Relphorde ended a CU scoring drought of 4:40 with a basket but Irving answered with a 3-pointer to make the score 17-6.

The Buffs calmed down and tied the score 24-24 with a 7-0 run highlighted by a Levi Knutson make from behind the arc.

The teams exchanged 9-0 runs -- K-State led 33-24 with 3:11 left -- and went into the halftime locker rooms tied 33-33.

"Their guys went and battled and our guys did not," K-State head coach Frank Martin said. "We stood and watched. Rebounding is an effort play, it`s a discipline play. We have to be able to lay the wood on people and we do not lay the wood on anybody."

Cats missing Kelly

A member of the student`s section held up a sign that read: Free Curt.

Kansas State was without senior Curtis Kelly, who was serving the final game of a six-game suspension by the NCAA for receiving improper benefits. He will return to the lineup on Saturday against Texas Tech.

Kelly, a 6-foot-8 forward, did not play in the first three games of the season due to coach`s decision. He was averaging 10.3 points and 4.0 rebounds through eight games before the suspension.

Jacob Pullen, the Big 12`s preseason player of the year, served a three-game suspension for his involvement in the same incident. The senior point guard, who averaged 22.0 points and 3.0 assists in his first two games back, finished with 22 points and six assists.

Buffs bigs watch

Meanwhile, the Buffs had some sizable depth available off the bench. Boyle stuck with a smaller eight-man rotation.

Trey Eckloff, who did not suit up for the Missouri game due to a sprained ankle, warmed up but did not see any action. Trent Beckley, who returned to the team this semester, made the trip but did not play. And Ben Mills, the 7-foot freshman, also played the role of cheerleader.

Change of plans

CU assistant coach Jean Prioleau did not make the trip because his wife, Janelle, gave birth to their son, Elijah, early Friday morning.

"He is where he needs to be," a proud Boyle said.

Prioleau was in charge of scouting Kansas State and handed the report over to assistant Mike Rohn before Friday`s practice. 

Series update

Kansas State leads the all-time series 97-45, including a 54-11 advantage in Manhattan.

The Wildcats -- who visit Boulder for the final time as a conference foe on Feb. 12 -- had won the previous nine meetings.

CU and K-State first played in 1933 and have met in each of the last 62 seasons as conference rivals, a streak that will end with the Buffs` move to the Pac-12 next season.

Since the formation of the Big 12, the Wildcats hold a slim 16-15 edge.