BOULDER, Colo. -- Coach Jeff Bzdelik relished his Colorado squad's breakthrough win against a ranked opponent but also recognized it as just one more step in the development of his program.
"We need more milestones," said Bzdelik, who's in his third season as Colorado's coach.
Getting 18 points from Cory Higgins -- 16 of them in the second half -- Colorado upset Baylor (No. 24 ESPN/USA Today) 78-71 on Tuesday night, ending a nine-game winless streak stretching back three years against ranked opponents.
"We've been playing pretty well and we're getting better and we just need to continue to do that," Bzdelik said. "To be able to get rewarded with a great win for the efforts that our players are making to improve, that's huge. We kind of broke through ... but this can't just be a one-time thing."
At least it's a start.
"I think we have been building more and more confidence," Higgins said. "We know we can play with anyone. Unlike in the past, we expect to win these games. It's a lot different this year.
"It's been a tough stretch this past couple of years and I feel like we're breaking through that door," added Higgins.
Marcus Relphorde added 17 points and Alec Burks 16 for Colorado (10-6, 1-1 Big 12), which improved to 9-0 at home. The Buffaloes punctuated their best home start in 18 years with their first win over a ranked team since beating Oklahoma State 84-75 on Feb. 15, 2007. The Cowboys were ranked 18th then.
Baylor (13-2, 1-1) saw its nine-game winning streak snapped. The Bears were led by LaceDarius Dunn's 23 points in losing for just the fourth time in their last 24 games. Ekpe Udoh had 14 points, all in the second half, and Tweety Carter had 13.
"You really have to give Colorado credit in that second half because we didn't play as well as we could defensively and they made the shots at the end of the day," Baylor coach Scott Drew said. "And some of them were tough shots. I think they earned it and I think we have to get better."
Drew said Baylor was especially hurt by its turnovers -- the Bears had 18 to Colorado's 5.
"This game can be a great learning tool," Drew said. "This was the first time we have had a close road game. There are a lot of things we can go forward with and improve upon."
Trailing by five at halftime, Colorado forged a 38-all tie with 15:07 remaining when Relphorde hit a baseline jumper off a feed from Higgins.
Dunn connected on a 3-pointer to give Baylor a 51-50 lead with 7:25 left. Colorado answered with a 9-0 run that Dwight Thorne II touched off with a baseline jumper.
Dunn's three-point play pulled Baylor to within 59-54 with 5:04 remaining before Colorado edged away again when Relphorde made a 3-pointer to extend the Buffaloes' advantage to 64-55 with 2:40 remaining.
The Bears pressed Colorado in the closing minutes but Higgins broke through the frenzied defense for a fastbreak layup and the Buffaloes made 12 of 18 free throws in the final minute and a half. That was more than enough to offset three late 3-pointers by the Bears.
Baylor, down by seven midway through the first half, leaned on Dunn's outside shooting to get back in front 32-27 at the break.
Relphorde hit a 3-pointer to put Colorado up 21-14 with 8:01 to go in the opening session but Josh Lomers, who had 10 points, rebounded his missed shot and put it back in.
From there, Dunn went on a torrid streak, draining three consecutive 3-pointers. Flustered, Colorado's Nate Tomlinson fouled Dunn when he drove the lane for a layup. The Baylor guard muscled the shot in and made the free throw that followed to account for 12 of Baylor's points in the 14-3 surge that put Baylor in front, 28-24. It was the Bears' first lead since the opening moments of the game.