Buffs tip off Big 12 play

The Colorado men's basketball team hasn't been to the postseason since the 2005-06 season and it hasn't been to the NCAA Tournament since 2003. The Buffs must pull off plenty of surprise victories in the Big 12 Conference to get there this season. The first opportunity comes against No. 8 Missouri at the Coors Events Center.

Colorado hasn't won much in the Big 12 Conference in recent years as the program has struggled through the final years under Ricardo Patton and the transition to former coach Jeff Bzdelik. The Buffs haven't won at all in Big 12 openers for 13 consecutive years dating back to the 1997-98 season.

Now Tad Boyle gets his shot at leading the silver, black and gold out of the cellar and back to respectability in the Buffs' final year in the league.

The league opener should be high scoring and entertaining. It features two of the top seven scoring teams in the nation. Missouri ranks fifth in scoring at 86 points a game and the Buffs are seventh at 84 points.

Beating Missouri might be a tall order for a Colorado team lacking quality depth and a significant presence in the paint.

The game features two of the 30 players named to the Wooden Award midseason list this week. Colorado sophomore Alec Burks and Missouri junior Marcus Denmon are both leading their teams in scoring.

Denmon is making 50 percent of his shots from the field and from behind the 3-point line, while averaging more than 17 points a game. The Buffs must find a way to slow him down.

Burks is averaging 19 points a game and has led the Buffs in scoring nine times this season.

Missouri has won eight consecutive games in the series and is a big favorite coming in with a 14-1 overall record. However, the Tigers never had won a Big 12 Conference opener that has been played on the road. They are 0-4 in such situations.

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