Buffs building something special

After two wins over ranked opponents to open its final season in the Big 12 Conference, Colorado is the surprise team in men's basketball in the league.

Yes, it's early. We realize there are 14 regular-season games left on the Big 12 schedule before we even get to the conference tournament in March. Certainly plenty of time for the Buffs to return to earth and things to go back to normal in Boulder.

However, there are reasons to believe a competitive basketball team is the new normal at Colorado.

It's no secret the Achilles heal of this program the past few years has been an inability to compete on the boards. The Buffs used to be outrebounded routinely.

The problem even persisted into this season and has reared its ugly head at times, but the Buffs are much more competitive on the boards these days and have outrebounded both Missouri and Kansas State in the first two games of Big 12 play.

Colorado also has improved defensively over the past month and particularly since the Christmas break. The Buffs still rank near the bottom of the conference defensively, but they are playing together on the defensive end of the floor recently and it has played a big part in their recent success.

"If we defend and if we rebound, we have a chance," coach Tad Boyle said. "It doesn't mean that you will win them all, but you have a chance to win them all. And that is what you want to do as a coaching staff, put your guys in position to win every game."

Combine those improvements with the fact that CU is first in the Big 12 in free throw shooting, second in the conference in field goal percentage and third in 3-point field goal percentage, and you have a winning formula.

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