After saying his team still had just scratched the surface of its potential, Patton turned some heads.
"We are past trying to just get in the (NCAA) tournament," Patton said to reporters after the game. "We would like to get in the tournament and go deep in the tournament. If things fall into place, that's a possibility for this group."
If CU plays the way it's played during its current four-game win streak, Patton's lofty goal may not be out of line. If Richard Roby continues to play as well as he has during that stretch, Colorado should be in any game it suits up for.
Wednesday, 6,988 fans witnessed another chapter in the Roby Show. The sophomore guard was nearly unstoppable on offense. The steal and pull-up jumper, the drive through the lane and finish above the rim, the put-back slam, the fall-away trey – Roby had it going on against the Cornhuskers. He scored 30 points on 11-of-16 shooting, including 6 of 9 from beyond the arc.
You'd have to look back to Chauncey Billups to find a CU player who's put together a four-game stretch like Roby has. In wins over Missouri, Baylor, Oklahoma State and Nebraska, Roby is averaging 27.7 points a game. He's grabbed seven boards in each of the past three games, as well.
"He's doing the things we ask him to do," Patton said, quickly pointing out Roby's improved work on the glass.
It was Roby who finally got the Buffs on the scoreboard nearly five minutes into the game, when he stole the ball at mid-court and threw down a dunk a few steps later. The Buffs got off to a sluggish start, but were playing good enough defense early to keep themselves in the game. Roby's first 3-pointer of the night knotted the game at 5. Julius Ashby hit two foul shots at the 11:05 mark, and CU took a 7-5 lead, one it would never relinquish.
After holding a 27-19 lead at the half, Colorado put together a 13-0 run early in the second half, accented by another Roby trey. It was a ridiculous shot, falling away with a Nebraska defender in his face.
The shot put CU up 44-26, and when Roby jumped up off the floor and raised his arms to the roof, the second-biggest crowd at Coors this season leapt to its feet and roared. The often loud crowd — particularly a full student section — didn't go unnoticed.
"What a great crowd we had; what a great student section," Patton praised afterwards. "I thought our guys fed off the energy that was in the building."
But CU's effort was far from perfect. Rather than put the Cornhuskers away, CU struggled at the foul line (15 of 28 for just 53 percent) and Nebraska pulled to within 10 with just under 2 minutes to play.
"We've got to make free throws," Roby said. "You can't win a lot of games shooting (53 percent) from the free throw line."
Colorado made up for it by closing out the game on a 12-0 run, and that was that.
After reflecting on his statement about wanting to not only get an invitation to The Dance, but hang around past the first few songs, Patton said his Buffs still have a long ways to go.
"A lot of things have to fall into place for you to go deep in the tournament," Patton said. "We'll continue to take care of what's in front of us and get better. There's still time to get better. We don't think that we are where we want to be a month from now. We think there's time to improve in every area."
One place Colorado improved Wednesday was in the Big 12 standings. With the win, Colorado is now 14-3 overall, 4-2 in the Big 12 and in sole possession of second place in the conference.
Points: Richard Roby 30
Rebounds: Andy Osborn 8
Assists: Dominique Coleman
Turnovers: Coleman 4
Blocks: three with 3
Steals: Roby 3
Points: Wes Wilkinson 16
Rebounds: Jason Dourisseau 10
Assists: Dourisseau 3
Turnovers: Wildinson, Dourisseau 4
Blocks: Wilkinson 1
Steals: two with 1
Three CU students have started a group called C-Unit, intended to improve student spirit at basketball games. They handed out T-shirts Wednesday. …Antoine McGee started a point again, but his string of starts may be over. Patton pulled McGee less than two minutes into the game, when CU was playing poorly, and he never saw the floor again the rest of the game.
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