Buffs Face ‘Big' Challenge

Colorado is coming off an impressive road win at Air Force earlier this week. Sunday they'll face the Stanford Cardinal in the two teams' first game in the newly formed Pac-10/Big 12 Hardwood Series.

• Colorado's road wins this past week at Denver and Air Force mark the first time since the 1998-99 season the Buffs have won consecutive road games. They've also won three straight for the first time in two seasons.

• Colorado is 5-2, while Stanford is 7-1. Tipoff is set for 2 p.m. Sunday. The game will be televised on ESPNU.

• A key in the Buffs' two road wins was their defensive effort. CU held both the Pioneers and Falcons to 50 points or fewer. While the team's new offense under first-year coach Jeff Bzdelik was the focus of attention during the offseason, it's been an improved defense that's led to five wins, just two shy of what the Buffs managed all last year.

Colorado is allowing 55 points a game on the season. That's 25 points per game fewer than they allowed a season ago. Just as significant is the fact they've kept opponents to a field goal percentage of just 41 percent overall and 32.1 percent from 3-point range.

One thing that was particularly effective in Colorado Springs was how CU disguised its different defenses, changing back and forth between different zones and man defenses, thereby keeping Air Force off balance.

"We've been doing a better job of that," Bzdelik said Friday.

• In the Cardinal, the Buffs face a team with good size. Sophomore Robin Lopez is a 7-footer who averages 12 points and 6.6 boards a game. Stanford's starting front line goes 7-feet, 6-8 and 6-5.

"They have size, athleticism, the ability to drive and the ability to stretch the defense with great perimeter shooters," Bzdelik said.

The Cardinal averages 80 points a game heading into the contest.

CU has played primarily with a small lineup this season. It's two biggest scholarship players, freshman Caleb Patterson and senior Marcus King-Stockton, have seen spot duty. They may get an opportunity to see more action Sunday.

• Officials expect the renovation and construction of new CU basketball headquarters to be completed and the men's and women's hoops operations to move into their new digs on the second floor of Coors later this month. Work on the men's locker room has been slower, but Bzdelik still expects the team to be able to move into a new locker room at some point this season.

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