Scouting Colorado

News, notes and quotes on No. 1 KU's matchup at Colorado tonight at 8:00 in Boulder at the Coors Event Conference Center. The game will be televised on ESPN2 with Ron Franklin and Bill Raftery calling the action.

The Jayhawks are 20-1 and 6-0 in the Big 12. KU has now won 20 games in each of the last 21 seasons, which is the longest active streak in NCAA Division I.

SCOUTING COLORADO

Colorado (11-10, 2-5 Big 12) returns four starters off last season's 9-22 team. The Buffaloes have lost four of their last five games, but three of those losses were by six points or less (a combined 11 points).

CU is coming off a 64-63 loss at Iowa State on Saturday. The Buffaloes, who lost second-leading scorer Alec Burks two minutes into the game with a knee injury, had a blown opportunity to win in the final seconds when junior forward Marcus Relphorde missed a layup.

Still, CU head coach Jeff Bzdelik was thrilled with his team's effort.

"I couldn't be any prouder of my team," Bzdelik said. "It's unfortunate we weren't able to drop another bucket in there, and we had our opportunities. They're trying really hard; they really are."

Colorado, which is 10-1 at home this season, averages 75.8 points per game while allowing 71.9. CU is shooting 47.8 percent from the field, 38.1 percent from three-point range, and a Big 12-leading 76.7 percent from the free-throw line. The Buffaloes are holding foes to 45 percent field goal shooting and just 33.2 percent from beyond the arc. However, they're being outrebounded 35.2 to 28.5 boards per game.

Junior guard Cory Higgins leads the Colorado attack with 18.3 points per game (No. 5 in Big 12) and a team-high 39 steals. He's also dished out 51 assists and made 20 three-pointers, one of four CU players with 20 or more threes.

Burks, a 6-6 freshman guard, is second in scoring at 16.3 points per game, while leading the team with 4.7 rebounds per game. He's followed in scoring by Relphorde (10.4 ppg, 22 threes), senior guard Dwight Thorne II (8.9 ppg, team-high 27 threes), sophomore forward Austin Dufault (6.8 ppg, 3.4 rpg), sophomore guard Nate Tomlinson (5.7 ppg, 20 threes and team-high 4.3 assists per game), junior forward Casey Crawford (4.2 ppg) and junior guard Levi Knutson (2.8 ppg).

SELF & KU ON THE BUFFALOES

KU coach Bill Self sees an improved CU team from past years.

"Colorado has the best team that they've had in recent memory," Self said. "They've already shown that they can beat a team at home more easily than what we have with Baylor. (CU beat Baylor, 78-71, on Jan. 12, while KU overcame the pesky Bears, 81-75, on Jan. 20.) ... You can lose to anyone at any time. They're a good team and we need to play better."

Burks told cubuffs.com on Monday that he feels "fine now" after mildly spraining his left knee against Iowa State Saturday.

"I definitely think I'm going to play Wednesday, unless something happens between (now and then)," Burks said.

But Bzdelik is cautious.

"He's day-to-day ... a game-day decision," Bzdelik said Monday.

Self has been impressed with Burks, who fell under the recruiting radar after a standout career at Grandview (Mo.) High School. Prior to his injury on Saturday, Burks was the only freshman in the country to score in double figures every game.

"That's a great get by Colorado and a recruiting blunder by a lot of folks," Self said. "He's good. I watched him play in the state finals last year and I thought he was really good then. He's a player. He fits Jeff's system well. It would be a loss for their team if he's not able to play because he's hard to guard."

The undersized Buffaloes will keep KU on its toes with its Princeton style motion offense. Self said nonconference games against Cornell and especially Michigan helped the Jayhawks prepare for CU's offensive style.

"They don't really have a true center or even a true forward," KU junior center Cole Aldrich said. "They love to shoot the ball, they love to drive the ball and get to the paint. It is going to be tough for us. It is obviously tough to guard that offense, but I think our [scout] team really does a heck of a job preparing us."

MOVING ON UP

KU's battle vs. Colorado is the ‘Hawks first game in February, a critical month in the season with the Jayhawks two games up in the Big 12 race.

"We're just now starting," Self said. "Hopefully we've played guys the right amount of minutes in the season thus far where all the guys' legs will be fresh moving forward into February. I know you can't win a golf tournament in the third round so to speak, but this is the third round. This is where all good teams will make their move."

"PLAYING TO WIN"

Self marvels at senior guard Sherron Collins' basketball savvy and I.Q. While Collins' overall numbers and shot attempts are down this season, Self said "he's playing to win. I think he's showing NBA teams hopefully that he can run a team and not necessarily put up (big) numbers. ... The kid's legacy to me is, there's been a lot of good players here (KU) and he's going to win more games than any of them.

"That to me is pretty strong. I think that will go a long ways in helping (lay) a foundation for his life as long as he goes ahead and completes his 12 hours this semester and does what he's supposed to do academically."

JAYHAWKS IN BOULDER

KU fans have always come out on droves to support the Jayhawks in Boulder.

"We got booed and heard, ‘Rock Chalk, Jayhawk,' in your own building," Thorne said about the Kansas game during his freshman season.

"It's a feeling that when it happens, you're upset, you're pissed off. ... You still get upset about it, but it's unique about the game of college basketball."

Thorne hopes this game will be more fan friendly for the Buffs. CU has averaged 8,306 fans for the last three games.

"I think this game might be a little different; we might have a bigger crowd for us. ... I could be wrong," he said. "But if it is half and half, you're going to get booed coming from that tunnel. It'll be something you'll remember for the rest of your life — having that happen in your home gym."

Bzdelik, for one, said "it doesn't bother me" about KU's huge fan support in the Events Center. "Sometimes life isn't fair."

SERIES HISTORY

Kansas has dominated the series with CU, 117-39, in games dating back to 1931. KU has won 13 straight and 40 of the last 41 meetings. Colorado's last win came on Jan. 22, 2003 in Boulder, a 60-59 victory. KU is 37-26 in Boulder, including 22-7 in the Coors Events Conference Center. The Jayhawks have won the last six meetings there.

"We've had success when we've gone out there, but we really haven't played well," Self said.

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